Stephen Stills Plots Historic Album and Tour with Judy Collins

Photo credit: Anna Webber
The phrase “hardest-working man in show business” gets thrown around a lot, but one look at Stephen Stills’ calendar proves that he has undisputedly earned the title. With not one, but two tours planned for 2017, during which time he’ll record an album with fellow music legend Judy Collins as well as continue work on his much-anticipated autobiography, it’s clear that the only thing Stills has no use for is complacency.

First up on Stills’ agenda is his current tour with The Rides, the explosive multi-generational blues-rock supergroup he formed in 2013 with guitar phenom Kenny Wayne Shepherd and Chicago session/touring keyboard great (and founding member of The Electric Flag) Barry Goldberg. Stills, a two-time Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee (for Buffalo Springfield and Crosby, Stills & Nash), knows a killer musical lineup when he sees it – let’s not forget his beloved early ‘70s country/blues-rock ensemble Manassas – and he calls The Rides “the blues band of my dreams” (this from the man who cut the iconic Super Session album with Al Kooper and Mike Bloomfield, a disc that also featured Goldberg).

The Rides are touring behind their sophomore release, Pierced Arrow, which, like the band’s Grammy-nominated debut, Can’t Get Enough, hit No. 1 on the Billboard Blues chart. Reflecting on the dynamic chemistry of The Rides, Stills told the Huffington Post, “I’ve learned a heck of a lot from Kenny Wayne Shepherd, and being with Barry is like putting on an old shoe because he and I write together like guys before Crosby, Stills & Nash, before I ever met the three. We just slip into a song and it’s just graceful.”

Between live dates with The Rides, Stills will celebrate the 50th anniversary of his relationship with music legend Judy Collins with an extensive joint tour – it’ll mark the first time they’ve ever shared a stage together. (Although in-between his time with Buffalo Springfield and Crosby, Stills & Nash, Stills did serve as Collins’ part-time accompanist.)

Their new tour is beginning in late July and will be wrapping in early September, but it will be preceded by another first: In April, Stills and Collins will record an album with an eye toward a Summer 2017 release. The two have worked in the studio together on only a couple of occasions (notably, Stills’ appearance on Collins’ 1968 album Who Knows Where the Time Has Gone), but this will mark the first time they’ve combined their unique talents for a collaborative album.

The story of Stills and Collins is already in the history books: The two met in 1967 and dated for two years. During this time, Stills poured his feelings into a transfixing song that he titled “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes,” which one was of the standout moments among other standouts on CSN’s landmark 1969 debut album. On their summer tour, Stills and Collins will perform songs from their upcoming album along with treasured selections from their impeccable catalogs, as well sharing warm and intimate stories from their amazing journeys that took flight five decades ago in Laurel Canyon.

No doubt Collins will figure prominently in Stills’ upcoming autobiography, a memoir he began years ago and is determined to finish without the aid of a ghostwriter. Explaining his goal to see the book through to completion on his own, Stills told Rolling Stone, “Dammit, I’m writing it myself. Why would I use a ghostwriter? Do you want a 300-pagePeople interview?” And the inveterate perfectionist is even using a typewriter to tell his tale: “You can’t write on a computer on a bus,” he said. “The keyboard jiggles around too much and there are too many typos. You spend all your time backing up. A Selectric is heavy and it sits on the table in the bus and you can hit it hard.”

Stills recently lent his singular guitar talents to the title track of rising star Amanda Abizaid’s newly released EP Walking in Twos. Abizaid has released several well-received EPs and albums, and she’s written songs for the films 3 Below, 13th Alley and Dark Ascension. Walking in Twos was inspired by Abizaid’s experiences working with Aeta Filipino children.

Each year since 2013, Stills and his wife Kristen have co-hosted star-studded Autism Speaks benefit concerts called Light Up the Blues. They subject of autism is a deeply personal one for the Stills family, as their son Henry has Asperger Syndrome. Due to the recent passing of Autism Speaks co-founder Suzanne Wright, Stephen and Kristen have announced that the 2017 event will be postponed.

In a joint statement, they said, “We are so grateful for the overwhelming demand for tickets and support for Light Up The Blues this year. While it has left a hole in our heart, we have made the decision to not host our beloved benefit for 2017 and wanted to let all our family, friends, and fans know.  After four extremely successful Light Up The Blues concerts, we will take 2017 to focus and expand our fundraising campaign efforts and resources to better serve the international autism community. We will return in 2018 energized to again Light It Up Blue.”

Learn more about Light Up The Blues:

Learn more about Autism Speaks:

Tour dates for the Rides:

Stephen Stills – Judy Collins Tour Dates:

July 26 – Highland Park, IL – Ravinia Festival
July 28 – Cleveland Heights, OH – Cain Park
July 30 – Overland, KS – JCCC Carlsen Center
Aug 01 – Denver, CO – Denver Botanic Gardens
Aug 03 – Steamboat Springs, CO – Strings Music Pavilion
Aug 05 – Salina, KS – Stiefel Theatre
Aug 07 – Meridian, MS – MSU – Riley Center
Aug 09 – Atlanta, GA – Atlanta Symphony Hall
Aug 11 – Alexandria, VA – Birchmere
Aug 12 – Alexandria, VA – Birchmere
Aug 14 – Ridgefield, CT – Ridgefield Playhouse
Aug 16 – Red Bank, NJ – Count Basie Theatre
Aug 17 – New Haven, CT – College Street Music Hall
Aug 18 – Greensburg, PA – The Palace Theatre
Aug 20 – Lowell, MA – Boarding House Park
Aug 21 – Great Barrington, MA – Mahaiwe PAC
Aug 23 – Morristown, NJ – Mayo PAC
Aug 25 – Glenside, PA – Keswick Theatre
Aug 26 – Westbury, NY – NYCB Theatre
Aug 28 – Binghamton, NY – Anderson Center for the Perf. Arts
Sept 1 – Beverly Hills, CA – Saban Theatre
Sept 6 – San Diego, CA – Humphreys Concerts By the Sea