Richie Furay

I’m the kind of fan who, when the first 5 Poco albums finally came out on CD, I stood at the rack in Borders and tears filled my eyes. Richie Furay’s music has always meant that much to me. From his days in the seminal Buffalo Springfield, through the exhilierating Poco years, into the confusion of The Souther Hillman Furay Band, on to his 70’s solo releases and his present day Christian music, Richie Furay is one of the most influencial icons in the history of rock. And none of his music was wasted on me or millions of other die hard music fans. ItsAboutMusic.com is humbled by his presence. Please share in the wealth of wonderful music given us by Richie Furay.

– Dean Sciarra – ItsAboutMusic.com

About Richie Furay – Biography by Mike Edmunds

Richie Furay started his musical career playing folk clubs as a solo artist in the 1960s, as well as with bands like the Monks and the Au Go Go Singers (which included Stephen Stills in the lineup). After meeting Neil Young they formed Buffalo Springfield with Bruce Palmer and Dewey Martin. The band cut its first album, Buffalo Springfield, in 1967; it included the single “For What It’s Worth.” Buffalo Springfield recorded two more albums — Buffalo Springfield Again and Last Time Around — before disbanding in 1968.

Furay and Jim Messina (who had replaced Palmer in the Springfield) formed a new band, Poco, with steel guitar player Rusty Young, George Grantham (ex-Boenzee Cryque), and Randy Meisner (ex-Poor). Poco recorded its first album, Pickin’ Up the Pieces, and Meisner quit soon afterward. The band continued as a quartet, building a reputation at the Troubadour. Timothy B. Schmit was added as their second album, Poco, was released. After Poco’s third album, Deliverin, Messina quit and was replaced by Paul Cotton (ex-Illinois Speed Press). Poco went on to cut albums such as From the Inside, A Good Feeling to Know, and Crazy Eyes before Furay left.

At David Geffen’s request, Furay formed the Souther Hillman Furay Band with Chris Hillman (ex-Byrds) and J.D. Souther. The band split after two unsuccessful albums in 1974 and 1975. Furay then converted to Christianity and formed The Richie Furay Band, a Christian group featuring Jay Truax, John Mehler (ex-Love Song), and Tom Stipe. After two albums — Dance a Little Light and I Still Have Dreams — the band recorded Seasons of Change for Myrrh Records, Furay’s first album for a Christian label.

Furay became a minister in Colorado and continued singing and recording. He rejoined Poco in 1990 for their comeback album, Legacy, which included the hit single “Call It Love.” In 1997, Furay recorded his fifth solo album, In My Father’s House, for the Christian Calvary Chapel label.

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About Buffalo Springfield – From the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame

Lots of bands got their start on the Sunset Strip, but none quite so literally as Buffalo Springfield. The band was thrown together on the Los Angeles boulevard in early 1966, when Stephen Stills and Richie Furay, two folk refugees from New York City, were stuck in traffic and spotted a hearse with Canadian plates that obviously wasn’t headed to a funeral .

As Neil Young recalled to Cameron Crowe in Rolling Stone: “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.” With Young was fellow Canadian folkie Bruce Palmer, who would become the band’s bassist; like Stills and Furay, the two of them were just “tooling around… taking in California. The promised land.”

Within a few days of forming, the five-piece christened itself Buffalo Springfield, taking the name from a steamroller they noticed on a West Hollywood street. They had found one another in West Hollywood, and it was there, on the Sunset Strip, that they would move into the fast lane. They quickly built their reputation on the hip local scene with their now legendary gigs at the Whiskey a Go Go and generated a mighty buzz in the freewheeling record industry of the time. Atlantic Records, still a groovy indie then, landed the band for it’s Atco label and sent it into the studio with managers Charles Greene and Brian Stone. Fans deemed the debut, Buffalo Springfield, staid in comparison to their routinely electrifying gigs; the album arrangements leaned more toward folk than rock, with an emphasis on the harmonies of Stills and Furay. But the stylistic blend was more forward-thinking than it may have seemed: The surprisingly contemporary-sounding “Go and Say Goodbye” veers well past folk into the kind of country that’s called Americana these days.

