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Monday, January 01, 2018

1986 Buffalo Springfield Rehearsal: Neil Young, Stephen Stills & Richie Furay

Some rather remarkably rare footage has recently been posted of the 1986 Buffalo Springfield Rehearsal Sessions with Neil Young, Stephen Stills & Richie Furay.

Songs include "Road of Plenty" and "Eldorado". The video posted on YouTube by Mindstash is described as the following:
In the summer of 1986, the original members of the Buffalo Springfield met at Stephen Stills’ home to rehearse new material that Stephen and Neil Young were working on and to make tentative plans to reunite for a 20th anniversary reunion tour. The 2 day practice session marked the first time that the five founding members had played together since their break-up in 1967. The rehearsals were kept a secret and my understanding was that management was not keen on having the sessions videotaped. However, after some deliberation, the band over ruled management and decided that they wanted to document the get together.

I’d just finished wrapping a shoot when I received a call with an anxious Bruce Palmer on the other end filling me in- Neil and Richie (Furay) were in town, the Buffalo Springfield were going to be rehearsing, could I make it over to Stephen’s with a camera and lights and be set up in an hour and a half? LMAO! (Nothing like having plenty of advance notice, guys.) As fate would have it, I was on the freeway on my way home from work, I had a camera package in the car and was only 15 minutes away from Stephen’s place. I just happened to be the right person, with the right camera, with the right contacts at the right position in spacetime to record the practice, otherwise we wouldn’t have anything to look at right now.

From what I can remember and from the comments that can be heard on the tapes, at the end of the rehearsal the band was planning on more rehearsals and moving forward w/ the reunion tour. However, the paradigm was about to shift and I saw it happen in front of my eyes.

A couple of weeks later, in wee hours of the morning, I was listening to Stephen laying down some bass tracks in his studio when David Crosby, (who had just gotten out of a Texas jail the day before) made a surprise visit and came through the door with guitar case in hand. I remember the moment as if were yesterday: David: “Hey, Stephen. Do you want to hear some open chords that I’ve been working on in my cell?” Stephen: Uhh…well, hell yeah!” They played together for about an hour and a day or two later Graham Nash showed up. Stephen’s priorities shifted to reuniting with CS&N, in large part, to help out an old friend who was down and out at the time.

A few months later, the Crosby, Still & Nash reunion tour was in full swing, Bruce Palmer and Dewey Martin were having a successful run with the Buffalo Springfield Revisited, Neil Young was on the road with the Live In A Rusted Out Garage with Crazy Horse tour, Richie Furay was back in Boulder doing his thing and I wrapped up the rehearsal tapes and put them into a box where they were to remain for the next 30 years. For what it’s worth, from what I’ve been able to dig up, this is likely the only rehearsal footage of the original Buffalo Springfield that has ever been recorded. The practice session began with a “theme" that was in Neil’s head and moved onto Stephen shredding the guitar on a new blues tune that he was in the early stage of conceptualizing. In this clip, the band is working out the nuts and bolts on a new tune of Neil’s that he would later develop into “Road of Plenty” which made its performance debut during the Crazy Horse tour in November of 1986. The song would, subsequently, evolve into its studio version, “Eldorado”, which was recorded 2 years later and released in the states on Neil's Freedom album.

If you like this, stay tuned- there will be more to come. (PS I own the rights.)
Back in 1996, the following description of the session was posted on Hyperrust by B.J.Haines:
The video opens with a close shot of Neil who was standing to Richie Furay's right. Neil is wearing a faded yellow t-shirt which has the sleeves cut off, or at least mostly cut off -- there are remants of sleeves there. The front of the t-shirt has a drawing of tropical trees and on top of that is the words St. Maarten. I'll bet he STILL has that t-shirt and if there's anything left of it, he STILL wears it!! He's wearing jeans also (natch). Ratty jeans, too. His hair is on the short side, but still over his ears, about the length it was during his Rust Never Sleeps days.

Richie is playing a blonde Gretsch. He's wearing a t-shirt as well, but there's nothing remarkable about it, except that it's in a lot better shape than Neil's.

