Richie Furay:
The TVD Interview

Richie Furay is a living legend. The man has played in Buffalo Springfield with Neil Young and Stephen Stills (of Crosby, Stills, & Nash), and Poco with Randy Mesiner of the Eagles. Along the way he has recorded over 20 albums, found time to be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, helped lay the foundation for several modern music genres, and toured the world many times over.

Furay is currently on tour with the Richie Furay Band (of which his daughter is also involved), and TVD was able to snag an interview with the rock icon in between shows.

Before you formed Buffalo Springfield you were part of the Au Go Go Singers. How was that experience What was Cafe Au Go Go like back then?

There was a sense of anticipation when three college boys from Ohio arrived in NYC to become “folk singers.” We were living a dream that none of us knew where it would take us. Truly not many people are able to set their sights on a dream and then “go for it.” All we wanted to do was make music and we thought we were god enough to make it. The entire experience was pretty amazing – an “off Broadway” play; a record contract with a major label; a national TV show (Rudy Valee’s “On Broadway Tonight”) and a super club tour of Texas – all in about a six month period of time. It was a whirlwind.

The Café Au Go Go was a well known club in Greenwich Village at the time and all along, being the “opening act” for whoever the headliner was just another step in enjoying what we thought was the Big Time. I can’t remember all we met during that time – of course Peter Tork was a friend of ours; the Modern Folk Quartet (Henry Diltz – famous photographer; Chip Douglas who would go on to produce many hit records were in the group.) I’m sure we crossed paths with John Sabastian. It was a fun time.

It’s an interesting story how you met Stephen Stills and Neil Young. Would you care to recount that for us?

When my group arrived in village, Stephen Stills was playing at the same little “pass the basket” folk house and it was there that we became friends. It was a guy named Ed Miller who put my group and Stephen together with some other folks in the village. After the Au Go Go Singers broke up Stephen took on a job with part of the Au Go Go’s and went to Canada. It was there Stephen met Neil. When Neil came to NYC to peddle some songs he stayed with me at my apartment.

Later, and this is what you’re probably asking, after I had traveled to California to hook up with Stephen we were driving on Sunset Boulevard one day when we spotted a old hearse with Ontario license plates—sure enough it was Neil and his friend Bruce Palmer who would become the bass player in Buffalo Springfield. We turned around and stopped in a restaurant parking lot and that was the beginning of Buffalo Springfield.

What were some of your best memories of playing with those guys?

Two things come to mind – the Hollywood Bowl, opening up for the Rolling Stones before we even had a record contract and our run at the Whiskey A Go Go in LA where we were the house band along with The Doors, Love, The Grass Roots and others. What a time to be making music—it was truly historic and we didn’t even know it—it was simply about the music.

What steps have you guys made to resolve your differences so a reunion could be possible?

I’m not sure what you’re talking about. I think the “differences” people want to talk about are highly exaggerated. Like any rock and roll band, creative people are going to have differences to work through. What may have seemed (from the outside looking in) as though we just couldn’t get along isn’t the case from my perspective.

We were young, trying to find our way and it took 42 years for us to find our way back, but we did. It was very easy, there were no agendas, except let’s just see what happens. What happened was maturity and the music we made just came alive after 42 years – it sounded better than ever and was fun for us all.

Throughout your career you have been at the forefront of innovation. With Buffalo Springfield, you found a way to bring your own sound in the wake of the British invasion. With Poco you created what we basically know as the country rock genre. And as a solo artist you were a pioneer with Christian rock. What inspires you to keep trying new things?

Keeping everything fresh. Although people might like to put me in a “bag” so to speak— anyone who has listened to my music sees right away there’s a variety of styles and the challenge keeps it fresh for me.

What was some of the music you listened to growing up?

I mainly listened to the music that was popular and on the radio. I wasn’t trying to find out what such and artist was listening to see what made tick – I just listened to what I liked at the time and it included doo-wop, country, folk—it had to have a melody. That’s one thing that’s been important to me throughout my career—melody.

Any current bands you enjoy listening to?

I really don’t listen to very much music—if I do it’s country music. It’s interesting what I was trying to do years ago has now come full circle in the country music genre, maybe that’s why I’m partial to it. I’m an “old” person so, just like my parents—I don’t really understand the current music very much.

Got any fun road stories you’d care to share?

None I care to share—but believe me, making music for half a century—there are some stories.

After all these years, what motivates you to keep playing music and touring?

First of all—it’s fun and exciting to play; second—it’s good. I have been blessed that the music I’ve been a part of all my career somehow stands up after all these years. Third—having my daughter Jesse singing with me and my partner Scott’s son Aaron playing with us makes it very rewarding. We have a very unique situation in that our band is not only a “family band” but multi-generational. These two along with our drummer, Alan, there’s freshness to the music and they all keep me young at heart.

Clevelanders can check out Richie Furay at the Beachland Ballroom on Saturday, November 5th at 8pm. 

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