1966 was an exciting year for rock music. New acts like Cream and The Mothers of Invention issued debut albums. The Beatles released Revolver while Bob Dylan unleashed the double-LP, Blonde on Blonde. Into this sea of creativity emerged an unknown band by the name of Buffalo Springfield.
Exactly who was this new group that had taken over the airwaves with the hit song, “For What’s It’s Worth?” Curious record buyers needed only to peruse the rear sleeve.
A short bio of each musician is printed beneath a group photo. Listeners are introduced to the new band through simple words and phrases. Presumably chosen by each member, we get a vision of five distinct personalities.
Up first is Dewey Martin. As the drummer, he is the “heartbeat of the group.” Originally from “Ottawa,” this Canadian has become indoctrinated into American culture with his fondness for that great American pastime, “baseball.” He is both“generous” and “sincere.”
Of particular interest is the adjective “diplomatic.” No one could possibly know in 1966, but Buffalo Springfield was a mix of strong personalities that would ultimately tear the band apart. Perhaps Martin was the glue that held them all together. It’s likely that Martin’s experience in bands like The Standells left him with the wisdom to serve as unofficial diplomat.
Steve Stills is listed as “2nd lead guitar.” “Youthful – sometimes childlike, funloving,” and “energetic,” we learn about the inner dynamics of the group from Steve’s profile. Describing his role through the words of an anonymous band mate, we discover that “Steve is the leader, but we all are.” His identification with “New Orleans” also separates him from the three Canadians of the group.
Dead center of the photo stands Richie Furay. Richie paints an image of “summer breezes” in small town Ohio. Always “a true friend,” his “easygoing” nature finds adventure in simple pleasures like “miniature golf.” As rhythm guitarist, being “open and alert” serves him well as he holds the groove together.
Neil Young flaunts his Canadian roots by name-dropping “Winnipeg.” “Deep and dark” with a “wild sense of humor,” Young’s affinity for “hearses” was responsible for bringing Buffalo Springfield together.
Neil Young and Bruce Palmer had sought out Stephen Stills for a jam session. Unsuccessful, the two were leaving town in Young’s hearse. In a strange twist of fate, Stills and Furay were stuck in traffic when they saw the distinctive vehicle in the opposite lane. Sensing that Young was behind the wheel, they honked their horn to get the attention of the passing musicians. Buffalo Springfield was born out of this chance encounter.
Young’s short bio reveals much about his personality. Neil soon became notorious for abandoning projects without warning. “Hot and cold,” Young was in tune with inspiration and never thought twice about skipping town to chase his muse. In a word, Neil Young was to remain “free.”
Bruce Palmer paints himself as a “mysterious” and “deep” practitioner of “zen.” Wearing “beaded moccasins,” Palmer represents “the unknown factor” within the group. One is not to worry. Despite his strange ways, Bruce Palmer is “wise, safe, strong,” and “inscrutible.”
Buffalo Springfield was a short-lived group. Individual members would go on to greater fame in future projects. Yet, in 1966, they were largely unknown to the music world. The sleeve to Buffalo Springfield remains a link to the formative years of both the band and rock and roll itself.