Monday, 5 January 2015

Buffalo Springfield: Surviving TV Appearances 1967-2010





The Alan's Album Archives Youtube Player is now up and running - the Buffalo Springfield playlist can be found at https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLlzWxNlf9POTz76yWHQ-_6JpcO1Pyyolf

Hello and welcome to the fourth in a planned series of discussions of all the surviving TV footage we can find of each and every AAA band As you'd perhaps expect from a band who never got around to making that much music, there aren't as many TV appearances that have survived the test of time for The Buffalo Springfield as fans might have hoped. As a result this regular entry in our series of books is a little on the short side, with the few surviving TV clips we do have generally including the band's only bona fide hit 'For What It's Worth' and almost all everything dating to the busy year of 1967. Note too that we've restricted this article to appearances made under the group name - Stills and Young fans will have a lot more to read in our forthcoming books! The fact that the band split before 'music videos' came along for every band rather than a chosen few also means that we have to rely solely on TV appearances with dopey comedians and variety half hours for our list, with many important TV appearances sadly seemingly lost forever (unless someone reading this has a very healthy basement packed with unseen tv clips from the 1960s - worth a try!) As ever, we've tried to assemble as complete a list as human endeavour and the internet can provide -  we welcome additions and corrections for future possible future additions. Sadly there's only one semi-official Buffalo Springfield DVD and that features the 'reunion' band of Dewey Martin and Bruce Palmer from the 1980s rather than any of the bigger names (you can see our review for this purchase in our rather lonely 'DVDs' column).  

Alas that means that there is currently no one place where you can see all of this Springfield footage, although it's worth pointing out that two official releases credited to Stills and Young's later bands contain three separate clips of the Springfield in action: the CSN documentary Long Time Comin' features an interesting compilation of two separate performances of 'For What It's Worth' detailed below as an example of what Stills was up to before the trio formed, while Neil Young's sadly long out of print directorial debut 'Journey Through The Past' features the Smother Brothers 'For What IT's Worth' alongside clips of 'Mr Soul' and 'Rock and Roll Woman' (all sadly edited). The box set of the 'Monterey Pop Festival' from 1967 (now sadly rather rare and pricey and well overdue for a re-release) is another official place to find material, although sadly the Springfield clip itself lasts only four minutes. Sadly for now we'll have to make do with youtube, where most of the clips on this list are currently available - we won't take you to individual links (as videos get taken down and re-loaded all the time) but as ever we'll try and keep as complete a collection of clips as we can in the 'Buffalo Springfield' folder of our Youtube page (https://www.youtube.com/user/AlansArchives)

1) For What It's Worth (Where The Action Is, January 1966)

The Springfield's premier TV appearance came on  'Where The Action Is', a popular 'musical variety' show that aired between 1965 and 1967 and a spin=-off from 'American Bandstand' (another future home of the Springfield)> The band were particularly pleased to make this show (thought to be recorded in between Christmas 1966 and new year 1967, with broadcast sometime in mid January 1967) because Dewey's hero Otis Redding was also making a rare appearance (eerily almost a year to the day before his fatal plane crash). A nice mimed performance, the band's only surviving one to feature Bruce on bass. The band seem rather nervous, especially an anxious Stills (oddly shifted to the back) trying to remember all his words. Both Stills and Furay look in a rather serious mood (although Stills grins his head off by the end), while Young and Martin - oddly shifted to the front of the stage - try their best to send everything up. Neil, dressed in full fringe jacket, waves his arms in the air to get the cameraman's attention  before Dewey starts fooling round with his drumsticks, holding them in his mouth so that he can 'clap' along to the song, before promptly sticking them in Neil's so that he can do the same.  The result is a 'silly' take on a 'serious' song that reveals the band in largely playful mood - the rest of this list gets a lot more serious!

