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Monday, September 14, 2020

Drummer Joe Vitale on His 50-Year Saga w/ Crosby, Stills, and Nash, Buffalo Springfield, & Stills-Young Band | Rolling Stone

Stephen Stills and Neil Young Band
Jerry Aiello, keyboards, Joe Lala, percussion, George "Chocolate" Perry, bass, & Joe Vitale, drums 
Philadelphia Spectrum - June 29, 1976
via "My Spectrum Memories in Photos and Words"
© ROGER BARONE 1976

Rolling Stone interview series Unknown Legends features long-form conversations between senior writer Andy Greene and veteran musicians who have toured and recorded alongside icons for years, if not decades. All are renowned in the business, but some are less well known to the general public. Here, these artists tell their complete stories, giving an up close look at life on music’s A list. This edition features drummer and songwriter Joe Vitale.

From interview with Joe Vitale: Drummer With CSNY, Eagles, John Lennon by Andy Greene  | Rolling Stone.

Rolling Stone's Andy Greene: How did you wind up in the world of Crosby, Stills, and Nash?


Joe Vitale: Well, I met Stephen Stills in 1973. He lived in Colorado and he came up to Caribou Ranch where we were finishing the song “Rocky Mountain Way.” Stephen came to the studio because he lived in Colorado. He knew Joe, but I had never met him. He came to visit Joe and wanted to sit and listen. He heard what I was doing and he talked to me afterwards and said he really liked what I was doing. He said, “Someday, let’s play together.” I said, “Man, are you kidding? You’re Stephen Stills. Anytime.”

This was 1973. In 1976, just three years later, he called me and said he wanted me to help him with a solo album that was called Illegal Stills. It’s really a cool record. After that record he called me and was like, “Let’s go down to Miami and start on a new record.” I said, “Great.” I’m on the plane and I think I’m going to play on a Stephen Stills record. When I show up in the studio, there’s Crosby and Nash. I’m like, “Holy crap. What’s going on here?” And then Neil Young shows up and it was a Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young record.

A very short-lived one.
Right. We started recording and it was going well. But what happened was Crosby and Nash just finished a duet album, Whistling Down the Wire. They had written all these songs and you give your best songs to an album. It’s not like they were out of songs, but they were kind of like, “Man, we’re spent on material. We just made a record.”

We started recording with the four, but then Crosby and Nash bailed because they were getting ready to go on the road to promote their duet album. So Neil Young goes, “Hell, let’s do the Stills-Young album.” They had never done that combination. It was really cool. All I could think was, “This will be cool since it’ll have some Buffalo Springfield flavor to it.”

We ended up doing the Stills-Young album, which had a hit on it, “Long May You Run.” But it was a bummer because I’m making a record with CSNY and then all of a sudden now it’s SY. Still, that’s not a bad thing. It ended up really good. We had a great time.

I love watching Neil and Stephen play guitar together. They really bring out the best in each other.
It’s incredible. That happens a lot in rock & roll. You get two guitar players that play off of each other. Hell, like Joe Walsh and Don Felder. Those two guys, boy did they complement each other. They have two completely different styles, but they melded into one.

That band was fun and we sold out every show in a half hour. Unfortunately, Neil bailed after four weeks. [Laughs] He had obligations with Crazy Horse. They were going to make a record and tour and they were under contract. Hey, it’s only rock & roll, but we love it. [Laughs]

What’s your memory of learning that Neil bailed on the tour?
Oh, that’s documented. I still have my telegram. We had finished a show in South Carolina. We sold it out, a big arena. We got on the plane and flew to Atlanta, Georgia. We got to the hotel. Remember, this is 1976. They were using telegrams in 1976. When we got there, we got our room key, our room list and a telegram. We were like, “What?” I’d never received a telegram in my life.

It said, “Funny how things that start spontaneously end the same way. Oh well. Each a peach, love Neil.” It said “eat a peach” because we were in Atlanta, Georgia, the peach state. Everyone’s telegram read the same. I still have mine.

Was Stills livid? You had all those shows to play.
There was a whole summer of shows to play! Stephen was pissed. But that’s his brother. They love each other like brothers. But he was still pissed. “Why didn’t he tell us he had Crazy Horse stuff?!” We had to deal with the promoters and the lawsuits. I’m glad I was a sideman!

That tour you did with them was pretty amazing. They’d never gone out and done a proper tour as a trio. Everything before was in groups of two or with Neil.
That’s right. But the group was CSN. They always said CSN and sometimes Y. The 1977 tour was so incredible. I get goosebumps thinking about it. Those guys were so good. The vocals were outstanding. The music was outstanding. And remember, once in a while we’d do the song “Ohio.” Joe Walsh and I were at Kent State when all the tragedy went down. We were there. All of a sudden, I’m playing “Ohio” with these guys. It was bizarre. It was weird. It was exciting at the same time.


