James grew up in a happy home with a happy childhood. He always knew he was adopted - but the surprise of a lifetime came when he began looking into his adoptive past. Here's his remarkable story.
The Music Man
James Raymond always had a love for music. The love affair began when he was only five, and he started learning how to play the piano. From that point on, his passion for music only grew as he got older.
His adoptive parents always encouraged him to express his passion for music. They were involved with music themselves, having sung in choirs while he was growing up. It seemed that destiny had a musical plan for Raymond. Except, he didn't know just how integral music was to his roots. It would take some 30 years to figure it out.
Mom & Dad
James Raymond led a pretty normal life for three decades. He had always known that he was adopted but didn't really think much of it. His adoptive parents, Madeline and John Raymond, took care of him and always encouraged their son to pursue his dreams.
His adoption wasn't a big secret in his family. He had always known that his parents were not the ones who actually gave birth to him. But he had nothing but love for his special family. "You came to us in a special way," his parents used to tell him as a young boy. Little did he know how special his past truly was.
Raymond recalled to Acoustic Storm, "Whenever we went to someone's house that had a piano, my parents would lose me and always find me at the keyboard... and they finally realized, wow, it's pretty deep in this kid, so we better get him a piano." When he got an allowance, every cent was used to buy the latest records.
He grew up in San Bernadino, California, surrounded by groovers and funk players. He was intrigued by synthesizers and keyboards, finding himself listening to a lot of Stevie Wonder and Elton John. Raymond's love for the keys evolved into playing jazz later on. If it had something to do with music, the odds were James loved it.
Finding His Birth Parents
It never really bothered Raymond that he was adopted. He recalled, "as I was growing older, I never had had a burning desire to find my parents." That all changed when he was engaged and about to be married to Stacia. His dad suggested that now would be a good time to try and find his birth parents.
Raymond took his dad's advice and began filing paperwork with L.A. County to track down his birth mom and dad. Coincidentally, his birth mom had also started to search for James simultaneously. They were connected - and James discovered that Celia Crawford Ferguson was his mother.
Ferguson was living in Perth, Australia, at the time. So, Raymond gave a ring to the land down under and spoke to his birth mother for the first time in his life. It must have given them both butterflies when they spoke for the first time. Once James was born, Celia immediately had put him up for adoption.
It was the '60s when she had found out she was pregnant. It was the life of rock 'n' roll. Ferguson described it as, "We were on Sunset Boulevard and going around listening to different bands and people playing." James's father was an "absolutely physically beautiful young man." But who exactly was he?
Bigger Force at Play
James Raymond told Goldmine Magazine, "Music's been such a driving force in my life that as I got older, I just felt like there had to be a genetic component... I just felt like there was probably a bigger force at work." Raymond was going to find out soon enough that his intuition was correct.
The surprising thing would be to realize just how right his intuition was. When Raymond saw his birth certificate for the first time, his father's name sounded familiar. However, there was no way that the name written down could actually be the person who came to mind - so he didn't think anything of it. For now...
Facing the Facts
When Celia discovered she was pregnant, she had to tell the baby's father. But when she sat him down, she recalled to CBS News, "He was perhaps even more shocked than I was. Basically, his reaction was, 'I've got to go now.'" Raymond's dad wasn't ready, and she didn't want to be a teen mom, so she made a painful sacrifice.
All the information that James had was from his adoptive dad, John. They knew his age, height, and weight - plus that he had completed a year of college and was doing something in the music field. Now he also knew his legal name, but who really was his birth dad? He decided to confront his birth mother.
It All Makes Sense
Celia remembered, "I wasn't quite sure at that moment… what to say to him, but I said, 'Listen, your father is David Crosby.'" James recalled, "I said, you know, is this the David Crosby I'm thinking, it is? And she said, 'Oh yeah, it is.'" James Raymond was the son of one of the greatest American singer-songwriters. He couldn't believe it.
Ferguson told CBS News, "And when I told him that David was his father, he sounded pretty amazed. He said, 'I can't believe it. I can't believe that's really my father.'" Raymond had always had the sense that music was part of his DNA. Now he finally understood why. But that's not all he learned.
The Road to Hollywood
David Van Cortlandt Crosby was L.A. born and raised. His dad was an Oscar-winning cinematographer, and his mom worked at Macy's. He ditched a college education to become a musician, finding fame as a member of the band the Byrds. But it wasn't until he teamed up with two guys named Stills and Nash that everything changed.
Crosby, Stills & Nash ratified the California sound and sang at the renowned Woodstock. Crosby was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice -once for his work with the Byrds and another with CSN. Crosby was the voice and sound of the folk-rock and psychedelic genres. And James had lots of questions.
An Instant Connection
Now that James knew who his dad was, what was next? Listen to his music, of course! He told Acoustic Storm, "...all I knew about David Crosby was his public persona, pretty much, I didn't have any other records, although I knew their music, so I had a David Crosby listening party and got to know his music on a more intimate level."