2) Band Interview (American Bandstand, January 1967)

Recorded at much the same time, sadly the only clip of this show I've ever seen is evergreen TV presenter Dick Clark interviewing the band. Neil's comment on how the band formed in that traffic jam is hilarious - especially for the presumably millions of America who'd never heard of this band at the time, making only their second TV appearance - and bears repeating in full: 'The group came together in my hearse to, you know, make stars of ourselves. So we were just about to leave and I saw him [Stills] in the van going the other way on Sunset [Strip] and he stopped and we stopped and we all stopped - and then we started!' Presumably the band also play something (probably 'For What It's Worth') but if that clip exists I've never seen it.

3) Interview: Greene and Stone (Where The Action Is, February 1967)

Charlie Greene and Brian Stone don't often talk, so this rare five minute conversation of the pair of 27-year-olds is particularly interesting. The interviewer's comments that 'every hit record these days' have been produced by the pair is clearly an exaggeration, although you sense that their comments about working '19, 20' hours a day is pretty close to the truth. The pair admit that they are 'firm friends' and have known each other for 'over 20 years', but that until becoming managers they were 'abject failures'. Sweetly, given what will happen within the year,  Stone says that they aren't fussed by how long fame lasts, that they'll 'just do what we always did and start up all over again'. The pair are particularly moved to talk about the 'youth movement', that 'lids are becoming a major part of the population and what they want is what the world is gonna have to do'. Alas the pair of managers are a bit out there, as they are when they mention Bob Lindt as being a 'big star of the future'. However the interviewer is spot on with his next comments, that 'sensational new band Buffalo Springfield are going to be huge stars', albeit only for one record, adding ominously 'Greene and Stone think they'll be giant stars - but it's up to you to make them such!' A great clip of the band 'recording' (ie messing around!) 'We'll See' (a Stills song recorded for the first album but left off it and unreleased until the Buffalo Springfield box set of 2000). Stills wears the cowboy hat this time and there are some nice un-0synchronised clips of him and Richie recording their vocals, although sadly the band don't get a chance to speak for themselves. A very nice clip, though.

4) For What It's Worth (Smothers Brothers, February 1967)

Stills keeps the hat for the band's most famous appearance on the most prestigious TV show they ever appeared on (although for the life of me I can't see why the unfunny Smothers Brothers - the US equivalent of the UK's Chuckle Brothers - got to be as big as they were!) Stills is much more sure of himself here and turns in a lovely live vocal despite the comedy duo doing everything they can to disrupt him (the camera suddenly cuts to one looking like a cowboy on the line 'there's a man with a gun over there', while the line '...mostly shout hooray for our side' is greeted by the other with a placard!) This version of the song is most notable for a bluesy hollered ending over the fade that's really quite effective. Much as Stephen and Richie try to steal the show, though, this one belongs to Neil who is already having a love affair with the camera despite never opening his mouth (his side-burns are at their career longest here!) Bruce is missing, substituted - I think - with manager Dickie Davis, although the camera seems careful never to give a shot of 'his' side of the stage (he's sitting on Neil's amp) and the band are mainly seen in close-up throughout until the pan out at the end.

5) For What It's Worth (Hollywood Palace, April 1967)

This other relatively common performance - it's the one seen and heard on 'Journey Through The Past' - definitely features Dickie Davis, sitting throughout with his back to the camera, something Neil in particular finds hilarious. Sadly Stills only gets about a minute of his famous song in before the band switch mid-song, although he does find time to raise his hat and the mood for now is distinctly mellow, with everyone except Stephen performing this one sitting down.

6) Mr Soul (Hollywood Palace, April 1967)

Neil suddenly lurches upright, almost pushing his partner out the way in his desperation for the microphone. Resplendent in frilled jacket, Neil is far from the camera shy recluse of 'Burned' here - he's thrilled to have the spotlight on him for probably the first time ever. This being the Springfield, however, he has no end of competition for it, including Richie huffing out his shoulders and trying to look tough, Dewey grinning his head off and a jaw-dropping duck-walk from Stills. The fiery instrumental break is particularly eventful, featuring all the band interacting with each other. Perhaps the best surviving footage of the Springfield around, this may be a mimed show but there's no doubting how much energy and effort the guys are putting into it here.

