September 6, 2018

Buffalo Springfield

Buffalo Sringfield (L–R) Richie Furay, Dewey Martin, Bruce Palmer, Stephen Stills and Neil Young

Reissues of three seminal albums, Buffalo Springfield, Buffalo Springfield Again and Last Time Around celebrate the 50th anniversary of the band’s final show

BEFORE PLAYING THEIR FINAL SHOW ON May 5, 1968 at the Long Beach Sports Arena in Southern California, Buffalo Springfield released three studio albums on ATCO during an intense, two-year creative burst.

Those albums — Buffalo SpringfieldBuffalo Springfield Again, and Last Time Around — have been newly remastered from the original analog tapes under the auspices of Neil Young for the new boxed set: What’s That Sound? The Complete Albums Collection from Rhino Records.

It includes stereo mixes of the group’s three studio albums plus mono mixes for Buffalo Springfield and Buffalo Springfield Again. There are also CD and limited-edition vinyl sets.

So to acknowledge the 50th anniversary of Buffalo Springfield’s 1968 appearance, and Rhino’s target retail launch date of this package, earlier this decade I had asked some friends who attended that memorable event.

Chris Darrow: (Musician): By 1968, they had a number of hits with Still’s ‘Bluebird’ and ‘Rock and Roll Woman’ and Neil Young’s ‘Mr. Soul,’ as well as ‘Expecting to Fly’ and ‘Broken Arrow.’ The band had some tension among the members, both personally and musically, and began to go in opposite directions. I went to their final concert on May 5, 1968 at the Sports Arena in Long Beach. The set was long and intense and ended with a long 20 plus minute version of ‘Bluebird.’ Country Joe and the Fish and Canned Heat were also on the bill.”

Buffalo Sringfield: (L–R) Neil Young, Bruce Palmer, Richie Furay, Dewey Martin and Stephen Stills. Photo: Henry Diltz

Buffalo Springfield: (L–R) Neil Young, Bruce Palmer, Richie Furay, Dewey Martin and Stephen Stills.
Photo: Henry Diltz

Rodney Bingenheimer (Deejay): I went to Buffalo Springfield’s last concert in Long Beach. Neil was back in the band. I really liked drummer Dewey Martin and at the gig he dedicated ‘Good Time Boy’ to me. I was on the side of the stage and it was the best time I ever heard the group live. I was really sad when the band broke up. I was bummed out when I heard Buffalo Springfield was ending.”

Rick Rosas: (Musician) Mark Guerrero and went to the goodbye concert in Long Beach. It was pretty heavy. I was so young. It was really good. Some of the guitars were out of tune.”

Mark Guerrero (Musician): I saw the Buffalo Springfield’s farewell performance at the Long Beach Sports Arena May 5, 1968. It was a great show with one of its highlights being a hot version of ‘Uno Mundo,’ but it was sad to know it was the end of the road for the band.”

Denny Bruce: (Record producer/manager): I went to the last Buffalo Springfield concert in Long Beach. Neil [Young], Jack [Nitzsche] and I had a limo. Jimmy Messina came home with us. His head down and crying, ‘I can’t believe it’s over.’ It was a sense of relief for Neil. He was glad it was over.”

I witnessed Buffalo Springfield live on stage during December 1966 at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium and The Hollywood Bowl in April 1967

Their three 1966-1968 albums were always debuted over the Southern California airwaves before the rest of the world discovered them. You really had to live in Hollywood then to further understand and comprehend the initial impact of these regionally-birthed discs and artwork design.

I’M DELIGHTED BUFFALO SPRINGFIELD’S ERA-DEFINING BODY of work will be heard and discovered by new ears globally. I’m sure What’s That Sound? The Complete Albums Collection coupled with my 2009 published Canyon of Dreams: The Magic and the Music of Laurel Canyon will be examined, spurring additional interest for documentaries, stage endeavors and a slew of products that will be produced inspired by my teenage neighborhood. At Fairfax High School in West Hollywood our 1967 Driver’s Education class was located in Laurel Canyon and the adjacent Mt. Olympus. Try learning how to parallel park while “Nowadays Clancy Can’t Even Sing” was on the radio station KHJ play list!

