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Buffalo Springfield Drummer Dewey Martin Passes Away at 68

February 5, 2009 1:49 PM ET

Buffalo Springfield drummer Dewey Martin died February 1st of unknown causes. He was 68. Born Walter Milton Dwayne Midkiff, Martin cut his teeth in Nashville, playing with Patsy Cline, Roy Orbison and the Everly Brothers. He moved to L.A. in the mid-1960s and learned that a fledgling band was looking for a new drummer. The group's guitarist, Neil Young, was highly impressed by Martin during his audition in 1966. "He was a sensitive drummer," Young says in his biography Shakey. "You get harder, he hits harder. You pull back, he hits back. He can feel the music — you don't have to tell him." After his successful audition, Martin asked the group what their name was. "They went over and pulled out this sign, Buffalo Springfield," Martin later recalled. "I said, 'Great man, a steamroller. You got a heavy sound. Let's go for it.' "

During early Buffalo Springfield gigs Martin sang Wilson Pickett's "In The Midnight Hour," and on their second album he handled lead vocals on "Good Time Boy." He also sang background vocals on their biggest hit "For What It's Worth" — in addition to providing the LSD that he claimed inspired Stephen Stills to write the song.

The notoriously volatile band folded in 1968 after just three albums, but Martin attempted to solider with new members on as the New Buffalo Springfield. After a nasty legal battle with his former bandmates he changed the name to New Buffalo — but that group fizzled by the end of 1969. Martin largely fell off the musical map afterward and worked as an auto mechanic, but he resurfaced alongside former Buffalo Springfield bassist Bruce Palmer in the mid-1980s as part of Buffalo Springfield Revisited. Joined by new members, the original rhythm section played Buffalo Springfield classics on the oldies circuit before finally hanging it up in the early 1990s. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1997.

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