Andre Gardner

Stephen Stills arrives at the 5th Annual Light Up the Blues Concert an Evening of Music to Benefit Autism Speaks at Dolby Theatre on April 21, 2018 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images)

Happy Birthday to Stephen Stills, guitarist, songwriter, vocalist and arranger extraordinaire, born January 3, 1945 in Dallas, Texas.

He first found fame with longtime colleague Neil Young in Buffalo Springfield, before reaching international rock star status with Crosby, Stills, Nash and, later, Young. His work with those bands is legendary, writing rock standards like “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes,” “Carry On” and “Dark Star,” just to name a few, but much of his work outside of those groups, and to some extent his solo career, has been criminally overlooked.

In addition, his songs have recorded by dozens of artists, and he has appeared as a guest musician on so many wonderful recordings including, ironically, one by The Monkees!

Here are 10 times Stephen Stills cemented his status in the pantheon of rock and roll. Some of these you know by heart, some you may hear for the first time:

  • 10. Love The One You're With - Stephen Stills

    Well of COURSE I have to start with this one, the one everyone knows. What’s great about this track is that Stephen plays all guitars and that killer organ solo.

  • 9. Song Of Love - Manassas

    Stills formed this “supergroup” in 1971 with Chris Hillman of the Byrds, Fuzzy Samuels and Dallas Taylor from the CSNY Band, Joe Lala, Al Perkins and Paul Harris.  Their debut album, a double LP, was a fantastic mixture of rock, blues, folk and country. It even went gold soon after its release, yet it’s largely forgotten today.

  • 8. Turn My Life Down - Jefferson Airplane

    Stills’ organ playing on this track from the Airplane’s Volunteers album is pure bliss!

  • 7. Lady's Baby - The Monkees

    Yes, Stephen Stills played on a recording by The Monkees, even though he lost out auditioning for the band! The track, written by pal Peter Tork, wasn’t initially released, but later appeared on the outtakes album Missing Links, and features some nice bluesy guitar by Stills.

  • 6. She's A Lady - John Sebastian

    Although Crosby, Stills and Nash appear on the debut solo album by the Lovin’ spoonful co-founder, months before they formed their band, they don’t appear together on any track on this album.  Crosby does sing background vocals on this beautiful track, and Stills added the gorgeous acoustic guitar work.

  • 5. Carey - Joni Mitchell

    That tasty guitar and bass work on this fun track from Joni’s masterwork, Blue, is the perfect touch.

  • 4. You Should Be Dancing - The Bee Gees

    It was one of the pioneering songs of the disco movement, by one of its biggest artists and, yes, that is Stephen Stills playing killer percussion on the track, along with his Manassas bandmate Joe Lala.

  • 3. (You've Got A) Nice Way - Ringo Starr

    Not only did Stills co-write and play guitar on this track off of Stop And Smell The Roses, but he produced the song as well!

  • 2. Season Of the Witch - Al Kooper (Super Session)

    Al Kooper put out a critically acclaimed solo album in 1968, with an interesting twist. He partnered with guitarist Mike Bloomfield of Electric Flag on side one of the album, with Stephen Stills handling guitar duties on side 2. His cover of Donovan’s “Season Of The Witch,” with Stills, is a bluesy marvel.

  • 1. Ain't No Sunshine - Bill Withers

    One of the key ingredients of this all-time classic was the mournful, soulful acoustic guitar work.  It was years before I heard that it was Stephen Stills playing the part, and it made me respect him even more than I already did, which was a lot! Hands down, it’s my favorite Stills guest appearance on record.

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