Buffalo Springfield. Photo: Henry Diltz

Buffalo Springfield.
Photo: Henry Diltz

If you really want to learn something new about Buffalo Springfield and their audio legacy you may consider reading my 2015 coffee table size book Neil Young Heart of Gold, currently published in six foreign language editions. It provides revealing never before published observations and authentic accounts of the band’s 1966–1968 landmark existence.

What’s That Sound? The Complete Albums Collection from Rhino has a $39.98 list price. It’s out via digital download and streaming services. High resolution streaming and downloads are available through

The albums ware released — for the first time ever — on 180-gram vinyl as part of a limited-edition set of 5,000 copies for $114.98. The 5-LP box features the same mono and stereo mixes as the CD set, presented in sleeves and gatefolds that faithfully re-create the original releases.

What’s That Sound? The Complete Albums Collection is chronologically and sonically improved from the label’s 2001 Buffalo Springfield [Box Set], but the fan boy in me wishes the longer 9:00 minute version of “Bluebird” was included. It’s only available on the double LP vinyl gatefold self-titled Buffalo Springfield that was issued in 1973.

So enjoy these Buffalo Springfield recordings on compact disc and vinyl, as well as digital downloading, before record labels like Rhino cease pressing up hard product and become exclusively streaming services.

“In our world of music in 2018,” poses Jan Alan Henderson, “has any new product stood the test of time that this Buffalo Springfield box set will? Golden years, golden days as Mick Jagger and Keith Richards put it, ‘Lost in the silk sheets of time.’”

“Sure, this was one band who boasted within its rarefied ranks several musical characters of superb pedigree indeed,” realizes Gary Pig Gold …who, for the record, may never have visited Springfield but has been stranded in Buffalo several times. “Yet despite the fact that a failed Monkee and even a couple Au Go Go Singers were on board, I have for a half-century-and-counting insisted it was the presence of not one, but TWO certifiable Canadians that truly gave this band its shine, its sharpness, and undoubtedly a big part of its unmistakable sound …even on the stereo mixes.

Dewey Martin and Richie Furay. Photo: Henry Diltz

Dewey Martin and Richie Furay.
Photo: Henry Diltz

“I speak, of course, of (a) Neil Young, of whom little if anything need be added at this point, but especially of the (b) as in bassman — and so much besides — Bruce Palmer: Already by ’66 a veteran of more spectacular Toronto-area rhythm ‘n’ Merseybeat combos than even young Neil could’ve shook a Gretsch at, Bruce brought the incredibly innovative bottom he’d already punched onto such woofer-blowing discs as Jack London & the Sparrows’ ‘If You Don’t Want My Love’ (REQUIRED LISTENING, everyone!) to create the beyond-solid foundations his Buffalo bandmates relied to create upon and, yes, were expected to fly fully from.

“One could argue the Springfield was never the same – some might even say never completely recovered from – the loss of Palmer; not to mention the here today, maybe here tomorrow ways of his fellow Canucklehead Neil. But all great art, even pop (music) art, seems to burst best from turmoil, and that the Springfield always had in often self-defeating abundance. They ‘burned’ briefly, but oh, so brightly! As all the best herds, then and even now, seem to.

“They came, they played, and they cumbled. Fifty-some-odd years gone. But still as sound as ever.”

STEPHEN STILLS, NEIL YOUNG, RICHIE FURAY, Bruce Palmer and Dewey Martin played their first show together as Buffalo Springfield in 1966.

Richie Furay: The best time for the band? As far as I’m concerned, it was right at the beginning when we were the house band at the Whisky (May-June 1966), with the five original guys — Steve and Neil, Bruce, Dewey and me — there was an undeniable magic. Whether or not we were the best musicians didn’t matter; we had magic, and we all knew it. We had replacements later on when Bruce had his immigration troubles — and Jimmy Messina was the only one who came close — but that original group was our best.

“Look, walking in to Gold Star studio. I’m a young kid from Ohio. And to go in that studio, with all the history, and hear our music coming through those speakers, even though it’s a four track, was bigger than life.

