Illegal Stills

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Illegal Stills
Studio album by
ReleasedMay 1976
Recorded1974, 1975, January - February 1976
StudioCriteria Studios, Miami, Caribou Ranch, Colorado, Cherokee Studios, Los Angeles
ProducerStephen Stills, Don Gehman
Stephen Stills chronology
Stephen Stills Live
Illegal Stills
Long May You Run
Singles from Illegal Stills
  1. ""Buyin' Time" / "Soldier""
    Released: 1976
Professional ratings
Review scores
Allmusic2/5 stars[1]

Illegal Stills is an album released by American musician Stephen Stills in May 1976. This was Stills second album on Columbia Records, after it was released he would start an album and tour with Neil Young. It has never been released on CD except on a twofer with Stills, and Thoroughfare Gap. The album charted at number 31 in the US on release, but wasn't a critical success.


The majority of this album was recorded in Criteria Studios over January and February 1976, with the majority of his road band from his 1975 tours. Stills experimented with adding Crosby & Nash like harmonies by using Howard Kaylan and Mark Volman (otherwise known as Flo & Eddie). In the other studio were the Bee Gees working on their Children Of The World album, to which Stills added percussion to the hit song 'You Should Be Dancing'. During this time Barry Gibb and Stills wrote an unreleased song together.[2]


Side 1[edit]

As stated on the lyric sheet, "Buyin Time" was written "midst the 1975's Presidential placations over our economic woes", and recorded at Criteria Studios with vocals done at Caribou Ranch. Piano overdub by Stills at Criteria.

"Midnight In Paris", recorded at Criteria with Vocals at Caribou Ranch. French vocal - no expense spared and with Great Mental Torment (not the name of a group- rather a state go mind) by Stephen. Written by Veronique Sanson Stills for Donnie's song.

"Different Tongues". Basis recorded at Criteria with vocals at Caribou. Written in London, October 1974, after the CSNY 1974 tour, by Donnie an Stephen in their hotel room. The key change was suggested later in Miami by George Terry, Eric's guitar player. Acoustic piano by Stephen and string synthesizer arrangement by Stephen with the great Joe Vitale - we were already mixing by then. Special thanks to Jim Friedman for pulling us all together.

"Soldier". Another hotel song, expressing feelings had and people known for a long time. Piano, lead guitar, and synthesizer by Stephen.

"The Loner". Always wanted to do it. Had a song riff like "Crossroads" but thought "why try to write another when there is already a great song around." Spent a lot of time with different lead guitar ideas.

Side 2[edit]

"Stateline Blues". A Tahoe tune. Always seem to end up with an acoustic tune on the album. Played it live on Dobro for a few months, but it sounded richer on Maybelle, the oldest D-45, with just a Dobro solo. Stephen overdubbed bass part later, as did Joe Vitale on brush drums.

"Closer To You". Donnie's outstanding twelve-string throughout the track sets up a simply great song.

"No Me Niegas" Lala had to play right on this one. We tried to get a classic latin feel and of course the holes in the percussion are as solid as the beats. Piano and synthesizer by Stephen.

"Ring Of Love". Donnie pulled this one out of his past. Flo and Eddie worked on him the better part of and evening "till he forgot he wasn't supposed to be having a good time singing. 'Smiracles will happen!

"Circlin'". Cut three different times, this one sounds the best. Recorded at Cherokee in LA, after we had just finished all basics and vocals for the album. Just one of those nights when everyone was there. Joe Vitale played drums. Lead guitar and piano overdub is Stephen.[3]

Artwork and Packaging[edit]

The album is noted for its creative artwork, placing Stills head on the label of a bottle. A lyric sheet was also included with a description of each track.[3]


The album charted at No. 30 on the Billboard 200, the week of July 4, 1976, during a 15-week run.[4] It also peaked at No. 31 in Canada, and No. 54 in the UK. 'Buyin' Time' was released as a single but didn't chart.


In a contemporary review Billboard said "Typical laid-back Stills with usual better than average songs and instrumental work from Donnie Dacus, George Perry, Joe Vitale, Tubby Ziegler and several others. Flo and Eddie join in on vocals. For Stills fans, this LP is exactly what they expect. The only criticism might be that the artist doesn't seem to get above a fixed energy level until near the end of side two, when he swings into a Latin-flavored cut and several easy rockers. Stills is strong on the more uptempo cuts and should do more." [5]

Critical reception was mixed, Rolling Stone didn't bother to review the album, however Steve Clarke for the NME in a review praised the production work and said 'There is such a thing as the Stephen Stills sound and like Phil Spcetor and Brian Wilson's sound its a big aural landscap'". Concluding his piece with "Illegal Stills is a well paced album with a flowing sense of continuity totally absent from Stills and bears the marks of simply first grade rock talent." Many critics said there wasn't enough guitar playing from Stills, and there was too much influence from Donnie Dacus. So much so that people thought it could have been credited to both Stills and Dacus[2]

In 1978, Stills commented that "Nothing I tried seemed to work out right. It was just a bad time for me. I couldn't pin anything down".[6]

Track listing[edit]

All tracks are written by Stephen Stills, except where noted.

