Getting high in the hearse and other strange facts about Buffalo Springfield

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This year marks the 50th anniversary of the seminal rock band Buffalo Springfield. Though the act’s original incarnation only lasted two years, the band’s impact seems to grow every year. Here are three strange facts you probably didn’t know about the group:

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1) The Navy man who didn’t quite get away. Neil Young might not have been a part of Buffalo Springfield if it weren’t for an AWOL Navy man named Ricky James Matthews. Young was playing lead guitar for Matthews’ band, The Mynah Birds, when the Navy arrested Matthews for being AWOL. The group’s record deal got cancelled on the news, and Young packed his bags for L.A. where he fell in with Stephen Stills. Nowadays, Ricky James Matthews is better known as Rick James.

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2) The band’s name. The group took their name from a steamroller. Literally. The Buffalo-Springfield Roller Company used to make steamrollers in Springfield, Ohio (a few miles up the road from Rocknuts HQ). One happened to be parked on the street where Stills and Furay were living at the time. So they borrowed the name (and made it a hell of a lot more famous than the steamroller company ever did).

Here’s an old photo of a Buffalo Springfield steamroller:

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3) Getting high in the hearse. It was thanks to Neil Young’s hearse that Stephen Stills found the young “Bob Dylan of Canada” cruising down Sunset Boulevard. The two had met previously in Ontario, and Stills knew Young drove a hearse. So when he saw a hearse with Ontario plates in L.A., he knew exactly who it was. He chased it down, and the two teamed up to form Buffalo Springfield.

“I loved the hearse,” Neil Young says. “Six people could be getting high in the front and back and nobody would be able to see because of the curtains. The tray was dynamite. You’d open the side door and the tray whips right out onto the sidewalk. What could be cooler than that? What a way to make your entrance. Pull up to a gig and just wheel out all your stuff on a tray.”

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