To Richie's left is Dewey Martin seated at the drums, which themselves are a natural blonde or gold or yellow color. They might be Stephen's drums, because at the end of the video we get to see the car the Dewey drove to Stephen's house and which broke down as soon as he arrived there. I don't think it was a big enough car to get the drums into, but maybe I'm wrong. I'm not sure what kind of car it is either, but it seems like it might have been a Cadillac or Buick. Something like that. And there's the possibility that he was towing a trailer, but we don't get to see that far back. But I digress....

Dewey is shirtless and smoking a cigarette from which he inhales and exhales without removing it from his mouth, even when he's not playing. He's older now, that's for sure, but he's still thin and in fairly good shape.

Which brings me to Bruce Palmer. Bruce is seated with his bass and facing Neil and Richie. Dewey is to Bruce's right and slightly behind him. Bruce is playing a bass with a split headstock. I was told what type of bass it was while we were watching the video, but I can't recall the name. Anyway, Bruce is graying, and when you see him straight on, it appears that he has a short, conventional haircut which is parted on the side and combed to the right. When he turns his head to the side however, we see that he is sporting a ponytail, a rather long one, about mid-back. Bruce is not thin. He's put on some poundage over the years and it shows. A lot.

Bruce is wearing some baggy pants and a khaki short sleeve button down, two pocket shirt. At one point Stephen, during a group pose orchestrated by Neil, walks over to Bruce and rubs his belly and makes a comment meant to be humorous about Bruce's thick girth, and which I can't recall. I should note that Stephen has little room to talk. He's replaced the six pack with a kegger as well. Stepehen is wearing a large, black t-shirt which is not tucked in.

Back to the session. Stephen is seated facing the camera but slightly towards Neil. Stephen is wearing a red ball cap which has a Navy ship's logo and serial number on it. I think it was the U.S.S. Enterprise, but I'm not clear on that either. He's playing a black Steinberger guitar, the one with the rectangular body and headless neck. As the video opens, Neil is saying to Stephen, "Yes, that's great, I really like the way that you played that, that's great, we should do that", and tells Stephen many times that he likes what he's doing there.

Stephen plays a few chords and patterns, which Neil praises (and rightly so). It's a Neil Young song they're working on, something like Road Of Plenty, or something like that. Neil counts off, after getting Dewey and Richie's attention. They had been having a little conversation and a laugh in the meanwhile. They start up in the middle of that tune and play it well.

After about 2 minutes of jamming, they stop, and the video fades out. It then fades back in, and we see the boys standing and Neil looking at the camera and saying "we should all stand together for a group shot, this'll be good", and he kind of gathers them all together and they stand there in various poses, cracking jokes, Neil commenting on how 18 years have passed since they were all together and how special it all was and is. This is the point where Stephen goes over to Bruce and rubs his belly.

Bruce is standing to the extreme right in the group shot, Neil in the middle, Stephen behind and to Neil's right. Richie is on Stephen's left, and Dewey stands next to Richie. You get the feeling that Dewey and Richie are most friendly with each other, as if they've always been friends through the years. They like each other a lot. They all like each other, but Dewey and Richie have a little something extra there, and to tell you the truth, I find it heartwarming to see such old friends getting reaquainted and picking up where they left off. That goes for all of them.

We hear Neil comment about Dewey getting deported for drugs and a few other reminisceses. We get a better perspective of the room they're in. It looks to me like a finished basement. We see some gold and paltinum record awards hanging on the wall, although the video resolution won't allow for any details as to what records they are for. We see stereo equipment and knick knacks of varying kinds. I think I see a bar in there, not sure if that's right or not. From what I know of Stephen, I think that it probably was!! At any rate, and by any standard, it's gotta be one of the nicest basements I've ever seen. Fade to black.....

....Fading in, we are now outside in Stephen's driveway. Stephen does a hilarious mock TV reporter routine in which he is facing the camera and looking directly into it, reports to us the goings on in his driveway. And what IS going on? Well, remember earlier that Dewey's car had broken down in Stephen's driveway? Who do you think is repairing it? Dewey is!! He's on his back, under the car with his legs sticking out. The guy who has this video and was kind enough to show me is now in the picture and Stephen mock-interviews him to get the breaking news from the man on the street.

