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Dewey Martin Revisited February 8, 2009

Posted by vsap in Blogroll, Uncategorized.
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There’s not much I can add about Dewey Martin. He passed away at age 68 on January 31. His “highlight reels” didn’t make it out of the ’60s, but they were awesome reels just the same. As drummer for Buffalo Springfield, he received his moment in the music and media sun. He went to the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame with the band in 1997. So, how was this not a successful life? It was and it wasn’t, like so many of his colleagues of that era.

People with enormous potential (and flashes of brilliance that reveal some of it) were the norm in that time. There were the stars that flashed across the sky, like Jimi Hendrix. However, we have decades of research and newly released along with re-released material that solidify his place as a musician that even proved some of that potential. There’s Eric Clapton, who nearly fell from the face of the earth twice and came to his senses and resurrected his career…and did it one more time after the death of his young son. He remains with us and reveals a little of how he endured while others didn’t.

Dewey Martin is a bit closer to Gene Clark than either Hendrix or Clapton. For Martin and Clark, fame seemed a futile chase for the balance of their lives. The superficial investigation shows similar demons that pushed them to the edge: alcohol and drugs. Sometimes it was a mean streak and often it was ego or pride…something that wouldn’t allow them to march in line, compromise at a certain level for the sake of commercial success. Even here, Martin and Clark differ. Clark didn’t stop writing and recording. He did a stint on the “nostalgia” tour but gave it up and again, went his own way. Martin never graduated from the nostalgia tour. This, I think, proved to be the law of diminishing returns at work and it will do any of us in.

By all accounts, Martin’s Buffalo Springfield Revisited was a good act. Stephen Stills even sat in on a few of the gigs in the 80s and early 90s. But it’s like Denny Laine re-creating his role as frontman for the Moody Blues. Most people don’t know he sang the 60s hit “Go Now” . Most people remember the Moody Blues from “Nights In White Satin” and forward. Laine had nothing to do with that group.

Martin, even with excellent sidemen, was 1/5 of the Buffalo Springfield and 2/5 when Bruce Palmer joined for awhile. Palmer might have lent some legitimacy to the wise, but the wise also knew it was substantially meaningless. Think: Byrds where Michael Clarke is the only original member. And how many arenas would the Eagles fill without Don Henley and Glenn Frey? Sure, Tim Schmit and Joe Walsh are good, but they, too, would be looking at the nostalgia tour if it wasn’t for Frey and Henley.

The most casual fans can say about Martin is that he was a great drummer for Buffalo Springfield AND he had a compelling voice we didn’t get the chance to hear after “Good Time Boy”. He grappled unsuccessfully with his demons and that’s the oldest story in the book of life. Yet, it is noteworthy since now the entire rhythm section of the band is at rest.

Neil Young will only rest when he dies and even then is not likely to be at peace. Stephen Stills is probably one of the most talented guitarists I’ve ever heard but I guess the money’s been very good since he seems to have gotten fat and lazy. Richie Furay found the Lord and has been the happiest of the lot (gee, funny how that works).

But I can suspend judgement, listen to the music, and I’m back in that place:

Buffalo Springfield, again.

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