Listening to his dad's music made James realize how similar they were. He said, "Harmonically, he's right in line with what I like as far as chords and his alternate tuning things, it felt very natural to me. I understood it right away like it was already in me." But was he going to try and contact the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer?
It turns out that James Raymond wasn't the only one with his long-lost relative in mind. David Crosby was in the hospital after suffering from a near-death experience in 1994. He was waiting for a liver transplant, and he couldn't help but think of the baby he had given up all those years ago.
Crosby told The Baltimore Sun, "I was in the hospital dying, and I knew that I had a son out there some place. I had been beating myself up for years about not being there for this kid." He also told CBS, "I have wanted forever to know... who this young man was and how he had turned out and if he was OK." His chance was coming.
James was initially hesitant about reaching out to his birth father. He was trying to make it in the music industry, and he didn't want his birth dad to think he was trying to connect out of the blue to benefit his career. Then, the Raymonds heard about Crosby's condition and knew it was time to make contact.
James's adoptive dad, John, was the one who wrote a letter to David. He explained that he had raised his son and passed along a phone number to reach out to him. Once Crosby had recovered from surgery, he raced to the phone. "Listen, man, I really want to meet you," he told his son.
The First Meeting
Before they knew it, the two had set up a time and place to meet. Crosby was anxious about meeting his long-lost son. He told CBS News, "I was worried, didn't know, you know, what kind of guy he was going to be." Would he be proud of his son? Would he recognize himself at all in him?
Crosby continued, "And here he walks through the door, and he's this, you know, brilliant young guy, you know, and he's cool." Although he had been hesitant at the start, James was also pleasantly surprised by his birth father. He recalled their first meeting, "He was very gracious."
How Did His Parents Take It?
Once James figured out who his biological father was, he was in for another shock of the century. When he told his adoptive parents that his dad was David Crosby, John responded, "We know Bing Crosby, but who's David?" They had no idea who the legendary musician was!
John told CBS News, "It's just a beautiful situation. We've gained a family. We didn't lose a son." They saw it as an opportunity to create a big blended family. James told Goldmine that his adoptive parents "...have always been very supportive. They now have a great relationship with the Crosby family."
Making Up for Lost Time
Now that father and son had been reunited, what would be next? They could have easily parted ways and carried on with their demanding careers. Yet, life had given them another opportunity to be in each other's lives. So, James and David took it upon themselves to build a relationship for the first time.
They made up for lost time, with Crosby even giving his son an assignment. According to The Baltimore Sun, he handed over the lyrics to a song he was working on, and Raymond came up with a tune for it. They started jamming - and that was when Crosby suggested forming a group together.
Let's Start a Band
That homework assignment became the first song that they performed live together. Together with guitarist Jeff Pevar, the father-son duo formed the band CPR, using their initials to create the title. In a miraculous twist of fate, the reunited musicians ended up performing together.
James described how they started to Goldmine Magazine, saying, "He liked my music. He liked my musicianship. We started writing together, and it just kind of evolved from there." Not only did it involve into a band, but it also grew into something much more than that...
In the Studio
They became partners. The two wrote one of CPR's songs, Yesterday's Child, together. James described the musical process to Acoustic Storm, telling them, "We kind of played ping-pong with that one... that was sort of an email song." Their work as CPR resulted in two studio albums, two live albums, and several tours. It was remarkable.
Even when CPR decided to split up in 2004, Crosby and Raymond didn't stop working together. Raymond became a regular fixture next to his proud father. He would play in the band as Crosby toured with Graham Nash and Stephen Stills - or when he toured his solo albums.
James Raymond went from wondering who his birth dad was to playing in a band with him - and it was just as wild as it sounds. As for what was it like to work with one of the greats? Raymond confided in Acoustic Storm, "He's made it very clear to me that he respects me as a musician and a writer and we trust each other."
He continued, "He's been around a lot longer, so in many cases, I will defer to him… The cool thing is that he's very open and gracious in that way. The ego-thing doesn't come into play in this band…" Raymond picked up a few skills from playing with his father. But what about their relationship outside of the band?
"Like a Father Figure"
Even though David Crosby did not help to raise James Raymond, they still shared a special familial bond. Raymond told Goldmine Magazine, "He likes to look out for me. There's certain facets of our relationship where he does get to be like a father figure."
He continued, "And then there's times when it switches, and I'm kinda like the father. But it's more like brothers in arms. We're very close collaborators and really good friends. That's more the dynamic." Since meeting for the first time, they have developed a unique kinship.
In 2021, they made music magic again together. James produced and wrote for Crosby's 2021 album For Free. It was the eighth studio album that Crosby had put out. It garnered great critical press. The father-son duo had put out another great work of art.