7) Monterey Pop Festival (June 1967, available on the DVD box set 'Monterey Pop')

Presumably all the Springfield's four song set was filmed and thankfully all of the audio survives safe and well (though sadly only on bootlegs). To date, though, the only footage released is of their biggest hit. The Springfield are clearly struggling, with both Neil (whose quit the band a third time) and Bruce long gone, although they have two big names in their favour. The first is Stills' old friend Peter Tork, then very much still a Monkee, who introduces the band as 'my favourite group' and announces that this is because of 'long standing friendships with individuals - plus I like their music!' The second is David Crosby, who angers the rest of The Byrds (with whom he's already given a rough and unrehearsed performance earlier in the day) by 'sitting in' with his new pal Stills' band. Ostensibly he's there to cover for Neil, although he actually plays rhythm guitar and is mainly there for harmonic (as well as emotional) support, left of stage in his then-trademark hat (not unlike the one Stills was wearing on the Smothers Brothers show). The first time that Crosby and Stills ever appeared on stage together, in front of by far the biggest crowd the Springfield ever played to, should feel like a bigger occasion somehow - in truth the band seem a little lost (audio tapes reveal they only really come alive during the fiery and unplanned medley of 'Rock and Roll Woman' and 'Bluebird', the result of Dewey Martin thinking on his feet). The night setting and badly lit stage doesn't help (filming was an afterthought - it's amazing this gig looks as good in the film and spin-off box set as it does!) Listen out for Stills' lyrical change, addressing the biggest crowd of young people ever gathered together in one place with the hippie message 'there's a man with a gun...nowhere!'

8) Bluebird ('Malibu U', July 1967)

Here is the Springfield dressed up as pop teen fodder, despite playing one of their most challenging heaviest songs (one which sadly fades after two minutes and before the coda - presumably like that on the original tape as it sounds like a 'proper' edit, not a bootlegger's one). The band are seen Beach Boys style, surrounded by very fake looking palm trees and girls in bikinis nodding their heads to and fro to the music: rather unfortunate given how fierce a lot of the switches of tempos are on this track! This version of the ever-changing Springfield line-up features Doug Hastings on guitar miming to Neil's original guitar parts. He looks distinctly unimpressed by the whole affair until noticing the dancing girls around him - the gleeful grin on Stills' face (underneath a rather daft angler's style hat)  seems far more pleased by the whole affair! Dickie Davis fills in for Bruce once again, with a hat over his face 'Stampede' style, so no one can see what he looks like (he has Bruce's cross-legged pose down to a tee though!)

9) Sit Down, I Think I Love You (Unknown, 1967)

We've gone a bit low budget for this black-and-white show, which features the oldest song on this list (Stills even gets in a plug for the mojo men's cover of it in 1966!) but which I've listed here because not only is Neil absent, his place has been taken by his old friend Ken Koblun (the rather tall chap on the right in the glasses) which dates this song to somewhere round about here in mid 1967. Koblun seems perfectly happy to be here - and the others with him - despite the fact that this must have been really awkward (he only joined the band on Neil's say so and the guitarist has just quit the band for a second time!) This performance is mimed so we still have no idea of what Koblun sounds like with the band, although he seems to have studied Bruce's original bass parts well and is actually the most convincing 'mimee' of the band to look at. Stills himself makes the song introduction, perhaps cementing his domination of the group with Neil out of the picture (the fact that the band are in what's clearly a 'country' setting and the band are dressed in cowboy hats - without an Indian jacket in sight - seems to suggest that in his mind at least this civil war is over). Stills and Furay are very at home here and the nod of 'isn't this daft?' they give each other about a minute in is delightful.

