LOS ANGELES -- David Crosby, the singer-songwriter known for his work with The Byrds and Crosby, Stills & Nash, has died at the age of 81, according to Variety.
While he only wrote a handful of widely known songs, the witty and ever opinionated Crosby was on the front lines of the cultural revolution of the 60s and 70s - whether triumphing with Stephen Stills, Graham Nash and Neil Young on stage at Woodstock, testifying on behalf of a hirsute generation in his anthem "Almost Cut My Hair" or mourning the assassination of Robert Kennedy in "Long Time Gone."
Crosby's wife Jan Dance announced his death Thursday in a statement to Variety.
"It is with great sadness after a long illness, that our beloved David (Croz) Crosby has passed away. He was lovingly surrounded by his wife and soulmate Jan and son Django. Although he is no longer here with us, his humanity and kind soul will continue to guide and inspire us," the statement said.
"His legacy will continue to live on through his legendary music. Peace, love, and harmony to all who knew David and those he touched. We will miss him dearly. At this time, we respectfully and kindly ask for privacy as we grieve and try to deal with our profound loss. Thank you for the love and prayers."
WATCH: Vigils honor life of David Crosby by playing his legendary music
Crosby was a mainstay of the 60s and 70s music scene, and was a founding member of two influential rock bands: the Byrds and Crosby, Stills & Nash, which later became Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young.
He was a founder and focus of the Los Angeles rock music community from which such performers as the Eagles and Jackson Browne later emerged. He was a twinkly-eyed hippie patriarch, the inspiration for Dennis Hopper's long-haired stoner in "Easy Rider." He advocated for peace, but was an unrepentant loudmouth who practiced personal warfare and acknowledged that many of the musicians he worked with no longer spoke to him.
"Crosby was a colorful and unpredictable character, wore a Mandrake the Magician cape, didn't get along with too many people and had a beautiful voice - an architect of harmony," Bob Dylan wrote in his 2004 memoir, "Chronicles: Volume One."
Crosby's drug use left him bloated, broke and alienated. He kicked the addiction in 1985 and 1986 during a year's prison stretch in Texas on drug and weapons charges. The conviction eventually was overturned.
"I've always said that I picked up the guitar as a shortcut to sex and after my first joint I was sure that if everyone smoked dope there'd be an end to war," Crosby said in his 1988 autobiography, "Long Time Gone," co-written with Carl Gottlieb. "I was right about the sex. I was wrong when it came to drugs."
He lived years longer than even he expected and in his 70s enjoyed a creative renaissance, issuing several solo albums while collaborating with others including his son James Raymond, who became a favorite songwriting partner.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.