"There are three albums I find it hard to separate. One is Rubber Soul by The Beatles. Everything about it was so innovative and inspiring. Another is Madman Across The Water by Elton John. The lyrics had a profound effect on me, and the string arrangements were so percussive. The song Holiday Inn from that album was the first one I played with [former REO guitarist] Gary Richrath when we met.
“The third is the debut album from Crosby, Stills & Nash. I was a huge fan of Buffalo Springfield, The Byrds and The Hollies, so when I heard that David Crosby, Stephen Stills and Graham Nash were combining forces, as it were, I was just in heaven.
“I remember going round to my girlfriend’s house to listen to it, and I just couldn’t get passed the opening track, Suite: Judy Blues Eyes. I must have played it 12 times in a row, before moving on to the rest of the tracks. It was amazing.
“I was so into folk at the time, and this was such a stunning, important record for me. I’d been hearing a special sound in my head for so long, one I couldn’t describe, and here it was on record. I guess this partially inspired me to want to get into a band and make my own music.
“I also got to see CSN live just before they did their amazing performance at Woodstock. I think it was their first ever gig, and was awesome. Even recalling it now sends shivers down the spine.
“About 20 years ago, I got to meet Stephen Stills. Little Feat were playing at a small club in Los Angeles, and Stephen was arguing with a bouncer who wouldn’t let him in, because there was nowhere for him to sit. I knew the security guy, so I told him that Stephen was cool and he could sit with me. Afterwards we ended up going to his home studio and hung out together.
“Over a period of time we wrote a bunch of songs together, which was such an honour for me. One, Haven’t We Lost Enough?, ended up on the 1991 CSN box set. REO Speedwagon also did a version for the 1996 record Building The Bridge, although we called it I Still Love You.
“Back in 1969 I couldn’t have imagined becoming a friend of Stephen’s, let alone writing with him. And the importance of that album to me can never be overstated. The three of them changed the face of music, and it started here.
“If I had this record, plus Rubber Soul and Madman Across The Water, I reckon I could happily survive on any desert island."
Kevin Cronin was speaking with Malcolm Dome.