David Crosby lost girlfriend Christine Hinton in a fatal car accident in 1969

Bruno Cooke January 20, 2023
David Crosby lost girlfriend Christine Hinton in a fatal car accident in 1969
Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

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Byrds and Crosby, Stills & Nash co-founder David Crosby has died at the age of 81, more than five decades after the death, in a car accident, of his once longtime girlfriend Christine Hinton.

Variety reports that Crosby’s death came as a “surprise” to those who followed him. He was active on Twitter right up until this week. 

Among his final tweets, the day before he died, was what the outlet calls a “typically jocular comment about heaven.”

“I heard the place is overrated…” he wrote. “Cloudy.”

Photo by Paul Marotta/Getty Images

1969 was the year David Crosby lost his longtime girlfriend Christine Hinton in a car accident

According to a report in the San Francisco Examiner from October 1, 1969, as quoted on Christine Hinton’s Find A Grave webpage, she was driving a “small car” in Novato, California when she died.

Her car crashed into a school bus. Hinton’s passenger, Barbara Linger, age 23, was her roommate. She went to the intensive care unit of Marin General Hospital, with head injuries and cuts.

And a seven-year-old boy, one of seven on the bus at the time, got a “bump on his head.” He didn’t, however, require treatment. The school bus’s driver, Valerie Hansen, did not sustain injuries.

At the time of the car accident, Christine Hinton was the longtime girlfriend of David Crosby, then of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young.

Graham Nash told biographer Crosby had ‘never been the same since’

David Crosby identified the body of Christine Hinton shortly afterwards, bandmate Nash told the group’s biographer David Zimmer, according to the Washington Post.

The Post interviewed Crosby in 1987. In its preamble, it quotes Nash as saying that Crosby had “never been the same since” the car accident that killed Christine.

It also notes that, in the years that followed, Crosby developed substance abuse issues. Soon, his life story was playing out “all too publicly” in accident reports, “police blotters” and magazine headlines.

“There were times when I absolutely thought that he would die,” it quotes Graham Nash as saying. But by 1987, it adds, he looked “redeemed,” and had a “softness and a sparkle in his eyes.”

What was Christine Hinton doing when the car accident occurred?

Taking the cats she and David Crosby had to the vet, apparently.

According to reports, Crosby and Hinton had dated earlier in the 1960s, before his relationship with Joni Mitchell in 1967. Far Out Magazine writes that Crosby and Mitchell’s partnership was “built on sand,” but adds that they “worked proficiently as one another’s muse for a short period.”

When their careers started to gain traction, the amount of time they could spend together dwindled. And as a result, the magazine writes, Crosby reached out to an “old flame” – enter Christine Hinton.

Mitchell’s revenge reportedly took the form of a song, which she performed at a party at the house of Monkees member Peter Tork. Crosby later told Howard Stern on SiriusXM that people had found her “not-so-subtle” breakup song “hysterically funny.”

Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

How old was Hinton, and what happened to her body?

Born June 4, 1948, Christine Gail Hinton’s age was just 21 when the fatal car accident happened on September 30, 1969.

She was cremated. Crosby took her ashes out into the ocean abroad his ship, the Mayan. It was aboard the Mayan that he co-wrote Wooden Ships, a signature Crosby, Stills and Nash track. 

According to Song Facts, he later told Mojo Magazine that he had written the song I’d Swear There Was Somebody Here about Christine.

He said: “I guess you can feel exposed but what else are you going to write about? If you are going to write and record material which moves people it needs to be pulled from real life. You don’t really have a choice.”

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Bruno Cooke has been a freelance journalist since 2019, primarily with GRV Media. He was an early contributor to The Focus, and has written for HITC, Groundviews and the Sheffield University newspaper – he earned his MA in Global Journalism there in 2021. He’s the Spoken Word Poetry Editor for The Friday Poem, and self-published his debut novel Reveries in 2019, which his mum called both a “fine read” and “excellent Christmas present”. Bruno has lived in China, Sri Lanka and the Philippines and likes, among other things: bicycle touring, black and white Japanese films, pub quizzes, fermentation and baklava. In 2023, Bruno will set off with his partner on a round-the-world cycle.