The Buffalo Springfield, v. 2010
Joe Vitale, Stephen Stills, Richie Furay, Neil Young and Rick Rosas

Photo by Eleanor Stills (via Rick Rosas | Facebook)
on "Revisiting The Significance of The Buffalo Springfield Reunion"

 

How did you first hear about the Buffalo Springfield reunion of 2010 for the Bridge School?
I used to ride on Stephen’s tour bus and he was on the phone with Neil one night. I couldn’t hear the conversation. But he got off the phone and said, “Hey, we might think of doing an acoustic version of Buffalo Springfield for Neil Young’s Bridge School concert.”

I went, “Wow, that’s so cool.” But he said acoustic. That doesn’t include a drummer or a bass player. I went, “That’s so great, Stills. That’ll be so fantastic.”

That’s all we talked about it and six months went by. Weeks before the show, Stills calls me and he goes, “Hey, listen. We might have a bass player and a drummer. You’d play brushes and the bass player will play acoustic bass.” Remember, Neil insisted that the Bridge concert be all acoustic. That’s the way he’s done it all these years.

I said, “Just tell me the songs I have to learn and I’m on it.” It was so excited. We had a little two-day rehearsal. We only played about 40 minutes. I was blown away how fun that was. To hear those guys do those songs after all those years, and I’m in the band! It was so fun. Keep in mind, it was acoustic, so everything was kind of soft.

How was the show?
I was nervous. We were on last. The crowd went nuts when we went on. Elton John and all these other big-timers were at the show and they were all standing on the side of the stage. The audience couldn’t see it, but both sides of the stage were jam-packed with all these big stars. They wanted to see the Buffalo Springfield also.

It went really well. It went so well that we all got calls from Neil. He went, “Hey, listen. I had a good time.” I said, “Tell me about it, Neil. It was a fabulous time, man. You guys were so good. Seeing the three of you guys on the same stage was incredible. A monumental night.” He said, “Listen, let’s do this.” I went. “Are you kidding?” He went, “Let’s do this for real. I mean electric guitars, rock & roll, big time.”

We were supposed to go out in January [2011] and then it became February and then it became March. All of a sudden, we got the final word that we were going to go out in June. We did seven shows. We did two in Oakland, two in Santa Barbara, two in L.A., and then we did Bonnaroo. We were headlining Bonnaroo in front of about 200,000 people.

That was June. Then Neil had some stuff he had to do on his own. But they had booked 30 shows for the fall. We’re excited. I hate taking a summer off since I have to work, but I was looking forward to it because those seven shows were unbelievable. Looking forward to 30 dates in the fall, I could wait until then.

I don’t know what happened to this day, but it fell apart. Neil bailed again. He went off to do other stuff. He’s a free spirit. [Laughs]

I was at the Bridge School. When you walked onstage and went into “On the Way Home” and we heard the sound of Richie, Neil, and Stephen locking voices after all these years, it was truly one of the best concert moments of my life.
Yeah. I’m back there playing like, “I can’t believe what I’m hearing.” Back in 1968, everyone was listening to the Buffalo Springfield. They were huge. I even played in a local band that played a bunch of Buffalo Springfield songs. I was playing the songs with the real guys. It was quite amazing. Looking forward to that tour was … I can’t tell you how amazing it was. And I can’t tell you how horrible it was when it fell apart. [Laughs]

Are you hopeful that CSN might reunite in the future?
I hope so. There’s no reason not to mend fences. That’s crazy at our age and with their history. They are three individuals and they’re all different, but through music they found a common thread. There’s no reason to break that thread. They can iron out anything.

They accomplished something that dwarfs anything else they might do. For them to be able to mend fences, I hope they do. Whether or not I’m involved with it doesn’t matter. I hope they get back together because they aren’t getting any younger. There’s no reason at our age to hold any grudges. They’ve been through lot. They’re ironed out stuff before. I hope they do.

  

Rick Rosas, Ivan Neville, Joe Vitale
Photo by John Nunu Zomot | Facebook - Bonnaroo 2011 (60)

Full interview with Joe Vitale: Drummer With CSNY, Eagles, John Lennon by Andy Greene  | Rolling Stone.


Labels: , , , ,


1 Comments:

At 9/20/2020 10:37:00 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

Will Archives II be released on Blu-Ray? I haven't seen any video content mentioned, doesn't NY want his fans t have the best in quality ad how they like it? I have been a fan as long as I can remember (70s) and I want it on Blu-Ray with the bonus video which was included on Archives I (12 or so years ago....). How about it? Do you have any info on a physical releasee like Vol. I?

Thanks,

michael1984

 

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