This Month in Music – May 5, 1968: Buffalo Springfield Play Last Concert

Buffalo Springfield’s first incarnation was but a scant two years. Despite their relatively short shelf life, the group (consisting of Stephen Stills, Neil Young, Dewey Martin, Richie Furay, and Bruce Palmer) would carve a following, as well as a legacy in rock history, that has and will continue to stand the test of time.

A chance meeting on the highway; Neil Young’s black hearse unmistakable to miss; a  group of old friends get together and talk about the past and the future – Buffalo Springfield is born. Its members were all at the beginning of their careers. The group, who featured two of rock and roll’s biggest icons, Neil Young and Stephen Stills, just finding their feet in their young careers, none more than a guy and a guitar. Neil Young spent his time backing Rick James, who was in Canada because he didn’t want to go to Vietnam and Uncle Sam replied by informing James he had no choice in the matter.

Stephen  Stills, on the other hand was in LA, where it was at but nothing and nobody were knocking on his door. The Byrds were what was hip at the time – a little bit of Dylan and a whole lot of guitar –  Stills, just another pseudo-folkster in a town where  you could swing a dead cat and hit a 100 at the least. He would be pushed by Michael Neismith to try out for a new TV show in  pre-production entitled The Monkees. Nothing became of that.

Buffalo Springfield would take up residency at the Whisky a Go Go, with the assistance of  the Byrds bassist Chris Hillman. According to Wikipedia:

Chris Hillman of the Byrds persuaded the owners of the Whisky a Go Go to give Buffalo Springfield an audition, and they essentially became the house band at the Whisky for seven weeks, from May 2 to June 18, 1966. This series of concerts solidified the band’s reputation for live performances and attracted interest from a number of record labels.”

That interest would  lead to a four record deal with Atlantic Records and immortality for the band. Harmonizing smoothly with Furay on their first single “Nowadays Clancy Can’t Even Sing,” co-founder Stills would pen one of the seminal songs of the 1960s in “For What it’s Worth.” As Wikipedia notes, the song was a strong performer on the sales chart:

“The single peaked at number seven on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. This song is currently ranked number 63 on Rolling Stones list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time as well as the eighth best song of 1967 by Acclaimed Music”

Time and nostalgic looks back have bolstered Stills’s song and the band Buffalo Springfield into music immortality, even though its first iteration played their last gig together this month in 1968.