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Thursday, February 12, 2009

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.

buffalo-springfield-rhino.jpgThe 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 [2000], 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 (Thanks! You'll be supporting Thrasher's Wheat).


At 2/11/2009 11:43:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Now THAT'S a tribute! Thanks Thrasher. Very cool stuff.

At 2/12/2009 02:53:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, that's a tribute! Thank you so much Thrasher. This is what I really appreciate and this is what does make TW such a wonderful fanatics site. Keep up the good work Thrasher and never loose your passion for what this site is all about. Thanks again. Because Sound Matters

At 2/12/2009 03:41:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, a very nice tribute - and BIG NEWS!



At 2/12/2009 05:15:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Keep on touring in the free world!

At 2/12/2009 09:58:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

General comment : I never really knew Buffalo Springfield that well - I came across these guys through CSN&Y's "Deja Vu". I did re-visit B.S. while listening to Neil Young's work. My comment is that it's sad for me to see people like Dewey Martin pass away. He is one of the guys who was at the front line of music development in the '60s and 70s, when I started to listen to and buy music. Delaney Bramlett (of Delaney and Bonnie, and also a very influential musician) also passed away Dec. 27th. last. Is this the way it is to be? - all the people who gave us great pleasure are now passing away, reminding us of our own mortality. This is just a comment, and I'm not as downbeat as I may seem.
(P.S. great blog - check every day - keep up the good work)

At 2/12/2009 02:00:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great tribute Thrasher.
as one of the people who criticized you for not putting something up sooner, all i can say is THANK YOU

At 2/12/2009 03:05:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sad loss..but very interesting document. great job indeed, I enjoy more and more checking this's one of those rare places on the net that are worth chcking on a daily basis!

At 2/12/2009 04:03:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

thank you for the music. r.i.p., mr. martin.

thomas puehringer, austria

At 2/12/2009 05:49:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great job thrasher. You seem to know how to please us bloggers. A fitting way to remember Dewey.

NEIL IN NEW ORLEANS AT THE JAZZ AND HERITAGE FESTIVAL!!!! Great news I'm only a couple of hours away. Finally Neil heads south into my country

At 2/12/2009 06:30:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

RIP DEWEY MARTIN.... The Buffalo Springfield were a great group....I love all the albums if only for the great tunes and as a historical document of what was to come from Neil, Stephen and CSNY. Their influence can not be under-scored as they were pop/rock country-rock/ folk/ folk-rock/ blues and blue grass before the Basement tapes (or around the same time) which were so considered cutting edge at the time...both of which helped wipe out the over blown psych rock albums and so many others from CA tried to be them. GOD....bluebird, clancy, kind woman...all great... too band there was no true official reunion

At 2/12/2009 08:21:00 PM, Blogger Zak Claxton said...

REALLY nice tribute, Thrasher. Ultimately, Neil, Stephen and Richie said it best: the guy was a hell of a drummer. His feel was perfect for Buffalo Springfield.

Rest in peace, Dewey.

At 2/12/2009 09:26:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You did Dewey right!

Thanks Thrasher.

A no BS BS fan

At 2/12/2009 10:15:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry to be slightly off topic here but watching those videos makes me once again appreciate Neil, and his creative longevity, in a deeper way ... the videos gave me a heightened sense of how talented Stills was ... and how unfortunate it is that, in my opinion, his great talents only manifested themselves for a short time. Neil, in contrast, just never stopped producing and creating and here we are 40 years later and he's on top of his game and 'driving' his art forward ... he could have fizzled out like so many others yet he didn't ... We as fans should savor this time when he's as prolific and vibrant as ever ... and appreciate how he's managed to be so great for so long, a rare and amazing feat virtually unmatched by almost any other artist of his era.

At 2/13/2009 10:43:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Without Buffalo Springfield, there will be no CSN, CSNY, Poco, Eagles and America etc.

At 2/13/2009 12:53:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

you say that like it's a bad thing.

At 2/13/2009 03:06:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great tribute Thrasher.Dewey was one of the Good Ones.

The Mugwump

At 2/14/2009 10:45:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

why didnt Neil attend the Bufflao Springfield HOF ceremony ?

At 2/15/2009 02:26:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can I phone a friend..or ask the audience?

At 2/16/2009 06:37:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks Thrasher, for the great career retrospective and tribute to our friend Dewey Martin.
We have some video clips of Buffalo Springfield Revisited featuring Bruce and Dewey posted here

more soon.

frank & friends

At 6/20/2009 05:29:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi, I met Dewey, Sir Ral, playing at the Spanish Castle Midway, WA back in the sixties. He and the band were nice, sweet and very fun guys to be around.
Then years later, 2007, I met and visited with Stephen Still's band in Seattle, WA and heard Stephen and the guys Rock on. What fun to see and meet these guys and the bands that came through it all.
Love, Peace and Joy-Rock On DE.


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