Singers and songwriters Judy Collins and Stephen Stills forged a long-term friendship, a two-year romance and separate career paths since they first met in 1968.
This summer the folk-rock ’60s icons are celebrating the 50th anniversary of their special relationship by getting together — for the first time — for a collaborative album and a 45-city U.S. tour.
Speaking on the road between tour stops in Meridian, Miss., and Atlanta, Ga., Collins says performing together was something she and Stills often discussed as they pursued their own careers.
“It’s something we’ve talked about doing for about 10 years,” Collins says, adding that it was her manager that finally took the initiative to “put the teams together.” Their tour that began the end of July and doesn’t wind down until November stops in Greensburg for one performance Aug. 18 at the Palace Theatre.
Their stage show will treat their fans to songs from their new album together, “Everybody Knows” (Wildflower/Cleopatra Records, which debuts Sept. 22 on vinyl and CD), along with their own past hits and recollections from their personal and professional lives.
The album includes a new song, “River of Gold,” written by Collins, in addition to Leonard Cohen’s title track, Bob Dylan’s “Girl from the North Country” and Sandy Denny’s “Who Knows Where the Time Goes.”
Besides his own solo work, Stills, now 72, was a member of Manassas, Buffalo Springfield, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young and Crosby, Stills and Nash and is best known for the hits “For What It’s Worth,” “Love the One You’re With” and “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes,” a song he wrote two years after his short-lived romance with Collins.
He was the first person to be inducted twice on the same night into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for his work with Crosby, Stills and Nash and Buffalo Springfield.
Collins is best known for her folk renditions of Joni Mitchell’s “Both Sides Now” and “Send in the Clowns,” a ballad written for the Broadway musical “A Little Night Music” by Stephen Sondheim.
She actually started playing music at age 13 as a classical pianist prodigy, but she was inspired by artists Pete Seeger and Woody Guthrie and soon turned her attention to the guitar and folk music. Over the years, she has won many awards for her recordings and television programs, including one of her favorite performances, filmed in 2014 at Dromoland Castle in Ireland.
She also has written several books, including her memoir, “Sweet Judy Blue Eyes: My Life in Music” and her most recent work, “Cravings: How I Conquered Food” released earlier this year, which details her struggle with and recovery from compulsive overeating.
At age 78, Collins lives in New York City, a self-proclaimed “country girl who’s stuck in the city,” and has no plans to give up performing or writing her songs, books or poetry — which is what she loves mostly to do.
“When I’m working on a new project, it’s likely I have something else on the horizon,” she says. “As an artist, you have to keep working at what you do. The audience comes along for the ride.”
Candy Williams is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.