June 6th, 2008
The story of New Buffalo Springfield and Medicine Ball
|With great sadness, we report that Dewey Martin passed away on January 31st 2009.
Dewey Martin 1940-2009 R.I.P.
Dewey Martin’s post-Buffalo Springfield career has never received the attention bestowed to his fellow cohorts Steve Stills, Neil Young and Richie Furay. Like his erstwhile colleague, bass player Bruce Palmer, Martin (b. Walter Milton Dewayne Midkiff, September 30, 1940, Chesterville, near Ottawa, Canada) struggled to maintain a profile in the aftermath of Buffalo Springfield’s premature demise. While Stills and Young found international stardom in the supergroup Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young and as successful solo artists, and Furay as founder and guiding light of country-rock pioneers Poco, Martin’s own projects, the ill-fated New Buffalo Springfield and Medicine Ball quickly faded into obscurity. The fact that he revived the name of his former group suggests that Martin recognised his best hope of securing a musical future lay in carrying on where the old group had left off.
Yet when Buffalo Springfield performed their final date on May 5, 1968, the prospect of anyone reviving the band’s name was an unlikely proposition. Initially, Martin’s plans involved going on the road as a duo with his wife Jane, but this idea never progressed beyond the statement he made to the music press that spring. Indeed, according to a Teen Set press release from August 1968, the Martins spent the best part of the summer playing golf, while Martin looked around for suitable players to back him in an unnamed group specialising in soul, country, blues and jazz.
A month or two later, Martin’s band began to take on shape with the recruitment of four musicians that he’d spotted playing at a club in Phoenix, Arizona. Bass player Bob Apperson, drummer/vocalist Don Poncher (b. July 29, 1947, Chicago, Illinois), horn player Jim Price (b. Fort Worth, Texas) and lead guitarist Gary Rowles (b. January 24, 1943, New York) were friends from the San Fernando Valley in California, but had only been playing together as a band for a month when Martin discovered them. Rowles, who was the son of famous jazz pianist, Jimmy Rowles, had organised the quartet after leaving his previous employer Nooney Rickett and his group, The Noon Express.
Prior to the quartet’s formation, Apperson and Poncher had first worked together with future Blue Rose guitarist John Uribe in power trio Brothers Keepers in the San Fernando Valley. Apperson had joined the trio around 1967 after playing in the final incarnation of surf group, The Dartells while Poncher had gravitated to rock music after first working for country artist Tex Williams when he was 16-years-old. According to Poncher, it was Rowles who brought in Jim Price to complete the quartet.
With the core of the band formed, Martin added another Texan, former Armadillo rhythm guitarist/vocalist David Price (b. September 23, 1944, Ballinger, Texas), an old college friend of Mike Nesmith’s from San Antonio who’d been closely involved with The Monkees’ studio work and previously worked with Austin, Texas group, The Chelsea. David Price had also acted as Davy Jones’s stand in and also appeared as an extra in many of the episodes of the popular TV show, most notably as the chemist in The Prince and The Pauper.
“Mike [Nesmith] called and said Dewey Martin was auditioning a post-Buffalo Springfield band at his house in the hills and suggested I come up and check it out,” remembers Dave Price. “I had known Dewey from The Monkees tour days.”
In late October, Martin’s group drove up to Boulder, Colorado to rehearse material (mixing old Springfield songs with band originals like Jim Price’s “The Pony Express Man”) and to play some warm up gigs at a local dinner club for three weeks. During the first week, the band opened for The Everly Brothers.
|First incarnation, late 1968. Left to right: Dave Price, Jim Price, Dewey Martin, Bob Appersonand Gary Rowles. (Sitting) Don Poncher|
It may well have been during this period that the decision was made to adopt the Buffalo Springfield moniker. According to Gary Rowles, none of the group was a party to the decision and only realised the fact when they started turning up at concerts only to find the band billed as “New Buffalo Springfield”.