Stills dominated the album with seven out of twelve songs; in the liner notes he is referred as to as “the leader, but we all are” an unconscious hint perhaps at the uneasy alliance these strong willed talents had forged. Young composed the other five, although he left most of the lead vocal chores to Furay. Young’s “Do I Have Come Right Out and Say It,” featured a plaintive Furay vocal, is beautiful simple pop songwriting of a kind Young wasn’t known for in those days. As the owner of a hearse, he generally displayed the sort of prenatural melancholy that marked another album’s songs, “Nowadays Clancy Can’t Even Sing.”

Buffalo Springfield’s sole pop hit, “For What It’s Worth,” wasn’t even on their debut when it was first released in late ’66. The song was yet another by-product of life on the Sunset Strip, where the club scene was devolving into violent clashes between kids and cops, after long-haired patrons started being turned away from bars. “For What It’s Worth,” was Stills reaction to the escalating craziness around him, and it soon took on meaning and a life far beyond the Strip, the clubs, and the LAPD. Atco released “For What It’s Worth,” as a single and, once it took off, yanked the first track from the debut album, slapped on the hit and re-released the lp. The single went to number seven (#7), the album to number eighty (#80).

For the world at large, “For What It’s Worth,” was Buffalo Springfield. As a suburban New Jersey kid circa ’67, I went to see Buffalo Springfield, expecting one hit wonders. Until then my view of the group had been restricted to Stills, blond and dapper in a Beatlesque kind of way, backed by befringed L.A. hippies, earnestly rendering his hits on TV. That afternoon, at a college gym gig sponsored by New York City’s WMCA-AM Good Guys, the band was there to deliver the Top Ten goods. They were second-billed to the Beach Boys, who were in their Smiley Smile phase.

But the cavalcade of hits took a left turn somewhere. Buffalo Springfield did their most famous tune, and it was utterly thrilling – ominous, prescient and a great pop song, too. What I remember most, though, was the rest of the loud and hard driving set; here was the Whiskey-seasoned rock band, with Neil Young wrestling out of his guitar all those twisted sounds that would become his signature. The band obliterated the Top Forty tenor of the afternoon and left the audience’s ear’s ringing before the arrival of the loopy headliners. I was stunned, confused, inspired and I managed, as an unobtrusive almost-thirteen-year-old, to hang around after the show to collect autographs and can still recall the way Young sat in the first rows of chairs, looking off into the distance.

Buffalo Springfield Again, released later in ’67, contained some of the group’s most enduring work, including “Mr Soul” and “Bluebird.” It also featured Young’s most ambitious productions, “Expecting to Fly”and “Broken Arrow.” By then, Young was singing his own tunes. Most significantly, the band was producing it’s own sessions, an unusual setup at a time when a record company rarely left a band alone in the studio. Stills, Young, and Furay each took turns in the producer’s chair, with a little help from friends like arranger Jack Nitzsche, Atlantic honcho Ahmet Ertegun and engineer Jim Messina, who later joined the band as bassist.

By mid-’67, Young was already having clashes with the group and left for a time, missing the band’s performance at the Monterey Pop Festival, where most of rock’s ascending royalty had gathered. “I just couldn’t handle it toward the end,” Young later said. “My nerves couldn’t handle the trip ….. everything started to go too fucking fast, I can tell that now.”

While Young slipped in and out of the group at will, bassist Palmer was deported to Canada, following a series of pot-possession charges. Bassist Jim Fielder filled in, before Messina signed on for what would be the bands last months. In mid-’68, after a Topanga Canyon pot bust that resulted in misdemeanor charges for Eric Clapton along with Young, Furay and Messina, the band officially called it quits, a scant eighteen months after forming. Rolling Stone announced: The Buffalo Springfield, one of the most outstanding Los Angeles rock groups, disbanded on May 5th because of a combination of internal hassle, extreme fatigue coupled with absence of National success, and run-ins with the fuzz.

“Last Time Around”, the final Buffalo Springfield album, was pieced together by Messina and released after the breakup. Much of it feels like a prelude to Stills’ work with David Crosby and Graham Nash, and the album concludes with “Kind Woman,” a lovely Furay tune that anticipates the pastoral country rock he and Messina would create with Poco. Young was missing in action for most of these sessions, but he left the group with two of his most affecting tunes, “I Am a Child” and “On the Way Home,” which opens the album and serves as Young’s farewell: “Now I won’t be back till later on/If I do come back at all/But you know me and I miss you now.”

