Live, for the First Time Anywhere: Buffalo Springfield

Friday, April 11, 2014
Live, for the First Time Anywhere: Buffalo Springfield

It was 48 years ago today that Buffalo Springfield first got the chance to play...well, you know, in front of an actual audience, that is.

On April 11, 1966, Richie Furay, Stephen Stills, Neil Young, Dewey Martin, and Bruce Palmer made their public debut as Buffalo Springfield – a name they heisted off the side of a steamroller – at the Troubadour in Hollywood, California, and there are few bands where the hand of fate seemed so strongly involved in their formation.

Young and Stills first met in Thunder Bay, Ontario, when Young was leading a Winnipeg-based band called The Squires and Stills was part of a New York folk group called The Company, but while the two had an immediate musical chemistry, they nonetheless continued on their own paths. Soon after returning to New York, Stills relocated to California, along with Furay, a fellow folkie, while Young left The Squires when he was invited by Palmer to join the Mynah Birds…and here’s where the story really gets interesting. When the Mynah Birds blew up after their lead singer – one Rick James (yes, that Rick James) – was arrested for having gone AWOL from the US Navy, Young talked Palmer into following him to L.A. to look for Stills, even though he had no idea how to contact him. After a week without success, Young and Palmer were on their way out of L.A., heading for San Francisco, when the sort of thing that only ever happens in movies actually happened in real life: Stills and Furay recognized Young’s very distinctive 1953 Pontiac hearse when it passed them on Sunset Boulevard, pulled a highly illegal U-turn, finally caught up with them and got their attention, and…well, you know how it goes: the rest is history.

Oh, right, except we didn’t mention how Martin joined the band. Basically, he’d played with everyone from the Standells to Patsy Cline, and when Jim Dickson, manager of the Byrds, heard about Buffalo Springfield, he said to Martin, “You should totally see if those guys need a drummer.” Well, maybe he didn’t say it quite like that, but he still got the job, and that’s what counts.

And the gig at the Troubadour…? Well, we weren’t actually there, but we hear it went pretty well. But we’re just basing that on the below playlist, which features some of the amazing music that resulted from these five guys joining forces.