The fateful decision to use the name would subsequently lead Rowles and others to desert Martin’s band once Stills and Young took legal action and the guitarist suspects the band’s manager, Mike Zalk, was instrumental in persuading Martin to use the name. Dave Price concurs: “Mike Zalk was always out for a quick buck, so whatever he could book us as, he would.”
The New Buffalo Springfield soon hit the road and on November 16 opened for The Turtles at the Honolulu International Center in Hawaii. “It was the first time I’d played with 50,000 people all surrounding me and I was on a 20-foot high stage,” says Poncher. “I was about six feet above the band, so that’s something you never forget. It was really quite overwhelming.”
Soon afterwards, New Buffalo Springfield supported The Sir Douglas Quintet at a concert date in Salt Lake City (most likely the Terrace Ballroom) and Iron Butterfly at a show in Albuquerque. More shows followed, including an appearance at the Exhibit Hall in the Community Concourse in San Diego, which was greeted with muted response. Critic Mike Martin who was in attendance was not convinced and felt the “whole scene was a cheap ride on the well-earned fame of the Buffalo Springfield. Regrettably, someone is making money off the deception.”
Neither Stills nor Young were in California at the time, and it was only later when they caught wind of what was happening. In fact, it was probably Furay who alerted them to the deception after his new outfit (then called Pogo) performed in San Francisco on December 25-26, the same time that Martin’s bogus group was playing across town. On that occasion, Pogo were performing at the Fillmore West in San Francisco while Martin’s band was taking part in the highly publicised Holiday Rock Festival, held at the Cow Palace.
The Holiday Rock Festival show on December 26 was New Buffalo Springfield’s most high-profile concert date so far and also featured top acts, Canned Heat, Santana, The Electric Prunes and Steppenwolf among others.
The Thursday before the show, Martin had been interviewed about his new group’s appearance at the festival by journalist Peggy King for an article in the Oakland Tribune, which was published under the title “A new ‘Buffalo’ in rock roundup” on Saturday, 21 December. In the interview, Martin revealed that the show would include nine songs by the group, half old songs with the new sound and the rest new “Springfield” originals. A Conglomeration of jazz, rock and blues.
“We have a more powerful sound that’s the way I would compare it with the old group,” Martin told King. “Before it was east-going country-western. Now we’ve added some electronic sound devices and Jim Price on amplified trumpet and trombone.”
Martin goes on to explain that after the show, the band will “finish mapping out an album for Atlantic” (more of which later) and also reveals that, “we’re booked up pretty solid with jobs. We just take them as they come and try to do our best with each one no big plans.”
The weekend before the Holiday Rock Festival, the band had driven up to the Pacific Northwest, Martin’s old stomping ground and performed, somewhat mischievously, under the “Buffalo Springfield” banner at the Evergreen Ballroom in Olympia, Washington on December 23, with The White Hearts in support.
Olympia was small enough to get away with such a stunt but the Holiday Rock Festival had received too much publicity for Mike Zalk to risk billing the group as simply “Buffalo Springfield”. Even so, according to Rowles, the manager pulled out all the stops to publicise the band’s performance at the festival and hired some local help to ensure that its limos arrived on time. “The Hell’s Angels escorted us from the Fairmont Hotel to the Cow Palace gig - we didn’t have to stop once, and it was an amazing journey, to say the least.”
“I remember the Hell’s Angels breaking us into the back door of the Cow Palace even though we were an act there working,” adds Poncher. “They actually broke down the door and maced one of the cops. They wanted to help us with our gear on stage. They unplugged the entire stage and the whole house went dark for a couple of minutes.”
“The Cow Palace was a real disaster,” remembers Dave Price, who has his own take on the event. “We were supposed to go on relatively late in the day; we were actually fairly high on the bill and [Zalk] thought that if we just go over there and walk on stage and do our stuff, we’d just fade into the woodwork, so we needed to make a big splash. When we finally went on stage, the Hell’s Angels all went out and stood around the stage like they were our protectors and everybody in the place booed us something fierce. We really had a hard time. It was not a good show.”