It’s a look at fame and friendship and how the one can keep the other apart. It’s about the moment after a band becomes the biggest buzz on pop culture’s most famous boulevard. It’s about life going on. And this is how it went on: 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, atleast a part of them will stretch back to Buffalo Springfield.

About Poco

One of the first and longest-lasting country-rock groups, Poco had its roots in the dying embers of the Buffalo Springfield: After co-founders Neil Young and Stephen Stills exited in the spring of 1968, only guitarist/singer Richie Furay and bassist Jim Messina remained to complete the group’s swan song, Last Time Around. The final Springfield track, “Kind Woman,” included only Furay and Messina, with a guest appearance on steel guitar by Rusty Young, formerly of Boenzee Cryque. He stuck with Furay and Messina, passing on a scheduled audition for a new group that Gram Parsons was putting together; auditions followed before the fledgling group reached out to Young’s ex-Boenzee Cryque bandmate George Grantham on drums and vocals and to bassist/singer Randy Meisner. This lineup rehearsed for four months before making their debut at the L.A. Troubadour in November. A month later, they made their first appearance at the Fillmore West on a bill with the Steve Miller Band and Sly & the Family Stone.

At the time, they were using the name Pogo, but that didn’t last; Walt Kelly, the creator of the comic strip Pogo, from which they’d freely admitted borrowing the name, didn’t appreciate the group’s choice and filed a lawsuit. Not wanting to lose all of the recognition and goodwill they’d built up locally over the previous five months, the result was a change of just one consonant, to Poco. Just one day after signing to Epic in early 1969, Meisner suddenly left the band, apparently over personality clashes; he later joined the Eagles. Recorded as a four-piece, Poco’s debut, Pickin’ Up the Pieces, was released in June of 1969. The group was back to being a quintet in 1970 with the addition of bassist Timothy B. Schmit, whose arrival coincided with the recording of their second album, Poco.

It wasn’t long after that Messina decided to leave, feeling that Furay had assumed too much control over the group’s sound. Before departing, he secured the services of a capable replacement member — Paul Cotton, a onetime member of the Illinois Speed Press — and also played on and produced their subsequent album, Deliverin’, which rose to number 26 and yielded the minor hit “C’mon.” Their next album, 1971’s From the Inside, was produced in Memphis by Booker T. & the M.G.’s guitarist Steve Cropper.The same lineup became the first Poco membership to last for more than one studio album; their second, A Good Feelin’ to Know, was released in 1972, but by this time, even Furay had begun to lose heart over the band’s lack of commercial success.

The band made one renewed effort, Crazy Eyes, their most accomplished studio album to date; released late in 1973, it became their most successful work. However, just as the LP was released, Furay left the group to hook up with Chris Hillman and John David Souther to form the Souther-Hillman-Furay Band. Still, Poco continued as a quartet; their next album, Seven, released in the spring of 1974, failed to replicate the success of Crazy Eyes. The group was at a critical point in their history following the release of one more Epic album, Cantamos, which appeared in the fall of 1974 and got no higher than number 76. After parting with Epic, Poco signed with ABC Records in 1975; their first album, Head Over Heels, issued in mid-1975, surpassed expectations to fall just shy of the Top 40.

After the album Rose of Cimarron, the group came close to splitting up in 1976, with new member Al Garth exiting in the middle of the year. Finally, in the spring of 1977, Indian Summer was released; four months later, Timothy Schmit exited the lineup to replace Meisner in the Eagles. Grantham followed him out of the band in January of 1978, eventually becoming Ricky Skaggs’ drummer. The group re-formed with Charlie Harrison and Steve Chapman joining Young and Cotton; Kim Bullard, a Crosby, Stills & Nash alumnus, came in on keyboards in December of that year, and Poco was once again a quintet. All of these personnel changes seemed to have done the trick, because their next album, Legend, released late in 1978, became the best-selling LP in their history, earning a gold record in the course of rising to number 14. The accompanying single, “Crazy Love,” reached number 17, far and away their biggest seller to date. It was matched by Cotton’s “Heart of the Night,” which got to number 20 during the summer of 1979.

