Buffalo Springfield

Buffalo SpringfieldFrom: Los Angeles, CA, USA

Now considered a legendary band, Buffalo Springfield is renowned both for the music that they produced and as a starting point for the careers of Neil Young, Stephen Stills, Richie Furay, and Jim Messina. Buffalo Springfield were one of the first bands in North America to become popular during the wave of the British invasion, combining rock, folk, and country influences in their music.

Buffalo Springfield formed in April 1966, and were faced in incredible problems that resulted in their demise after only two years. Conflicts within the band, particularly between Stills and Young, drug-related arrests, and numerous line-up changes proved too much for the band.

Neil Young and Stephen Stills first met each other in 1965 at the Fourth Dimension in Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada. Young was with his band the Squires and Stills with a band called the Company. It would be close to a year until the two saw each other again, but they both developed a strong interest in working together.

At the end of their tour, the Company disbanded and Stills moved to the West Coast. Starting out as a session musician, Stills auditioned for the Monkees. Unsuccessful at making the band, Stills was told by record producer Barry Friedman that work was available if he could put together a band. Inviting former Au Go Go Singers Richie Furay and former Squires bass player Ken Koblun to come and join him. They both agreed to join Stills’ band, however Koblun left soon after to rejoin the band 3’s A Crowd.

In the early parts of 1966, Neil Young met Bruce Palmer in Toronto, a Canadian bass player for the band the Mynah Birds. The band was in need of a lead guitarist, so Palmer asked Young to join. Young accepted the offer and the Mynah Birds were set to record an album for Motown Records. Before recording was able to begin, singer Ricky James Matthews was arrested by the U.S. Navy for being AWOL, and the record deal was canceled. Young and Palmer headed to L.A. in hopes of meeting up with Stills.

After about of week of being unable to track down Stills, Young and Palmer were discouraged and were ready to move to San Francisco. The two were stuck in traffic on Sunset Boulevard in L.A. when Still, Furay, and Friedman recognized Young’s black 1953 Pontiac hearse happening to pass them by in the opposite direction. Eventually, the two vehicles met up and the four musicians decided they would form a band. Dewey Martin (drums) was added to the group less than a week later after the Byrds manger, Jim Dickson, suggested he give the band a call. Martin had previously been a member of the garage band the Standells and worked with country artists like Patsy Cline and the Dillards.

Buffalo Springfield got their name off of the side of a steamroller, made by the Buffalo-Springfield Roller Company. The band made their debut on April 11, 1966 at the Troubadour in Hollywood. Only a few days later, Buffalo Springfield began a short tour of California as the opening act for the Dillards and the Byrds.

The Byrds’ tour ended shortly after, and Chris Hillman immediately persuaded the owners of the Whisky A Go Go to give Buffalo Springfield an audition, and the band became the house band for the Whisky for the next month and a half. Eventually, Buffalo Springfield landed a record deal with Ahmet Ertegün of Atlantic Records, where it was arranged for the band to start recording at Gold Star Studios in Hollywood. Young, Stills, and Furay recorded all the demos for the album, but the album’s producers, Greene and Stone, felt that Young’s voice was too weird, and had Furay sing lead on most of Neil’s tracks.

The first single Buffalo Springfield released was “Nowadays Clancy Can’t Even Sing.” The song made little impact outside of Los Angeles, where it reached the Top 25. Disappointed by the single’s lack of success, the group decided to rework some of the songs for the rest of the album. Young and Stills would argue for years that the original mono mix was better than the stereo mix that Greene and Stone came up with. The debut album was a self-titled release, originally issued on Atlantic’s Atco label in December 1966. A revamped issue of the album was released in March of 1967.

One of the biggest anthems of the 1960s came in the form of Stills’ 1966 song  “For What It’s Worth.” Stills wrote the song after witnessing police actions in the crowds of young people who gathered on the Sunset Strip. These gatherings were protesting the closing of the nightclub Pandora’s Box. By March of 1967, “For What It’s Worth” had become a Top Ten hit. The song sold over one million copies and was awarded a gold disc.

The band began to see some turnover near the beginning of 1967. In January, they flew to New York where Palmer was first arrested for possession of marijuana. Palmer was thus deported back to Canada. A number of different bassist were used in place of Palmer, including Mike Barnes and Jim Fielder of the Mothers Of Invention. There was even one performance that saw the band’s manager play the bass for them, even though he did not actually know how to play.