“Ahmet Ertegun also encouraged us to learn the board. So we’d go in and we would record ‘em like some of the vocals were going to be done. Ahmet had heart and soul for the band. ‘Make these demos. Do whatever you need to do to make the product.’ Because of him the band got launched a lot quicker then maybe it could have. He definitely saw something in this band right away.”

Dewey Martin

Dewey Martin

Kirk Silsbee: (Journalist): The Springfield had three good writers, but Neil cranked out the bulk of the band’s material. It was very smart to give those vocals to Richie Furay. Neil had an odd voice, with a haunted edge to it and lacking warmth. Richie’s voice, on the other hand, was far more engaging and even sweet, in the best sense of the word. But listen to ‘Clancy’ — it’s quite a poignant vocal performance. The lyrics on ‘Clancy’ are emotionally torturous, which seemed to be Neil’s stock and trade at that time.

“Aside from ‘For What It’s Worth,’ it wasn’t a hit-record band. There was no FM in late ’66, but the Springfield eventually got a lot of FM airplay. In the year-and-a-half up to June 1967 — when the format changed — there was no station like KBLA. It was our pirate radio, and it set the stage for the FM revolution to come.

“Beginning in last part of 1965, KBLA made the bold choice to acknowledge the albums coming from these L.A. bands — not just the one or two hit songs pressed as 45s. And even though they weren’t getting played elsewhere, Burbank’s KBLA gave them parity with hit records. That was revolutionary as far as I was concerned. ‘Flying On The Ground is Wrong’ is one of the best post-Dylan songs of its time. In just three stanzas Neil brilliantly paints a picture of emotional disconnection and missed opportunity. Even though there’s an inviting girl in front of him, nothing is quite right in his world. It’s very poignant and you can’t minimize Richie Furay’s contribution to the success of the recording.

“I don’t know who arranged ‘For What It’s Worth’ but the pacing was brilliant. I think Dewey Martin has a great role on that particular record, and Bruce is also playing pretty minimal stuff. Of course, we know they could both play far more. It’s just a stark well-paced lament. Think about it this way: this is a hit record that went top ten. That’s pretty remarkable in itself. It was a hit record that had a very long shelf life and is still being played, discussed and sampled many years later. But in the middle of Hit Record Land, where everything had to be moving and they wanted bright colors and bright sounds in the music, this is a dead slow serious lament. It’s contrary to everything around it.”

Feb. 15, 1966, (L–R) Richie Furay, Stephen Stills, Neil Young Bruce Palmer and Dewey Martin. Photo: Henry Diltz

Feb. 15, 1966, (L–R) Richie Furay, Stephen Stills, Neil Young Bruce Palmer and Dewey Martin.
Photo: Henry Diltz

James Cushing: (KEBF-FM deejay): What was powerful about that song was partially the voice of Stephen Stills and partly that minimalist guitar from Neil Young. From the first album, Neil Young’s quirky, anti-virtuoso concept was fully formed. You hit just the right notes and let them ring out. Neil also voices chords in a unique way I don’t have the technical vocabulary to describe, but there’s something about the way he voices a chord versus the way Stephen Stills voices a chord. Maybe he likes to use different intervals. Maybe he likes to hit the notes in a different way. Together they are collaborative and competitive. As far as their sense of rhythm goes, I think Neil’s sense of rhythm is much more rooted in folk strums and strings. Stills is actually more rhythmically interesting than Neil. But one of the reasons that Stills sounds so interesting is that Neil always gives him that support. Stills’ strengths are enhanced by Neil’s strengths.”

BUFFALO SPRINGFIELD’S WORLD SPLINtered in January 1967. Bassist Bruce Palmer got into some immigration problems and deported back to Canada. During the period the band utilized various fill-in bass players (Ken Kolbun, Jim Fielder, and Bobby West on session dates) — from January to May — was when they were ostensibly recording their second album. The working title was Stampede.

Buffalo Springfield then started doing their sessions to Sunset Sound and discovered engineers Bruce Botnick and Jim Messina. It would become their studio of choice for Buffalo Springfield Again plus tracks for their next album, Last Time Around.

