Buffalo Springfield's Dewey Martin: 1940 - 2009
Dewey Martin, drummer for Buffalo Springfield, was found dead on Feb. 1 in his apartment in Van Nuys, Calif. He was 68 and died from natural causes.
Stephen Stills, Neil Young and Richie Furay issued this statement:
"Dewey wasn't intimidated by any of us; he was the older guy in the group and helped glue the band together," said the statement issued Sunday and signed by all three musicians. "He had that strength. The rest of us were all still babies, and just starting out in a band. We had a lot to figure out. But Dewey had been around, playing on sessions and working with a lot of great singers. Plus he was one hell of a drummer."
"It's a great loss," said Micky Dolenz, drummer for the Monkees, who Dewey often worked with. "He was a great drummer ... And he was a really nice guy."
For What It's Worth / Mr. Soul at the Hollywood Palace in 1967
Neil Young, was highly impressed by Martin during his audition in 1966 for Buffalo Springfield. From Neil Young's biography Shakey by Jimmy McDonough:
“He was a sensitive drummer. You get harder, he hits harder. You pull back, he hits back. He can feel the music — you don’t have to tell him.” After his successful audition, Martin asked the group what their name was. “They went over and pulled out this sign, Buffalo Springfield,” Martin later recalled. “I said, ‘Great man, a steamroller. You got a heavy sound. Let’s go for it.’ ”
Dewey Martin was born Walter Milton Dewayne Midkiff on Sept. 30, 1940, in Chesterville, Canada and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, with the Buffalo Springfield in 1997.
The last member to join Buffalo Springfield, Martin had his own band Sir Walter Raleigh and the Coupons, regionally popular in the Pacific Northwest. After that band broke up, he joined the Dillards, but was fired when he picked for Buffalo Springfield. Martin was the oldest member of the band and had performed with Roy Orbinson, Patsy Cline, Everly Brothers and Carl Perkins.
As Neil Young recalled to Cameron Crowe in Rolling Stone of the band's legendary formation in 1967 on the Sunset Strip in Los Angeles, California:
"Stephen Stills had met me before and remembered I had a hearse. As soon as he saw the Ontario plates, he knew it was me. So they stopped us. I was happy to see fucking anybody I knew! And it seemed very logical to us that we form a band. We picked up Dewey Martin for the drums, which was my idea, four or five days later."
Martin was selected by Young in preference of Stills's choice of drummer. From an interview with Neil Young:
"The real core of the group was the three Canadians - me, Bruce Palmer and Dewey Martin. We played in such a way that the three of us were basically huddled together behind whilst Stills and Furay were always out front. 'Cos we'd get so into the groove of the thing, that's all we really cared about. But when we got into the studio the groove just wasn't the same. And we couldn't figure out why. This was the major frustration for me as a young musician, it fucked me up so much. Buffalo Springfield should have recorded live from the very beginning. All the records were great failures as far as I`m concerned.'"
Despite existing for just two years -- the notoriously volatile band folded in 1968 after just three albums -- the seminal Buffalo Springfield are considered one of the most influential groups of their era with their unique melange of melodic folk rock, trippy psychedelia and hip country sound.
Rock'n Roll Woman at Live Popendipity in 1967 - Flip Wilson Show
Along with the Byrds, the group helped establish the folk-rock and country-rock movements that gave birth to Poco, the Eagles and Jackson Browne. From the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame "Program Book" 1997 by Michael Hill :
Buffalo Springfield begat CSN, Poco, Loggins and Messina, Crazy Horse, CSNY; inspired the Eagles and the early-Seventies Southern California scene; and, if you look at the roots of bands ranging from Sonic Youth to Son Volt, at least a part of them will stretch back to Buffalo Springfield."
Buffalo Springfield Family Tree
On the song “Buffalo Springfield Again”, from his Silver & Gold album , Young sang of how he’d “Like to see those guys again/And give it another shot.” The song was written just after Young had refused to appear at the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame induction of Buffalo Springfield. Later, Dewey Martin remarked on Young's absence that he'd much rather have it that Neil would sing with them rather than about them.
Buffalo Springfield - For What It's Worth (Monterey 1967)
Martin later tried to capitalize on his connection to his more famous bandmates when he toured with groups called Buffalo Springfield Revisited and Buffalo Springfield Again in the 1980s and ’90s.
While various members of the group moved on to join other bands, Dewey formed the New Buffalo Springfield in September 1968. The new band toured extensively and appeared at the highly publicized 'Holiday Rock Festival' in San Francisco on December 25-26, 1968. Former bandmates Young and Stills later sued him for use of the name, forcing him to change it to the Blue Mountain Eagle (some accounts cite the name New Buffalo).
For What It's Worth
Sadly, Martin turned to work as an auto mechanic, but later formed Buffalo Springfield Revisited in 1986 with bassist Bruce Palmer. A full band reunion was attempted and resulted in filmed rehearsals which includes ultra rare footage showing Dewey working under a car.
Buffalo Springfield - For What It's Worth - Smother Bros show 1967
From Goldmine - RIP: Buffalo Springfield's Dewey Martin by Kirk Silsbee:
"Rhythm guitarist and singer Richie Furay comments from his home in Boulder, Colorado: “As a drummer, Dewey could adapt to anything we might want to play: the country, the rock and the Memphis-style soul. He had great time and a great sense of what fit.”"
“Chris Hillman of The Byrds brought Dewey to us,” relates Furay. “He had been playing with The Dillards, but they had decided to go to a more traditional lineup, without drums. Chris knew we needed a drummer and suggested Dewey.”
“Dewey made it clear,” Furay states, “that he didn’t want to just play drums. He wanted to sing, too.” Martin’s unrestrained soul shouting on the Wilson Pickett-inspired “Good Time Boy” gave the Springfield yet another facet to its multi-dimensional profile.
Lisa Lenes, a personal friend for Martin’s last years, said that physical problems hampered Martin’s ability to play in his later years, but he did something about it. “Dewey developed an arthritic condition that kept him for playing,” Lisa reveals, “so he patented a drum head to help drummers with the same problem.” Lisa Lenes recalls her friend with fondness: “He was a very kind, simple, humble man. He loved the music, but he didn’t seem to dwell on his past. But when Martin Lewis had the Monterey Pop celebration at the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood for his ‘Mods ‘n Rockers’ series a couple of years ago, Dewey was happy to attend and participate.”
“Dewey didn’t say much about the Springfield,” Lisa confides, “but once he told me, ‘We were just young guys who all this success happened to. We knew it was good, but we didn’t know it would get so big.’”
Furay concludes: “Dewey was more professional than we were, as far as being able to handle all of the road bumps we ran into. When Bruce had his trials, and Neil wavered in and out of the group, Dewey was steadfast. He just had this positive attitude on life, and I loved that.”
The impact of Buffalo Springfield's brief but highly influential career still resonates today. RIP Dewey.
More on The Buffalo Springfield and Neil Young.
Also, see Bruce Palmer: 1946 - 2004.
Also, see Buffalo Springfield albums and books on Amazon.com (Thanks! You'll be supporting Thrasher's Wheat).