Despite the reception, many no doubt had been led to believe that the original group had reformed for a one-off date. Having caught wind of Martin’s activities, Furay presumably contacted Stills, who was back in L.A. after a brief stint in London rehearsing his new project, Crosby, Stills & Nash.
On January 11, 1969 Martin’s group, billed as Buffalo Springfield, appeared at San Diego Sports Arena. As with all of the shows the band played, Martin fronted the group on stage, with Poncher handling the drums. “Dewey mostly would go out front and sing and then he’d come back and we’d double on drums on one song,” remembers Poncher.
Soon afterwards, Stills and Young took legal action to prevent their former drummer from using the name. Martin retaliated but subsequently lost the case, and with it his royalties. Nonetheless, he refused to give up and simply shortened the name to New Buffalo, although that didn’t last long.
While all this was going on, Jim Price took the opportunity to find employment elsewhere joining Leon Russell and later Delaney & Bonnie’s backing group. Bob Apperson and Gary Rowles soon followed Price out the door - Apperson subsequently pursuing session work with the likes of Jose Feliciano among others, while Rowles found employment with Love, the group he’d been asked to join the previous autumn, later appearing on the albums Out Here and False Start.
Don Poncher also decided that he’d had enough and split to do session work. “It was a dead horse,” sighs the drummer. “You’d go to a job out of state in another town and you’d get to the hotel and somebody would call up your room and say, ‘Hi, is Steve Stills there?’ Erm no.”
In February 1969, Billboard magazine revealed that Martin’s band (called New Buffalo Springfield) had been signed by Atlantic Records to record an album. For some reason these plans never materialised and a line up comprising Dewey Martin, Dave Price, lead guitarist Bob “B J” Jones (b. November 9, 1942, Woodbury, New Jersey), who’d previously worked with Little Richard and an obscure band called Danny & The Saints, and former Bobby Fuller Four bass player and singer Randy Fuller (b. January 29, 1944, Hobbs, New Mexico), spent the next few months or so playing small venue dates like Eureka Municipal Auditorium in Eureka, California on May 31. Increasingly, the band was billed as Blue Buffalo.
One of the main highlights during this period was the Santa Clara Country Fairgrounds, San Jose, “Teen Expo”, which ran from March 31-April 2, 1969, where the band (billed as New Buffalo Springfield) was headliners alongside Iron Butterfly and Santana.
|New Buffalo Springfield, spring 1969.Clockwise from top: Dewey Martin,Bob “B J” Jones, Dave Priceand Randy Fuller|
“My whole experience with Dewey was kind of playing off of, one way or another, Buffalo Springfield, even when it was Blue Buffalo,” admits Price. “But once we had the four-piece band with Randy and B J, we started trying to write originals and we did do some recording.
“I don’t know how it all transpired but Dewey somehow was able to get some studio time at a studio down in Hollywood. It was either Gold Star or Sunset Sound. We recorded one or two songs of mine and Dewey had some stuff of his that he threw in but it was all very chaotic. We were writing things on the spot. Dewey then sent those tapes to Atlantic.”
As Dave Price recalls, the label was not impressed with the tapes’ quality but sent out producer Tom Dowd to check out Martin’s latest project. “Dewey had, for whatever reason, brought in Hal Blaine to play on the session,” explains Price. “Tom Dowd was very hard nosed about things and rightfully so. He did one session with us and obviously went back to New York and said, ‘This is bullshit’, so nothing came of it.”
In an interesting side note, the rhythm guitarist remembers Martin crossing paths with one of his former Buffalo Springfield cohorts at one of the earlier sessions. “Before Tom Dowd came into town, Neil Young was recording in the same studio down the hall from us. I didn’t see him myself but all I heard was that he was pissed off with Dewey and whoever we were that he didn’t know.”