Rodney Bingenheimer (Sirius XM Deejay): In late April of 1967 I saw the amazing KHJ radio station appreciation concert at the Hollywood Bowl with Buffalo Springfield, the Fifth Dimension, Johnny Rivers, the Seeds, Brenda Holloway and the Supremes. Buffalo Springfield did an early set and then took a plane to San Francisco to play the Fillmore Auditorium.”

“93 cents is what I paid, sponsored by ‘93 KHJ,’ to see that ‘totally groovy’ show at the Hollywood Bowl,” recalled author Kenneth Kubernik in the pages of 1967 A Complete Rock Music History of the Summer of Love. “I was twelve years old, a veteran music consumer, fitfully replacing my picture-sleeved singles with the mighty LP. I was primed for something ‘heavy’ that would ‘blow my mind’ (not that I had a clue about the lurid underpinnings of these game-changing expressions).

“I had seen the Springfield several months earlier at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium (home of The TAMI Show) at a concert sponsored by radio station KBLA — Los Angeles a town ping-ponging between fickle loyalties to a raft of AM stations and their delirious radio personalities.

“I loved that Neil and Stephen played those ornate Gretsch guitars, as gold-plated and stylish as a Louis Quatorze furnishing. I remember them as being both rowdy and detailed in their music and their deportment; those fringe jackets nailing that curated pose of lawlessness.

“There was nothing transgressive about them — they were no threat to the state like the Doors or Arthur Lee and Love. They strived for a more authentically American sound; if they had a great keyboardist on board something of The Band lurked around their edges. Even then, though, you could sense that they weren’t built to last — a half-dozen great songs and… kablooey! But that’s always been Neil and Stephen’s MO.”

“I saw Buffalo Springfield [November 1967] at a college here [in New York] with the Youngbloods and the Soul Survivors. It was a great show,” remembers musician and Sirius XM deejay, Steven Van Zandt.

IN 2001 I INTERVIEWED RICHIE Furay about Buffalo Springfield. Sections of our conversation first appeared in Goldmine and in my 2017 book, 1967 A Complete Rock Music History of the
Summer of Lov

“We were always comfortable singing someone else’s song early on. The first album and some of the second, you can hear the cohesiveness was a group effort, there was not the possessiveness of ‘this is my song, this is my baby. I’m singing it because I wrote it.’ Early on there was this ‘what does this sound like with you singing?’ I know we tried ‘Mr. Soul’ with everybody singing and it sounded best with Neil. “The individual members brought their own take on what was being presented to the song. We liked the Beatles with John and Paul singing harmony. Stephen and I did a lot of that unison singing. That we picked up from the Beatles but then there was a lot of experimentation”

The group spent the first half of 1967 making Buffalo Springfield Again, which was the first album to feature songs written by Furay (“A Child’s Claim To Fame.”) Stills and Young both contributed some classics with “Bluebird” and “Rock And Roll Woman” from Stills, and “Mr. Soul” and Young’s “Expecting to Fly.”

Richie Furay: Otis Redding? Yeah — Dewey brought him to us. We were playing this little club in New York City, called Ondine’s (December 31, ’66-January 9, ’67), and Otis came in; Dewey knew him from somewhere. He sang with us — what a thrill that was! That meant so much to Steve. That’s right — Otis wanted to record ‘Mr. Soul.’ I guess Neil didn’t want him to. A visionary? Otis sure was; what a man!”

NOVEMBER SAW THE RELEASE of their second album, Buffalo Springfield Again, a defining moment in L.A. music history; like Brian Wilson before them, the Springfield meshed song craft with new recording techniques, elevating the music to a rarefied state of eloquence.

Daniel Weizmann (Author): Sweet, lilting, and hypnotic, ‘Rock and Roll Woman’ by Stephen Stills was based on a jam session he had with Byrd-man David Crosby. Rumor has it that it’s an ode to Jefferson Airplane’s Grace Slick. True or not, the character he portrays was ultra-fresh in ‘67 — a free-spirited woman that is not a fan or a muse. She herself has total rock and roll agency.

