Buffalo Springfield broke up in 1968 after a highly tumultuous two-year run. Just seven years later, Neil Young started pondering the idea of a reunion. “If everybody showed up in one place at one time with all the amps and everything, I’d love it,” he told Rolling Stone’s Cameron Crowe in 1975. “But I’d sure as hell hate to have to get it together. I’d love to play with that band again, just to see if the buzz was still there.”
It took another 11 years before the five original members of Buffalo Springfield reconvened at the home of Stephen Stills for a private rehearsal. They ran through material from Young’s new record, Landing on Water, and an early version of “Eldorado,” and they even recreated their album covers as a film crew captured the event. (The tape has yet to be released, but it does circulate in Neil Young fan circles.)
They agreed to meet up again a couple years later, but this time Young didn’t show up. Buffalo Springfield drummer Dewey Martin and bassist Bruce Palmer realized that any sort of reunion tour remained an impossible dream, so they got together with new musicians and hit the road as Buffalo Springfield Revisited. They played the old songs at clubs all over America for a few years, and one night Stephen Stills even sat in for a few songs, but the project eventually petered out.
The group was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1997, but Young didn’t show up, and yet another reunion opportunity was squandered. It seemed like a hopeless cause, but in 2000 Neil Young released a new song entitled “Buffalo Springfield Again.” “Like to see those guys again,” Young sang. “And give it a shot/Maybe now we can show the world what we got/But I’d just like to play for the fun we had.”
Things move slowly in Neil Young land, and he didn’t actually pick up the phone to make this happen for another 10 years. By this point Dewey Martin and Bruce Palmer were dead, but Richie Furay and Stephen Stills were happy to reform the band for the 2010 Bridge School Benefit. Bassist Rick Rosas and drummer Joe Vitale rounded out the lineup.
The two all-acoustic charity shows marked Buffalo Springfield’s first public performances in 42 years. (Watch their entire set here.) The next year they played six electric shows in California before heading over to the main stage at Bonnaroo. Richie Furay told the press a 30-date was coming together, but Young once again pulled the plug and the group went back into hibernation.
“It’s not happening now,” Young told Rolling Stone in 2012. “I’d be on a tour of my past for the rest of fucking time, which I can’t do. I have to be able to move forward. I can’t be relegated. I did enough of it for right then, but there is this seed of something great still there. It’s worth exploring again.”
The cancelled tour didn’t sit well with Stephen Stills. “We were supposed to work for most of the summer,” he told Rolling Stone. “It left me in a lurch for three quarters and ruined my financial planning. Also, 150 people got laid off that were supposed to work on the tour . . . We didn’t go to all that trouble for seven shows.”