On This Day In Music: Buffalo Springfield Formed


On this day in 1966, Neil Young, Stephen Stills and Richie Furay formed Buffalo Springfield in Los Angeles, California. They were among the first wave of American bands to become popular in the wake of the British Invasion. The group combined rock, folk, and country music into a sound all its own. Their million-selling song ‘For What It’s Worth’ became a political anthem for the turbulent late 1960s.

The wheels were set in motion when Stephan Still’s band at the time broke up and he moved the West coast. He auditioned for a few things while in L.A, including The Monkees!Around this time, Neil Young met Bruce Palmer, a bass player for a band Mynah Birds. The band needed a lead guitarist, so Bruce asked Neil and he accepted. They were all set to record an album when their singer Ricky James Matthews (James Ambrose Johnson, Jr.) (later known as Rick James) arrested by the U.S. Navy for being AWOL.The record deal cancelled; Bruce and Neil went to Los Angeles where they met up with Stephan Stills. Neil Young and Stephan Stills knew each other before forming Buffalo Springfield but were in different bands at the time – the two of course later went on to play together in Crosby, Stills , Nash and Young (CSNY).

Drummer Dewey Martin joined the band a week later; they then began a brief tour of California.

The group signed to Atlantic Records in 1966 and released their first single “Nowadays Clancy Can’t Even Sing”. But it was their follow up track, the landmark protest song, ‘For What It’s Worth’, which they became most known for. The song was performed on Thanksgiving night at the Whiskey a Go Go. It was recorded within the next few days and then was aired in Los Angeles on the radio station soon after.

There was a lot of infighting, drug related arrests and line-up changes for the band. Young started to appear less frequently and often left Stills to do all the lead guitar parts at concerts. In April 1968, after another drug bust, the band decided to break up. Neil Young launched a solo career later reunited with Stills, Nash and Young in 1969.

Buffalo Springfield was initiated into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1997. Neil Young was a no-show at the ceremony, however the others performed their best known track, “For What It’s Worth”.

Picture Credit: CHRIS DRUMM