“For my money, ‘Mr. Soul’ is about Dylan — whether or not Neil Young intended it that way. Young wrote it in five minutes at the UCLA Medical Center where he was recovering from a bad epilepsy episode. The dark clown/icon on a bad trip death wish, lost in the hall of mirrors that is fame channels the Man Behind the Shades, and delivers a tragic flipside to the bright comedy of the Byrds’ ‘So You Wanna Be a Rock and Roll Star.’ All over the “Satisfaction” riff turned inside-out no less.

“But both ‘Rock and Roll Woman’ and ‘Mr. Soul’ illustrate how Buffalo Springfield rep a new self-conscious sophistication, a kind of ‘meta-rock’ energy never before seen.

“Earlier L.A. bands like the Byrds, Love, and the Standells exposed their secret innocence with every move — even when they were mugging blue-steel looks for the camera, Stones-style. Some of those bands contained members that looked like they’d wandered in straight from the local soda fountain. Even the Doors seem like a happy accident of youth at times, pink-cheeked college kids jamming jazz on summer break.

“Buffalo Springfield on the other hand came out of the box seasoned, almost a pre-super group. Many members had been around the block, had flopped out at Monkees auditions and paid bar band dues. They enlisted Sonny & Cher’s management team and could pull off a full-force live show. Who else could play a complex jam like “Bluebird” — a pop-soul-folk blowout with acid rock frenzy, Gabor Szabo-style meanderings, and dense harmonies, all cascading into an Appalachian banjo denouement? They were almost like the last soldiers standing on the Sunset Strip, and their composure was ahead of its time, the birth of rustic rock royalty.”

“THE BUFFALO SPRINGFIELD JUST sort of snuck UP on everybody,” summarized drummer/writer Paul Body in a 2018 email. “From ’66 until they shattered like glass, they were everywhere or seemed to be.

“Saw them open for the Stones in the Summer of ’66. All fringe and cowboy hats. I seem to remember them doing ‘Nowadays, Clancy Can’t Even Sing.’ Saw them at the Whisky with the Daily Flash opening for them. They were just part of that magic Summer. By the time ’67 rolled around the first album was out and then there was that little riot on the Sunset Strip that the Springfield immortalized in ‘For What It’s Worth.’ Saw them at the Monterey International Pop Festival and they were pretty good. The long version of ‘Bluebird’ was played all Summer. For some reason that version wasn’t put on the album.

“It was a great look into the future, a future that never came because by ’68, there was a drug bust and they went their separate ways. For about two years, there was a Buffalo Springfield Stampede and then the flame was gone. For two years they were as good as it got to be.”

On July 30, 1968, Last Time Around, a posthumous album by Buffalo Springfield that was recorded February-May of ’68, materialized. When Last Time Around came out in July 1968, the band members were in the midst of transitioning to new projects: Stills famously joined David Crosby and Graham Nash in CSN; Young went solo; and Furay started Poco with Jim Messina, who produced Last Time Around and played bass on two of the songs.

Richie Furay: And always remember Bruce Palmer’s bass playing. What an interesting melodic bass player. Only played the notes he had to play. Dewey Martin our drummer. I got him ‘Good Time Boy’ so he wouldn’t have to do ‘Midnight Hour.’

“Dewey made it clear that he didn’t just want to play drums; he wanted to sing as well. He wanted to sing like Wilson Pickett! As a drummer, Dewey could adapt to anything we might want to play—the country, the rock, and the Memphis-style soul. He had great time and a real sense of what would fit. What I liked about him was his great, outgoing personality. Those old video clips of the band? Yeah, Dewey was having fun on those TV shows; and that’s a great way to describe him: zen happiness. He really enjoyed making the music.”