He makes a few funny comments about how the car waited to break down in Stephen's driveway. The video then does a cut and we see Dewey standing there with cigarette in mouth, and the greasiest hands and arms you ever saw. He's got grease all over his face as well. I'm thinking how strange this is to see a famous and (presumably) wealthy rock star on his back in somebody's driveway (albeit a famous and wealthy somebody) working on an old car. And why would a famous and wealthy rock star have such an old and broken down car, I wonder aloud?

I am told by my friend that in fact Dewey was not wealthy, at least not anymore, and that he was really counting on this reunion to get the cash flowing again. He really isn't too well off at all. Hasn't been working steady in years. The fact that this reunion didn't go any further than this one occasion was a big blow for Dewey. He really wanted it to happen.

I'm told also that it was soon after this all-too short reunion that Dewey formed a pseudo-Buffalo Springfield band, he and Bruce being the only original members and calling it Buffalo Springfield Revisited. They apparently did a tour or two and then broke up, leaving Dewey even deeper in the hole. I was told that Stephen even jammed with this pseudo-Springfield on a couple of occasions. That was news to me!!

But anyway, that's about it. It ends there in the driveway. My friend said that Neil had gone by that time, or maybe was in the house, but was certainly not in the driveway during the repairs or the "Stillscast" shennigans.
And who could ever forget The Significance of The Buffalo Springfield Reunion in 2011?

Buffalo Springfield - 10/23/10
Photo by Thrashette

We'll never forget The Significance of The Buffalo Springfield Reunion and feel so lucky and privileged to be present for one of the many highlights of Bridge School Benefit concerts.

Labels: ,


At 1/02/2018 05:26:00 AM, Blogger Matt B said...

Simply awesome ...

At 1/02/2018 04:39:00 PM, Blogger mantrano9 said...

Great stuff looking forward to more fascinating watching the creativity what could have been still Crosby came first rightly so .

At 1/02/2018 07:56:00 PM, Blogger Old rocker Dave said...

Absolutely magical, Neil’s dedication to his craft really shows. The reunion tour was great, but I cannot say enough about the Live In A Rusted Out Garage tour it was the shit. Great seeing all the stage entities again, The Roadeyes, The lab coat guys, large rodents and mechanical animals. Very innovative and he used them again for the Last Crazy Horse tour in 2012.

At 1/02/2018 08:05:00 PM, Blogger Jonathan said...

THIS is the kind of stuff that belongs in the Archives!!
says me.....

At 1/02/2018 09:48:00 PM, Blogger Bud said...

I remember the '86 Crazy Horse tour well. I had no idea the Springfield were working on something that summer. It is just so cool to see their creative process in action.

At 1/03/2018 10:20:00 AM, Blogger bob g said...

There's clearly somebody playing (crappy '80s-sounding) keys. Any idea who that might be? I thing they're pictured briefly a couple of times.
Also, never cared for the sound of the guitar Stills is playing as it sounds dated to me. Boy, I'm just full of positivity today.

Love the clip, though. Thanks!!


At 1/03/2018 11:31:00 AM, Blogger Alan said...

Amazing! So cool to see this session!

At 1/18/2018 08:58:00 PM, Blogger Robbo said...

Cracking stuff--deffo getting riffs from "like a hurricane" in this session mind!

At 1/25/2018 05:07:00 PM, Blogger barrooman said...

wow what could have been, remember seeing stills with america in june? and then a couple of the rusted garage shows later in the summer at the then new great woods in mass

At 9/24/2020 12:19:00 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

Richie Neil and Stephen along with Roger Chris and David should do 1 more Buffalo / Byrds reunion show broadcast for HBO. 6 historic performers doing 1 TV concert and then put these 2 classic bands to bed. Reunions can sometime be disappointing, but NOT with these experts. Good time now that Covid 19 has ruined live concerts


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