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The Buffalo Springfield

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The band's entire career lasted something like nineteen months; they released three albums of new material, one of which at least one member disowns. Yet the impact of Buffalo Springfield is widespread and undeniable - and would be even if they hadn't spawned Poco; Crosby, Stills and Nash; and Neil Young. Add Loggins & Messina, if you don't share Young's attitude toward that third album, Last Time Around.

The original group - Stephen Stills, Neil Young, Richie Furay, Bruce Palmer and Dewey Martin - met in Los Angeles. All were from elsewhere, notably Canada, the birthplace of Young, Palmer and Martin. All save drummer Martin had worked together in various combinations before: Stills and Furay in the New York-based Au Go-Go Singers folk troupe; Young and bassist Palmer in The Mynah Birds, an East Coast rock band fronted by Rick James long before he became a Motown star. Martin had worked in the Pacific Northwest before moving to California.

Driving down Sunset Boulevard, Stills and Furay passed a hearse, whose driver looked familiar. It was, in fact, Young, whom the two had met in New York City, with Palmer riding shotgun. Soon, the second-greatest (behind The Byrds) Southern California band was born. Tension among the members existed almost from the beginning, Stills and Young having particularly flammable personalities. Yet the chemistry was as undeniable as their songwriting, singing and instrumental skill, exhibited on songs including Young's "Nowadays Clancy Can't Even Sing" (sung by Furay) and "Mr. Soul"; Furay's "Go and Say Goodbye" and Stills' "Bluebird." The group's biggest hit, "For What It's Worth," was written by Stills in response to the police treatment of youth rioting on - again - Sunset Boulevard in the wake of curfews; the song took on far wider resonance as the Vietnam War deepened. In June, 1967, the band performed at the Monterey Pop Festival, with former Daily Flash guitarist Doug Hastings subbing for the away-in-a-snit Young. Less than a year later, the band was history..

By their third and posthumously-released album, Last Time Around, was recorded, Palmer had departed, to be replaced by bassist, singer, guitarist and engineer Jim Messina. While the album contains many songs that fans would consider excellent, Young refused to include a single cut on the boxed set he assembled and the rest of the band presumably signed off on. (Fortunately, it's still available as a stand-alone, as are the band's first two albums).

In November 1968, Pogo - a band formed by Furay, Messina, and Rusty Young (a steel guitarist who had guested on "Kind Woman," one of Furay's cuts on Last Time Around) - debuted at Los Angeles's Troubadour club with a style that was even more "country" than the Springfield. Walt Kelly, creator of the comic-strip opossum, Pogo, objected; the band soon changed its name to "Poco". The next year, Crosby, Stills & Nash released their first album, and appeared at the Woodstock Festival Young went his own way, occasionally joining with Crosby, Stills and Nash. Buffalo Springfield's legacy continues to this day, and shows no signs of abating.

© 2004