Following the Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young stadium tour of 1974, an attempt by the quartet to finalize a new album ended amidst acrimony without result. David Crosby and Graham Nash resumed their partnership as Crosby & Nash, while Stills and Young continued their independent careers. Songs from the aborted CSNY album appeared on various albums by group members, and Stills covered two Young songs on his contemporary studio albums: "New Mama" on Stills and "The Loner" on Illegal Stills.
In early 1976, Stills and Young reached a rapprochement, and began to work on a joint album project from a desire by both to pick up where they left off with their Buffalo Springfield-era guitar explorations, a decade after the inception of the band. Crosby and Nash signed on as well, and briefly Long May You Run looked to be the awaited CSNY reunion album. However, on a deadline Nash and Crosby left Miami to finish the sessions for what would become their 1976 album Whistling Down the Wire, and Young and Stills reacted by removing the duo's vocals and other contributions from the master tapes. Crosby and Nash vowed never to work with either again, although less than a year later they would regroup with Stills for a new CSN album in 1977.
The Stills-Young Band, comprising Stills' current touring band behind the pair, began a tour in 1976 prior to the album's release. The tour commenced in Clarkston, Michigan on June 23, but after nine dates Young dropped out after July 18 via a telegram to Stills, forcing Stills to complete the concert tour solo through October. The telegram read: "Dear Stephen, funny how some things that start spontaneously end that way. Eat a peach. Neil." Young would later cite cryptic personal reasons for his departure, namely that the tour "wasn't working" and that the "balance was off in some way" as it progressed.