It was like they were unstoppable. Ever since they first began to jam together, Crosby and Raymond kept turning out tune after tune. They sparked each other's creativity and bonded over their shared passion for music. Not only did they musically align, but they made for pretty good friends, too.
David Crosby told Classic Rock magazine, "I've never enjoyed a more fulfilling working relationship with anyone other than my son, James." Those are words of the highest praise, especially because they come from a guy who has worked with some of the best in the business.
While CPR had long been disbanded, Crosby and Raymond could still keep their working relationship alive and well. It was also remarkable for James. He told CBS News, "I'll be on stage and I'll look over and I'll say, 'I'm up here singing with David Crosby, and this is pretty cool.'"
Continuing the Legacy
There comes a time in every parent's life when their kid surpasses them. It's a proud moment in a parent's life, and David Crosby could not have been more proud of his own blood, James. He told Classic Rock, "I thought he was terrific when I met him, but on this record I think he's as good a writer as I am, if not better."
That's not the only time Crosby boasted about how great and talented his son is. He also gushed to CBS News, "He's better than me. I watch his face when he's playing the solo. You've got to see him man to believe it. You have to see him." What an incredible feeling to watch his own son continue his legacy.
His Final Album
Unfortunately, their partnership would come to an early close. For Free would end up being the last album the musical father-son duo would work on together. While they did not know it then, Crosby's days were numbered after the album's release in 2021.
He always had complications with his health. When he and James first reunited, he was recovering from a necessary liver transplant due to his diagnosis of hepatitis C. Crosby also suffered from type 2 diabetes, and he had heart surgery in 2014. Sadly, the singer-songwriter passed away on January 18, 2023.
The world mourned one of the most influential musicians of the past century when news got out of Crosby's passing. His wife, Jan Dance, confirmed his passing with a statement to Variety. She wrote, "It is with great sadness after a long illness, that our beloved David (Croz) Crosby has passed away."
She continued, "Although he is no longer here with us, his humanity and kind soul will continue to guide and inspire us. His legacy will continue to live on through his legendary music." He left the world with an enormous hole in its heart, especially in his son's heart.
James Raymond posted a photo of Croz on his Instagram with an emoji of a broken heart. Raymond wrote his own tribute to his pops, "I am deeply saddened at the passing of my birth father David Crosby. He was a monumental talent and a force of nature. The musical gifts he gave us all will be cherished for generations."
He continued, "I feel very fortunate that we found each other and that he so graciously invited me to experience that rarified air of creativity that surrounded him. I'll miss him immensely." Only a day before his passing, James announced on social media that they would be performing again. Little did he know...
One Last Flight
The famous Byrd singer may no longer be with us, but his lyrics and tunes will inspire generations to come. His former bandmate Graham Nash wrote, "David was fearless in life and in music. He leaves behind a tremendous void as far as sheer personality and talent in this world."
Another former bandmate Neil Young wrote, "The soul of CSNY, David's voice and energy were at the heart of our band." The world shed a tear and played a Croz record that gloomy day. David Crosby will continue to live on, not only in his music but also in his son.
It seems that the music gene ran through their blood for multiple generations. James Raymond's daughter, Gracie, also holds musical chops. She released her debut EP NightHawk in June 2022. What did her grandfather think of her entering the music industry?
In an interview with American Songwriter, Crosby shared, "It's an odd mix. There was definite parental fear of 'Oh my god, this is a turbulent and terrible place, this world! My darling granddaughter, I'm so worried!' And the other half of it was absolute excitement and joy."
When James met his birth father, he was welcomed into David's world with open arms. In addition to his dad, James was also accepted into the larger Crosby clan. David and his wife, Jan, had their son Django in 1995. It was the only child that the couple welcomed together.
Crosby also had two daughters, Donovan and Erika. Then, there was also Beckett and Bailey Jean Cypher. Crosby was the sperm donor for Melissa Etheridge and Julie Cypher's children, giving them two wonderful children. While it may not be conventional, the Crosbys made it work.
In the weeks following his passing, the family continued to remember and grieve Crosby. James has posted photos of his father, including one of them together, and used the hashtag #celebratingcroz. Gracie and Stacia, James's wife, also posted their tributes to the late musician.
David Crosby once said, "On the keyboards, James Raymond, my son. I love him a lot; I'm very proud of him." While Raymond may never have another chance to hear his birth father utter those words again, at least he had the incredible privilege of getting to know him over the last 30 years.
Out of the Movies
From long-lost son to studio sessions with dad, James' story feels like the plot from a Hollywood movie; a musically talented kid trying to make it in the biz discovers that his father is one of the greatest musicians to ever live. Except, this tale is all too true. The reunion of James Raymond and David Crosby is as shocking as it is inspiring.
With a simple turn of events, they changed both of their lives forever. Hopefully, this story will continue to touch lives and commemorate the honorable legacy of the CSNY legend. Now there is only one thing left to do, sit back, relax and listen to some Croz records...