By ROB NAGY
For 21st Century Media
The 1960s were arguably the most fertile and profound period in the history of modern rock ’n’ roll. Numerous iconic recording artists, beginning with the Beatles, routinely took music to unimaginable heights, leaving a lasting impression both creatively and sociologically.
One of the decade’s most poignant and talented bands was Buffalo Springfield. Formed by Richie Furay, Stephen Stills, Neil Young, Bruce Palmer and Dewey Martin in 1966, the band released some of the decade’s most memorable albums, including “Buffalo Springfield” (1966), “Buffalo Springfield Again” (1967) and “Last Time Around” (1968).
Despite enjoying considerable critical and commercial success, Buffalo Springfield’s three-year run ended all too quickly. Happily for their fans, the band members each ventured forth in pursuit of various musical interests, largely to great success.
“I think it was a natural course of events,” recalls Furay. “I never planned anything. When I left college, little did I know I was going to get into this little folk group back in New York with Stephen Stills and later on we would start Buffalo Springfield. I just let it go a day at a time. Looking back on it, we were so focused as a group. It was all about making music and having rock and roll be our life, basically.”
Following his days with Buffalo Springfield, Furay cofounded the band “Poco” with Jim Messina (later of Loggins and Messina), Rusty Young, George Grantham and Randy Meisner (later of the Eagles). While Poco never attained the stature of Buffalo Springfield, they enjoyed success with the release of the albums “Pickin’ Up The Pieces” (1969), “Poco” (1970),“Deliverin’” (1971), “From The Inside” (1971), “A Good Feelin’ To Know” (1972) and “Crazy Eyes” (1973).
Years later, with his personal and professional life in chaos, Furay reached a critical point in his life.
“My life was nuts,” recalls Furay. “I was watching all my friends — Neil Young, Stephen Stills, Jim Messina and Randy Meisner — going onto huge success and I just got to thinking, ‘What about me? I’m just as talented as these guys. What’s going on here?’ I was so blinded and so jaded. I just wanted to be a rock ’n’ roll star. Little did I know that my life was just falling apart. I came to accept the Lord in 1974. The Lord really put things in order in my life.”
Forming “The Richie Furay Band,” Furay released his debut album “I’ve Got A Reason” in 1976, thereby establishing himself as a pioneer in the field of Christian Rock. In time, moderate recording success and the pressures of life on the road found Furay again questioning his purpose in life.
“I remember thinking,” recalls Furay, “after three solo albums not really going any place, I threw up my hands and said, ‘Lord what do you want me to do?’ I really thought he wanted me to put together the rock ’n’ roll band for God, and so I was on a mission. The next thing I knew, we started a whole fellowship Bible study.”
After walking away from music all together in favor of pursuing the Christian faith, Furay became a senior pastor at the Calvary Chapel in Broomfield, Colo. in 1983.
“It has been quite a ride to say the least,” said Furay. “Believe me when I tell you that becoming a pastor was the furthest thing from my mind.”
After years away from life as a musician, Furay returned to music in 2005 on a part-time basis. He found success in performing as a solo artist opening up for America and Linda Ronstadt in 2006 as well as sporadic dates with his old friends, Poco.
“I thought music was over for me, and here music is resurfacing in my life,” said Furay. “I never thought after all these years I would be playing again. Ego doesn’t matter. I’m just another guy who happens to have had an incredible life. I’ve certainly played in two of the most phenomenal rock and roll bands ever, and I’ve had a chance to know the Lord.”
“When Stephen, Neil and I got together a couple of years ago and played the reunion,” recalls Furay, “we had a great time, and it was fun seeing each other. I think for all of us to know that just, ‘Hey, we can still do this.’ We hadn’t played together in 40 years. To be able to recreate the music, it was effortless. It wasn’t work. We just sat together and played, and all the songs just rolled out. I think the crowds that saw us would probably say the same thing. It was fun to look back and do what we did, but let’s look forward.”
Furay has completed the recording of what he hopes is his next album release, his first studio recording since “The Heartbeat of Love” (2006).
“I have a new album project that I’ve been working on for almost two years now,” said Furay. “I’m really happy with the album. It’s called “Hand In Hand.” I wrote the title song for Nancy, my wife. We’ve been married for 47 years. We’re still going strong hand in hand after all these years. The song tells that kind of a story. No one could be as blessed as I have been,” added Furay. “It’s been a great ride.”
IF YOU GO
WHAT: Richie Furay
WHERE: Sellersville Theatre, 24 W. Temple Ave., Sellersville.
WHEN: Sunday, May 18 at 7:30 p.m.
INFO.: Call (215) 257-5808 or visit www.st94.com.