It was under these chaotic conditions that work on a second album began. Both Young and Stills had a hard time trusting Greene and Stone, and also found themselves arguing with each other, and both insisted on producing their own compositions. Furay did not contribute any of the songs on the first album, but came forward and equaled the work of Young for the second album.

Palmer would return to Buffalo Springfield in June of 1967, but Young had already left the band. Young would end up missing the Monterey Pop Festival, where the band performed with ex-Daily Flash and future member of Rhinoceros, Doug Hastings on guitar. David Crosby also joined the band as a guest. Young did return to the band in early October of ’67 at the Third Eye in Redondo Beach, CA. Greene and Stone were dismissed, and Ertegün took over as producer for what would go on to become Buffalo Springfield Again.

Buffalo Springfield Again is often viewed as more of a collection of individual works than it is a group effort, but the album is considered by many to be the band’s best release. The album was recorded in 1967, and features classics like “Mr. Soul,” Rock & Roll Woman,” “Bluebird,” “Sad Memory,” and “Broken Arrow.” “Bluebird” has come to be considered Buffalo Springfield at its peak, a song that became a live staple, that saw the band jam for several minutes.

With the success of Buffalo Springfield Again, the band’s fortunes began to look bright. However, in 1968, Palmer was again deported for drug possession, something that significantly hindered the band. Jim Messina was brought in as Palmer’s permanent replacement on bass. Once Palmer was gone, Young’s appearances became increasingly rare, resulting in Stills to handle most of the lead guitar parts at concerts. The third album was predominantly produced by Messina, but it was clear that the band was on the verge of collapsing. It was in April of 1968 that the band broke up, following another drug bust, this time involving Young, Furay, Messina, and Eric Clapton. Buffalo Springfield performed their last concert of the 20th Century on May 5, 1968. The last album was appropriately titled Last Time Around, compiled by Furay and Messina after the band had split.

Stills would go on to form Crosby, Stills & Nash with David Crosby of the Byrds and Graham Nash of the Hollies in 1968. Young began a solo career, but reunited with Stills in Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. Furay and Messina founded the country-rock band Poco, before Furay joined J.D Souther and Chris Hillman to form the Souther-Hillman-Fury Band, and Messina went on to work with Kenny Loggins in Loggins & Messina. Palmer would go on to release an unsuccessful solo album in 1970, as well as a stint with Toronto-based band Luke & The Apostles. Buffalo Springfield were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1997. Sadly, Palmer passed away in October of 2004, and Martin passed away in January 2009.

Artist information sources include: Wikipedia

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Tracks played on Psychedelicized…

  • For What It’s Worth – [Live At Monterey Pop Festival]
  • Nowadays Clancy Can’t Even Sing – [Live At Monterey Pop Festival]
  • Rock & Roll Woman^Bluebird  [Live At Monterey Pop Festival]

From the 1966 album Buffalo Springfield
Buffalo Springfield (Album)

  • Go And Say Goodbye
  • Sit Down I Think I Love You
  • Leave
  • Nowadays Clancy Can’t Even Sing
  • Everybody’s Wrong
  • Flying On The Ground Is Wrong
  • Burned
  • Do I Have To Come Right Out And Say It
  • Baby Don’t Scold Me
  • Out Of My Mind
  • Pay The Price
  • For What It’s Worth [On the 1967 reissue]

From the 1967 album Buffalo Springfield Again
Buffalo Springfield Again

  • Mr. Soul
  • A Child’s Claim To Fame
  • Everydays
  • Expecting To Fly
  • Bluebird
  • Hung Upside Down
  • Rock & Roll Woman
  • Broken Arrow

From the 1968 album Last Time Around
Last Time Around

  • On The Way Home
  • Pretty Girl Why
  • Four Days Gone
  • Special Care
  • The Hour Of Not Quite Rain
  • Questions
  • I Am A Child
  • Merry-Go-Round
  • Uno Mundo
  • Kind Woman

From the 2001 box set Buffalo Springfield
Box Set

  • Baby Don’t Scold Me (Alternate)
  • We’ll See
  • Down Down Down
  • Kahuna Sunset
  • Buffalo Stomp (Raga)
  • My Kind Of Love
  • No Sun Today
  • Down To The Wire
  • Old Laughing Lady (Demo)
  • Whatever Happened To Saturday Night
  • Falcon Lake (Ash On The Floor)
  • What A Day