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Buffalo Springfield

stills furay rock neil

Buffalo Springfield, distinctive folk-rock pioneers. MEMBERSHIP: Neil Young, first lead gtr., voc.(b. Toronto, Ontario, Can., Nov. 12, 1945); Stephen Stills, second lead gtr., kybd., voc. (b. Dallas, Jan. 3, 1945); Richie Furay, rhythm gtr., voc. (b. Yellow Springs, Ohio, May 9, 1944); Bruce Palmer, bs. (b. Liverpool, Nova Scotia, Can., Sept. 1946); Dewey Martin, drm. (b. Chesterville, Ontario, Can., Sept. 30, 1942). Jim Messina (b. Maywood, Calif., Dec. 5, 1947) sang and played bass with the group during its last months of existence.

Also known as The Herd in their early days, Buffalo Springfield formed in Los Angeles in the spring of 1966. Neil Young had played in several Canadian groups, including The Squires, and manned The Mynah Birds with Bruce Palmer and future funk star Rick James in the Detroit area before moving to Los Angeles in 1965. Stephen Stills and Richie Furay had been members of the N.Y.-based Au Go-Go Singers. Canadian Dewey Martin had played with the bluegrass group The Dillards and toured with Roy Orbison.

Performing an extended engagement as the house band at Los Angeles’ Whiskey A-Go-Go, Buffalo Springfield were featured at a July 1966 Hollywood Bowl concert and later toured with The Byrds and The Beach Boys. Signed to the Ateo subsidiary of Atlantic Records, their third single, Stills’s “For What It’s Worth,” became the group’s best-selling single and launched their popular recording career. Their debut album contained seven Stills songs, including the country-flavored “Go and Say Goodbye” and “Hot Dusty Roads,” and five Neil Young songs, including the beautiful love song “Do I Have to Come Right Out and Say It” and “Flying on the Ground Is Wrong,” both sung by Richie Furay. Relations between Stills and Young grew increasingly tense and Young left the group in the spring of 1967 for several months. Thus, Buffalo Springfield performed at the June 1967 Monterey International Pop Festival without Young.

Neil Young returned for the gutsier Buffalo Springfield Again, which contained a wider range of material, from the rock-and-roll of Young’s psychedelic “Mr. Soul” and Stills’s “Bluebird” and “Rock and Roll Woman” to the major production efforts of Young’s “Expecting to Fly” and “Broken Arrow.” Jim Messina handled part of the engineering duties along with playing some bass. Palmer departed in early 1968, and, amidst reports of dissension and group infighting, Last Time Around was produced by Jim Messina, who also played bass, sang, and contributed “Carefree Country Day.” Other outstanding songs on the album included “On the Way Home” and “I Am a Child” by Young, “Pretty Girl Why” and “Four Days Gone” by Stills, and Furay’s “Kind Woman.” Buffalo Springfield performed their last concert at Long Beach, Calif., in May 1968.

Subsequently, Jim Messina and Richie Furay formed Poco, whereas Neil Young recorded solo before joining Steve Stills in Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. Stills later recorded solo and Messina dueted with Kenny Loggins. In the mid 1970s Furay helped form the Souther-Hillman-Furay Band. Young has enjoyed an incredibly diverse solo career.

One of the first American groups to combine electric instrumentation and drums with distinctive, incisive songwriting and intricate vocal harmonies, Buffalo Springfield (along with The Byrds) pioneered both folk-rock and country-rock. Although the group featured three excellent singer-songwriter-guitarists, they failed to garner major commercial success during their existence, perhaps due to their inability to transfer the tension and excitement of their live shows onto recordings. Buffalo Springfield nonetheless produced the masterful Buffalo Springfield Again and became a rock legend, and the influence of their key members is still felt today through various aggregations and solo endeavors. Buffalo Springfield were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1997.


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