Singer calls longtime manager, who died Friday at age of 76, “tough as a barbed wire fence, fiercely loyal and keenly observant”

Stephen Stills  remembered legendary music manager Elliot Roberts, who helped guide the careers of Neil Young, Joni Mitchell and CSNY, following Roberts’ death Friday at the age of 76.

In a statement to Rolling StoneStills called Roberts “probably the kindest, gentlest, and far and away the funniest man I ever worked with in Show Business.”

“He was also tough as a barbed wire fence, fiercely loyal and keenly observant; guarding the best interests of his clients with uncommon tenacity and skill,” Stills wrote.

“But his greatest gift was his soulful, open heart. No doubt it was the source of his sensitivity and singular understanding of the courageous honesty with which a great artist willingly reveals their soul and transports us. He allowed himself to feel the vulnerability of being fully immersed in the moment, yet oddly untethered. It is a profound experience and not easily undertaken. I have seen him do it, and felt him with me, swimming in the ether.”

Roberts, who in addition to being Young’s longtime manager also worked alongside artists ranging from Tom Petty, Tracy Chapman and the Cars, died Friday, a rep for Roberts’ Lookout Management confirmed to Rolling Stone. No cause of death was revealed.

In his statement, Stills praised Roberts’ “unique ability to recognize a great artist when he saw one. His natural empathy was perfectly suited for his emergence as an enormously impactful personal manager to a collection of the most legendary artists of our time. I am honored to have been his friend, forever grateful that he chose to represent me. I truly loved Elliot Roberts and shall miss him beyond measure.”

Stills’ Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young band mate Graham Nash previously said in a statement, “He was the glue that kept CSNY together in our early years and I will certainly miss him with sadness in my heart.”

Young called Roberts “the greatest manager of all time” in a tribute he penned Saturday. “Never one to think of himself, he puts everyone else first. That’s what he did for me for over fifty years of friendship, love and laughter, managing my life, protecting our art in the business of music. That’s what he did,” Young wrote. “When it came to our business, Elliot guided me through every move. We talked every day. Often I would call him multiple times in a day, arguing, discussing, planning and sharing. He was there for me and protected my music with a fierceness.