10) Rock and Roll Woman ('Popendity' November 1967)

I've got a quandary next, dear readers. You see, half my sources tell me that the mimed version of 'Rock and Roll Woman' that exists on Youtube comes courtesy of 'Popendity', a short lived music show that aired in the second half of 1967. This would certainly be the right dating for this 'Buffalo Springfield Again' song, released mere weeks before. However other sources tell me that 'Popendity' was merely a 'chat' show that interviewed bands (the 'interview' bit of which seems to have been sadly lost, although legend has it that Neil got so adamant and over-the-top about pop stars having a right to their personal lives on a second appearance that a planned third got quietly dropped!)Wherever it comes from, though, this rare clip is fantastic - the Springfield are introduced as being 'responsible for the Western sound' and look responsible for the appearance of the Western sound too, with grown hair and sideburns. Dewey has great fun miming the 'ah-ah-ah-ah-ah-ah-ah' harmonies, while Stills looks lost in his own world and keeps glancing up to his left for some reason (a camera? Or a rowdy crowd - unlike some of the others shows you get to see the audience on this TV clip and there's one heck of a lot of them, most of whom look distinctly underwhelmed!) Neil is there by the way, but unusually the camera barely looks at him and there's no bassist at all this time.

11) The Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame Induction (1997)

Here we've taken the liberty of re-printing what was first published in 'News, Views and Music Issue #176' - a special dedicated to every single AAA member's induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame:

Award presented by Tom Petty
“I am unutterably flattered and honoured to be in this company – the class of ’97 is a heck of a bunch!” Stephen Stills ended up making history when he became – to date – the only RaRHOFamer to be inducted twice in one night, with both the Springfield and CSN/Y making the 1997 list. Alas very little footage exists but what there is shows a very bouncy Stills clearly thrilled to receive the award next to a serious looking Richie Furay and Jim Messina. In keeping with the full three year history of the band, Neil Young was meant to show up, but cancelled at the last minute (‘Well Richey, looks like he did it again!’ Stills is said to have quipped). Tom Petty, formerly a Travelling Wilbury, was a surprise choice for the induction (I’ve never heard him so much as mention the Springfield in interviews) but the band managed a fine performance of ‘For What It’s Worth’ together (with Petty’s trademark guitar lines sounding rather good) so, heck, I’ll let that pass.

10) Reunion (Bridge School Benefit, 2010)

The Springfield reunion was a long time coming, interrupted by all sorts of dramas and u-turns )including one occasion in the 1980s when the others were so convinced that Neil wouldn't show that they organised to meet at his house - Neil still didn't show, 'forgetting' and playing a gig that night, much to Stills' amusement and Furay's fury!) Sadly a full reunion was no longer on the cards by 2010 (when both Bruce and Dewey had died) and Jim Messina doesn't appear to have been invited (was that falling out with Richie during the Poco days bigger than we thought? Or was he simply busy?) Thankfully the 'front line' of the band did show and for the best of reasons - the latest of several charity gigs held for the Bridge School (which raises money for handicapped children and is spearheaded by Neil's now sadly ex-wife Pegi). The band played for a full hour with Neil's then-current backing band of bassist Rick Rosas and drummer Joe Vitale filling out the sound. The largely acoustic gig was rather a good one for three people who hadn't shared a stage in forty-plus years and the trio seemed amazingly comfortable together, the competition of the old days perhaps gone. However sadly the band only ever played a handful of gigs past this one, with Neil leaving the band again soon after! Particularly poignant moments included the opening song 'On The Way Home' with the lines 'When the dream came, I held my nose with my eyes closed' and the first time ever that the rest of the band played on Neil's originally solo 'I Am A Child'! The full set list: On The Way Home, Rock and Roll Woman (with extended Stills-Young jamming ending!), A Child's Claim To Fame, Do I Have To Come Right Out And Say It?, Go And Say Goodbye, I Am A Child, Kind Woman (sung with the slower 'Poco' arrangement), Burned, For What It's Worth, Nowadays Clancy Can't Even Sing (with Neil on harmonica!), Bluebird, Mr Soul and an encore of Neil's solo song 'Rockin' In The Free World' with Stills and Furay and everyone who performed at that year's gig taking part on the chorus. A nice place to leave this list and indeed this band, as a future reunion seems unlikely. Then again, if the Springfield have taught us anything down the years, then it's to expect the unexpected...


No comments:

Post a Comment