Side one
1."Buyin' Time" 3:36
2."Midnight in Paris"Donnie Dacus, Véronique Sanson4:00
3."Different Tongues"Stills, Donnie Dacus3:09
4."Soldier"Donnie Dacus, Stills2:59
5."The Loner"Neil Young4:16
Side two
1."Stateline Blues" 1:59
2."Closer to You"Dacus, Warner Schwebke, Stills3:36
3."No Me Niegas" 3:33
4."Ring of Love"Dacus, Stills4:02
5."Circlin'"Kenny Passarelli, Stills4:20


As listed on album sleeve.[3]

Technical Personnel[edit]
  • Produced by Stephen Stills and Don Gehman.
  • Recorded by Ron and Howie Albert at Criteria studios and by Don Gehman at Caribou Ranch and Cherokee Studios in Los Angeles.
  • Mixed by Don Gehman and Alex Sadkin.
  • Mastered by Alex Sadkin.
  • Management: Michael John Bowen.
  • Cover Photograph: Don Hunstein
  • Photo of Stephen Stills: Tom Zimmhoff.



Year Chart Position
1976 Billboard Pop Albums 31


This tour was undertaken after Neil Young pulled out of the Stills-Young Band tour, and features many cancellations and reschedules, including a whole American tour. This was a smaller tour in which Stills, generally played acoustic for the first half, then only played as a three piece, with drums and bass for the electric/piano set. A european tour was cancelled at short notice due to Stills reuniting with Neil Young.

Date City Country Venue Attendance Gross Notes
Odd Gigs/Festivals Throughout the Year, Including make up dates for cancelled Stills/Young Band Tour
26 January 1976 Houston United States Astrodome Night of the Hurricane Benefit Concert
5 June 1976 Cardiff United Kingdom Ninean Stadium [7][8]
6 June 1976 Offenberg Germany Sunrise Festival Headlined[9]
23 July 1976 Jacksonville United States Civic Auditorium Three dates Stills carried on after Young bailed.
24 July 1976 Miami Miami Baseball Stadium 12,231/22,000
26 July 1976 Lakeland Lakeland Civic Center

(originally scheduled for

Tampa Stadium)

9,000 $71,000
14 August 1976 Milwaukee Summerfest
22 August 1976 San Diego San Diego Sports Arena 5,900
24 August 1976 Los Angeles LA Forum 14,500 $110,000[10]
Illegal Stills Tour
4 October 1976 Portland United States Unknown Venue
10 October 1976 Newport Odu Fieldhouse
12 October 1976 Lebanon Astor Theatre
17 October 1976 New Jersey Dillon Gymnasium
21 October 1976 Lebanon Astor Theatre
22 October 1976 Upper Darby Tower Theatre
24 October 1976 Pittsurgh Syria Mosque
25 October 1976 New York The Palladium
27 October 1976 Morgantown MVU Coliseum
31 October 1976 Michigan MSU Auditorium
4 November 1976 New York Palace Theatre
5 November 1976 Orlando University of Florida Gym
7 November 1976 New Orleans McAlister Auditorium
13 November 1976 Newport Odu Fieldhouse
14 November 1976 Chapel Hill Greensboro Triad Arena
17 November 1976 New York Rose Hill Gymnasium
18 November 1976 Washington DAR Constitution Hall
19 November 1976 New Jersey Dillon Gymnasium
20 November 1976 Boston Orpheum Theatre

Typical Tour Setlist[edit]

All songs written by Stephen Stills, except where noted.

  1. "Change Partners"
  2. "Helplessy Hoping"
  3. "Everybody's Talkin" (Freddie Neil)
  4. "Blackbird"
  5. "Treetop Flyer"
  6. "Stateline Blues"
  7. "Do For The Others"
  8. "Know You Got To Run"
  9. "4+20"
  10. "Crossroads/You Can't Catch Me" (Robert Johnson/Chuck Berry)
  11. "Circlin'"
  12. "I Give You Give Blind"
  13. "Four Days Gone"
  14. "Black Coral"
  15. "Turn Back The Pages"
  16. "Make Love To You"
  17. "49 Bye-Byes/For What It's Worth"
  18. "Midnight Rider" (Gregg Allman)
  19. "Find The Cost Of Freedom"

Tour Personnel[edit]

Stills was due to play Ninean Stadium, Cardiff, Wales to 40,000 fans on 5 June but pulled out at the last minute. Bob Marley replaced him.[7][8]


  1. ^ Chrispell, J. (2011). "Illegal Stills - Stephen Stills | AllMusic". Retrieved 26 July 2011.
  2. ^ a b Roberts, David (2017). Stephen Stills: Change Partners.
  3. ^ a b c Illegal Stills (Vinyl LP). Stephen Stills. Columbia Records. 1976. PC 34148.CS1 maint: others (link)
  4. ^ "Stephen Stills Illegal Stills Chart History". Billboard. Retrieved 14 August 2019.
  5. ^ "Billboard Albums Picks" (PDF).
  6. ^ Uncut (2018). Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young: Ultimate Music Guide. p. 37.
  7. ^ a b "Record World Magazine" (PDF).
  8. ^ a b "Record Mirror Magazine" (PDF).
  9. ^ "1976-06-06 The Sunrise Festival, Offenburg, Germany". Retrieved 13 August 2019.
  10. ^ "Billboard Article" (PDF).