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Buffalo Springfield


If you look at the late '60s charts you might get the impression that Buffalo Springfield was a one hit wonder with the confrontational ballad "For What It's Worth," written by Stephen Stills. While never hugely popular Buffalo Springfield was a great, if short-lived, group. They had a nucleus of three guitarist/vocalists. Dallas born Stills, Toronto native Neil Young and Richie Furay who hailed from Yellow Springs, Ohio, of all places. Also on board were Canadians Dewey Martin on drums and vocals, while Bruce Palmer handled bass. In the swirl of groups starting and breaking up, they had come across each other in their various travels until finally migrating to L.A. There they formed Buffalo Springfield. They had seen the name printed on a steamroller. Go figure.

In April of '66 they opened for the Byrds at the Orange County Fairgrounds. Byrd Chris Hillman was impressed and recommended the group to the management of L.A.'s Whiskey A-Go-Go, a hot Sunset Boulevard club. Soon they had a recording contract with Atlantic and released their self-titled debut in '67 with all the songs being written by either Stills or Young. But Stills, reacting to police/youth tensions in L.A. composed "For What It's Worth."

Their try at a second album stayed in the bin only showing up in bootleg versions. Palmer ran into drug trouble and got deported. He returned only to get deported again and replaced by Jim Messina. On top of that, Young was having trouble with Stills and split. At the Monterey Pop Festival Byrd, David Crosby appeared with the Buffalo Springfield and that appearance got him into trouble with the Byrd's leader Roger McGuinn, putting the capper on an already bad relationship. Crosby was about to become a free agent. Young came back in time to record the next official effort, "Buffalo Springfield Again."




The original incarnation's last performance was a 5/5/68 Long Beach, CA, show opening for the Iron Butterfly. By the time the third album "Last Time Around" was released the band had been history for nearly half a year.

Here's why Buffalo Springfield is important. Not only did they have strong songs and talented musicians, they, unlike most other Folk influenced groups, could Rock. Stills' "Rock 'N' Roll Woman" is a perfect example. Great lyrics. Then there's Young's song "Mr. Soul." It was an incredible "price of fame" song with Young's laconic vocals riding a great guitar riff. The heavy guitar solo delivers a furious burst of distortion. Overall, it was the best song they recorded.

People look back and see who was in the band and are plenty impressed. That's not the way to view Buffalo Springfield. The music stands on its own merit. Of course, Stills got together with Crosby and Nash. Furay also went the soft-rock route with Poco. Young's solo career and his teaming with Crazy Horse was far more rewarding - and outweighed his stops with CSN.

As far back as '00, Young mentioned the possibility of a Buffalo Springfield reunion, most notably singing the line "see those guys again and give it a shot" in the song "Buffalo Springfield Again."

In '04, Palmer died and five years later Martin passed away. Though a full reunion was not possible, the surviving members - Furay, Stills and Young, plus Rick Rosas and Joe Vitale - embarked on a short California-centered tour in '11.

Buffalo Springfield Discography

Albums:

1966 Buffalo Springfield
1967 Buffalo Springfield Again
1968 Last Time Around

Though they had a brief career, Buffalo Springfield produced two great albums mixing Country and Folk with Rock. "Buffalo Springfield" contains the protest song "For What It's Worth." It's an excellent debut but its successor "Buffalo Springfield Again" is better. It has both Young's "Mr. Soul" and Stills' "Rock and Roll Woman." "Last Time Around" is a good album but not a great one. Group friction was starting to take its toll. "Retrospective" covers the group's musical forays.

 

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