Stephen Stills: St. Pete Musician

Stephen Stills Learned to Play the Guitar at Admiral Farragut Academy and Made a Lasting Influence on American Music and Culture.

Stephen Stills is considered one of the greatest rock and roll artists of all time. His name is recognized throughout the world. He’s in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (twice) and has sold over 35 million albums.

He performed at Woodstock in 1969 with folk rock supergroup Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young “noted for their intricate vocal harmonies … and lasting influence on American music and culture.” 1 For a time, Crosby, Stills and Nash was the most popular rock group in the world. They were called the “American Beatles.”

Many famous guests have set anchor at 501 Park Street North in the Azalea neighborhood ‒ once the Jungle Country Club Hotel and now Admiral Farragut Academy. Stephen Stills attended Admiral Farragut Academy during a formative period of his life and he says that he loved it. “It taught me honor, developed my character, and helped me become a trouper.” 2

One of the greatest guitarists of all time learned to play the instrument while attending Admiral Farragut Academy in the Jungle. In 1957, 12-year-old Stephen “latched on to his roommate’s guitar and plunked around until his fingers bled.”2 In the song “Old Times Good Times,” he confirms “when I was twelve, I learned how to play the guitar.” By 2003, Stills was number 28 in Rolling Stone’s list of “The 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time.”

Age 12, Admiral Farragut Academy

He also learned to love sailing during his time here. AFA Cadets learn to sail on Boca Ciega Bay. Stills and David Crosby wrote the song “Wooden Ships” near Ft. Lauderdale on Crosby’s boat, the Mayan.

1977 album cover: David Crosby, Stephen Stills and Graham Nash sailing on the Mayan.

Highlights and Trivia:

  • Combined record sales of over 35 million albums from Buffalo Springfield, Crosby, Stills and Nash, Manassas, The Stills-Young Band, and as a solo performer.
  • Number 28 in Rolling Stone’s 2003 list of “The 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time.”
  • Was inducted twice in the same night into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, as a member of both Buffalo Springfield and Crosby, Stills and Nash.
  • Stills’ first solo record is the only album to feature collaborations with both Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton. Other contributors were Ringo Starr, Mama Cass, Booker T. Jones, John Sebastian, David Crosby and Graham Nash.
  • Auditioned for the Monkees ‒ his roommate Peter Tork got the job. 
Stephen Stills and Peter Tork. Click to enlarge.

A few of my favorite Stephen Stills songs:

Stills-Young Band ‒ Long May You Run
Stephen Stills ‒  Love the One You’re With
Buffalo Springfield  ‒ Sit Down I Think I Love You
Crosby, Stills and Nash ‒ Southern Cross
Stephen Stills and Manassas ‒ Colorado

Wikipedia, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young

2 Crosby Stills And Nash: The Biography by Dave Zimmer

The Roaring Twenties, the Florida Land and Tourism Booms, the Jazz Age, Prohibition, Organized Crime, Speakeasies, Two World Wars, the Advent of Radio and Moving Pictures, the Rising Popularity of Baseball and Golf, the Dawn of Aviation, and the Emergence of Celebrity Culture ‒ These Influences Converge in the Jungle.

For more Jungle adventures, visit my blog The Jungle Country Club History Project – The Awesome and Unheralded History of St. Petersburg’s West Coast.

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Trixie Girl
5 months ago

Thank you! Great article! I never knew about Stephen Stills at Admiral Farragut! This place continues to amaze me!

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