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Buffalo Springfield was a seminal American rock band formed in Los Angeles, California, in 1966.
The band's brief but influential career left an indelible mark on the music landscape of the 1960s. Comprising a talented group of musicians, including Stephen Stills, Neil Young, Richie Furay, Bruce Palmer, and Dewey Martin, Buffalo Springfield played a pivotal role in shaping the sound and direction of folk-rock and laid the groundwork for several iconic careers.
Here is a detailed history of Buffalo Springfield:
Buffalo Springfield came together in 1966, emerging from the vibrant music scene of Los Angeles. Stephen Stills, a gifted songwriter and guitarist, teamed up with Neil Young, an enigmatic singer-songwriter with a distinctive voice and guitar style. The two had met in Canada but reunited in California. Richie Furay, a folk musician from New York, completed the core trio.
Initially, the group went by the name "The Herd," but they soon discovered that another band had the same name. They adopted "Buffalo Springfield," inspired by a steamroller manufacturer and a place name they had seen on a steamroller parked outside their house.
Debut Album and Early Success (1966-1967):
In 1966, Buffalo Springfield signed with Atco Records, a subsidiary of Atlantic Records, and released their self-titled debut album in December. The album featured songs that would become classics, including "For What It's Worth," a protest anthem written by Stephen Stills in response to the Sunset Strip curfew riots in Los Angeles.
"For What It's Worth" catapulted the band to stardom, and the song became an anthem for the counterculture movement of the 1960s. The album also showcased the band's versatility, blending folk, rock, and country influences.
Lineup Changes and More Albums (1967):
Buffalo Springfield's lineup was marked by instability, primarily due to personal and creative tensions within the band. Bruce Palmer, the bassist, encountered visa issues and was temporarily deported to Canada, leading to his replacement by Jim Messina.
In 1967, the band released their second album, "Buffalo Springfield Again," which featured songs like "Mr. Soul" and "Bluebird," written by Neil Young and Stephen Stills, respectively. The album showcased the individual songwriting talents of the band members and further solidified their reputation as pioneers of folk-rock.
Disbandment and Legacy (1968):
As the year progressed, internal conflicts continued to intensify. Neil Young was briefly hospitalized due to health issues, and Stephen Stills was arrested on charges of narcotics possession. These factors, coupled with creative differences, took their toll on the band. Buffalo Springfield played their final concert on May 5, 1968, at the Long Beach Arena.
After the disbandment, Stephen Stills and Neil Young went on to enjoy successful solo careers. Richie Furay formed Poco and later joined the Souther-Hillman-Furay Band. Bruce Palmer and Dewey Martin, the rhythm section of Buffalo Springfield, also pursued music in various capacities.
Buffalo Springfield's influence endured long after their breakup. They paved the way for the country-rock sound that would define the 1970s, and their songwriting prowess and musical innovation left an indelible mark on subsequent generations of musicians.
Reunions and Honors:
Buffalo Springfield's legacy was celebrated with a brief reunion in 2010, featuring Stephen Stills, Neil Young, and Richie Furay. The band performed a series of concerts, including appearances at the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival.
In recognition of their significant impact on music, Buffalo Springfield was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1997.
Though their time together was relatively short, Buffalo Springfield's contributions to rock and folk music endure as a testament to their musical brilliance and the cultural significance of the 1960s counterculture.