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However, their subsequent albums — Under the Gun, Blue and Gray, and Cowboys and Englishmen — did progressively poorly; Ghost Town, issued late in 1982, peaked at an anemic number 195. Furay rejoined the group briefly in mid-1984 along with Schmit, resulting in the Inamorata album, which scarcely made any impact; a five-year hiatus followed before the original quintet re-formed in the spring of 1989. Their comeback single, “Call It Love,” hit the Top 20, accompanied by the album Legacy, which made it to number 40. Although the 1968 lineup didn’t stay together, Poco was restored as a working band, touring periodically with Cotton and Young at its core. In 2002, the band released a new album, Running Horse, through their website, www.PocoNut.com.

About The Souther Hillman Furay Band

Although short-lived, the Souther Hillman Furay Band may have been the first Country-Rock supergroup. Every member of the group, not just the front trio of J.D. Souther, Chris Hillman and Richie Furay, had paid their musical dues in the cream of West Coast Country and Country-Rock bands. J.D. (sometimes known as John David) Souther (b. November 3, 1945, Detroit, Michigan, and raised in Amarillo, Texas) started playing with Glenn Frey in Longbranch Pennywhistle, who recorded an album for Amos in 1970 and whose members included James Burton, Buddy Emmons, Ry Cooder and Doug Kershaw. He then played with Glenn as a duo and when Frey joined the Eagles, J.D. went solo. He became a prolific writer and co-wrote, Best of My Love (the Eagles, 1974) and wrote I Can Almost See it, Don’t Cry Now and The Fast One (all 1973), Faithless Love (1974) and Prisoner in Disguise and Silver Blue (both 1975) (all recorded by former girlfriend Linda Ronstadt).

J.D. became a session player appearing on albums by Kate Taylor (James Taylor’s sister) and Ronstadt. Chris Hillman (see separate entry and Desert Rose Band) had been a member of the Hillmen (with Vern & Rex Gosdin and Don Parmley), the Byrds, Flying Burrito Brothers and Stephen Stills’ Manassas.

Richie Furay (b. May 9, 1944, Yellow Springs, Ohio) was a founder member of Buffalo Springfield in 1966 and Poco in 1968. For their first self-titled album, in 1974, the trio brought in session players Al Perkins, Paul Harris, Jim Gordon and Joe Lala. Perkins had played steel on sessions for the Flying Burrito Brothers, Alex Harvey, Rita Coolidge, Country Gazette and the Eagles. He was also featured on the Rolling Stones’ Exile on Main Street. Paul Harris, also a much-in-demand sessionman, had played on sessions for artists as diverse as Richie Havens and B.B. King. Gordon had formerly played with Derek & the Dominoes and had co-written with Eric Clapton, the classic Rock number, Layla.

Joe Lala had played percussion for Joe Walsh, Dionne Warwick, and Stephen Stills among many others. The first album on Asylum was produced by Richie Podolor, who had been the guitarist on Sandy Nelson’s drum-based instrumentals in the late 50’s and early 60’s. The album yielded the Top 30 Pop hit, Fallin’ in Love. By the time of their second album in 1975, entitled Trouble in Paradise, Ron Grinel had replaced Jim Gordon. Grinel had appeared on albums by Joe Walsh and Keith Moon. In addition, Eagles members Glenn Frey and Don Henley lent a hand on backup vocals and former Beach Boy associate James Guercio played guitar.

Following this album, J.D. Souther went on to be a much-in-demand session player and singer, appearing on albums by Bonnie Raitt, the Eagles, Rita Coolidge and Karla Bonoff (among many others) and a solo career. In 1979, J.D. had a Top 10 Pop hit with You’re Only Lonely, on Columbia. The single gave him his first Country chart entry, reaching the Top 60. In 1981, J.D. teamed up with James Taylor for a Top 15 Pop hit, Her Town Too. The following year, J.D. had a duet with Linda Ronstadt, Sometimes You Just Can’t Win, which went Top 30 on the Country chart. Since then J.D.’s career seems to be treading water and he still appears on records singing back up. Chris Hillman eventually put together the Desert Rose Band, while Richie had a short-term solo career and in 1979 had a Top 40 hit with I Still Have Dreams on Asylum. In 1980, he appeared with Poco at their reunion concert.