Folk merged with Rock as Canada merged with America in the seminal band Buffalo Springfield. The name was derived from a brand of steamroller produced in Springfield, Ohio-based company Buffalo-Springfield Steamroller Company. The name proved prophetic as the group steamrolled their way to the top of the charts.
Initial members included Stephan Stills (vocals, guitar, keyboards), Dewey Martin (drums, vocals), Bruce Palmer (bass), Richie Furay (guitar, vocals), and Neil Young (vocals, guitar, piano, harp).
In 1966, the group signed with Atlantic Records and soon released the single “Nowadays Clancy Can’t Even Sing” – in Los Angeles. It became a local LA hit. Instant fame came later that year with the release of “For What It’s Worth”, a strangely abstract name for a scathing, ominous protest song.
“There’s something happening here,
What it is ain’t exactly clear,
There’s a man with a gun over there,
Tellin’ me I got to beware.
It’s time to stop, children,
What’s that sound,
What’s goin’ down.”
The song struck the right tone at the right time. Nightly news routinely provided the daily body count out of Vietnam. Unfortunate son’s were returned to their parents in flag-draped wooden boxes in growing numbers. Campuses across the land boiled with mistrust and contempt for the leaders that fomented war for their own oily purposes.
The Domino Effect was dished out as the reason for the undeclared, and in many minds, illegal war. The theory proffered forth was that if Vietnam fell then Laos, Cambodia, and Thailand would quickly follow and soon most of the world would be controlled by Communists that would then attack and conquer America. As silly as that sounds, the average American swallowed it like a ravenous catfish. All but the thinking individuals at Universities and Colleges fell lockstep with the theory. The government would never lie.
Anti-war protests became daily visuals for TV’s Walter Cronkite, Huntley and Brinkley, and radio hosts nationwide. “Hell no! We won’t go!” became the plaintiff cry of youth. Draft cards were burnt in open defiance of the involuntary induction process that drew heavily from the underprivileged.
Buffalo Springfield fed on that discontent and partook of the abundance of illegal drugs available to them at the time. This led to various “busts” of band members causing instability, cat fights, and mistrust that eroded their collective creativity. There were several member changes over the two-year life of the band.
The groups second, and last, album was titled Buffalo Springfield Again that contained a gathering of forgettable songs with the exception of Bluebird. Wait, I just listened to the song again and it is best forgotten.
After two short years the band had run its course. However, connections made during that time led to solo careers for Stephan Stills and Neil Young and to the combination of Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young.
While the band produced only one bellwether tune, it did foster and fuel the ascension of the aforementioned luminaries. The legend of the band grew after their breakup leading inexplicably to their inclusion in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1997. Yet in 2016, Delaney & Bonnie are still excluded despite the fact that more than a dozen musicians they influenced have been included. Fitting that the R&RHOF sits in stinky Cleveland.