“Buffalo Springfield’s Last Time Around was akin to the Beatles White Album in that it was recorded at a time the band was breaking up, so many of the songs were not recorded as a band,” explains musician and record producer Mark Guerrero. “It was like three solo artists coming in and doing their thing. However, it’s still a really good album with some great songs. Neil Young’s ‘On the Way Home,’ sung by Richie, and the acoustic gem ‘I Am a Child’; Stephen Stills: his bluesy ‘Four Days Gone’ in 3/4 time with his great piano accompaniment; ‘Questions’ — one of my favorite Stills songs; ‘Pretty Girl Why’—a kind of Latin jazz song with nice two-part harmony on the choruses; and ‘Uno Mundo’ — a Latin-style song with full-blown Latin percussion that was later covered by the East L.A. band El Chicano. Richie Furay: the beautiful ‘It’s So Hard to Wait.’”

“In the short three year life span of the Buffalo Springfield, Last Time Around was their last piece of original work — their swan song as the title so-implies,” offers Gene Aguilera, East L.A. music historian and author (Latino Boxing in Southern California and Mexican American Boxing in Los Angeles).

“Well-known for their ego battles, subtle clues in the LP’s art work gives a glimpse into their break-up. A pronounced crack on the front cover separates Neil Young from the rest of the group; though on this final LP, Neil penned two of his finest works: ‘I Am a Child’ and the opener ‘On The Way Home.’ The back cover further shows the group’s fragile state, as individual band member photos are cut-out to form a fractured montage; and a snippet of a Los Angeles Times article on the Springfield’s Topanga Canyon drug bust delivers the band’s final eulogy.

“By the time of the album’s release, original bass player Bruce Palmer was gone; enter Jim Messina (formerly of surf band Jim Messina & His Jesters; later of Poco) to serve as Buffalo Springfield’s producer, recording engineer, and bass player. Adding to the wounds, a bizarre contest by local radio station KHJ-AM for listeners to submit their poetry to be used as lyrics for a new Springfield song became the opening track of side two, ‘The Hour of Not Quite Rain.’

“All was not lost in the delivery though, as the Springfield broke up releasing their most beautiful and compelling album yet (containing such gems as ‘Kind Woman,’ ‘On The Way Home,’ ‘Pretty Girl Why’); at the same time curtailing Richie Furay’s rise as a writer, singer, and performer within the band.

“Soon after, my hair was getting good in the back as I walked the streets of East L.A. wearing thrift store plaid cowboy shirts in a living testament to one of my favorite albums and groups.”

Richie Furay: Everything happened so fast. We were young. We were new. When we did a six week house band stint at The Whisky we thought we had no competition. It’s pretty incredible, isn’t it? Five young guys who brought five different elements together. When we put out stuff together, it was like ‘here’s what I want to contribute to your song, Stephen and Neil.’ We took elements of folk, blues, and country and we established our own sound. We were pioneers, and I see that.

“As far as Buffalo Springfield’s catalog, why it still reaches people, I guess it has to be the songs. Buffalo Springfield was very eclectic. I mean, we reached into so many genres. Look, the original five members of Buffalo Springfield couldn’t be replaced. There were nine people out of the Springfield in two years. Jimmy Messina came in late in the game and did a fine job. I worked with him on Last Time Around.”

“I think we’re one of the most popular, mysterious American bands. The mystique has lasted for some reason. Two years, a monster anthem hit of the ‘60s, but no one really knew us. Neil has gone on to become an icon, Stephen has made enormous contributions, CS&N, and look at me into Poco, which I believe opened the doors for the contemporary country rock sound. Our legacy speaks for itself.”

Harvey Kubernik is the author of 14 books, including heralded titles on Leonard Cohen and Neil Young. His 2017 volume, the acclaimed 1967 A Complete Rock History of the Summer of Love was published by Sterling/Barnes and Noble. His literary music anthology Inside Cave Hollywood: The Harvey Kubernik Music InnerViews and InterViews Collection, Vol. 1 was recently published in late December 2017, by Cave Hollywood. Kubernik’s multi-voice narrative book The Doors Summer’s Gone was published by Other Cottage Industries in
March 2018.

One Comment

  1. Mike Thomas

    That great photo by Henry Diltz of the Springfield at the KHJ Hollywood Bowl concert misidentifies the bass player. That’s Jim Fielder not Bruce Palmer. Bruce had already had his first best and been deported.

    Great article, thanks!

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