Sometime in late May or early June, Blue Buffalo added a second lead guitarist Joey Newman (b. Vern Kjellberg, August 29, 1947, Seattle, Washington), who’d previously worked with Northwest acts Merrilee Rush & The Turnabouts, The Liberty Party and Don & The Good Times and L.A-based outfit, Touch.
“We got him through Mike Zalk,” remembers Price. “He was from the North West and had been in and around all those bands. He decided that B J wasn’t up to the lead guitar chores, which he was, but Mike didn’t think so. B J and I started drifting more into a hard rock sound. We were sort of Jimi Hendrix fans. I think Mike didn’t like that direction so he brought in Joey. He added a whole new dimension to the band.”
The band then set off on a six-week driving tour of the North West, which would test the nerves of everyone involved. One of the first shows took place at Chehalis Civic Auditorium in Chehalis, Washington on June 21 where the group was billed as Buffalo Springfield. Another show, early the following month, at the Evergreen Ballroom in Olympia on July 3 (where The New Buffalo Springfield had played the previous December) used the same billing.
For more high-profile dates, the band appears to have been billed as New Buffalo Springfield. That was certainly the case when Martin’s group supported Paul Revere & The Raiders at the Seattle Center Arena on July 8-9. Further concerts followed, including an appearance at the Breakthru in Tacoma, Washington on July 11 and another show in Seattle at the Happening on July 19.
|Blue Mountain Eagle, November 1969. Left to right: Bob “B J” Jones, Joey Newman,Randy Fuller, Don Poncher and Dave Price. Photo credit: Henry Diltz|
“We did some stuff along the coast and playing places like Moses Lake, Washington, Walla Walla, those sort of things,” says Price. “Hermiston, Oregon was a good one [but] it was mainly a small town tour.”
Soon into the tour, however, the relationship between the band’s leader and the group began to sour. “Dewey and the rest of the band weren’t really getting on that well,” says Price. “Dewey had a lot of personal demons and at that time he was really wild and basically a loose canon, not that all the rest of us weren’t being idiots as well. We came back to L.A and we got together without Dewey and said, ‘This is crazy’ and essentially fired Dewey. Mike Zalk left with us. I don’t know if that was good or bad.”
“Dewey really should have had more success than he did but lacked a ’song’ and was somewhat a victim of his own excessive behaviour,” adds Joey Newman, on his brief involvement with Martin.
Left without a band, Martin struck lucky and signed a solo deal with Uni Records around September 1969. Shortly afterwards, he returned to the studio and, abetted by several session musicians (including guitar ace James Burton), he recorded a version of the country favourite “Jambalaya (On the Bayou)” backed by his own composition “Ala-Bam”, as a prospective single.
Under the musical direction of Mike Zalk, his former group meanwhile changed its name to Blue Mountain Eagle and recorded an eponymous album for Atco Records under the direction of David Geffen. Listening to it, the record bears all the hallmarks of the Buffalo Springfield sound.
By the time Blue Mountain Eagle’s album finally appeared in the shops in May 1970, Martin had been busy working on his next project, which was a more straightforward country-rock affair. The seeds of the new group, later to be called Medicine Ball, had been sown shortly after the release of his solo single “Jambalaya (On The Bayou)” in October. Credited to Dewey Martin, the single attracted little attention and even fewer sales, although this probably had something to do with the fact that only a handful of copies were pressed.
Undeterred, Martin set about piecing a new group together with 12-string guitarist John Noreen (b. August 13, 1950, Los Angeles, California), a former member of folk-rock band The Rose Garden - and best known for scoring a top 20 US hit in 1967 with “Next Plane to London”.
“I think Dewey and I got together through a mutual business partner, Charlie Greene of Greene and Stone,” recalls Noreen. “They produced my band The Rose Garden and they also produced The Buffalo Springfield among many others.
“It was just myself on guitar and steel guitar, Dewey on drums and a bass player named Terry O’Malley. We would rehearse at my house in the San Fernando Valley. I remember making some recordings of the rehearsals to check our progress. Two of the songs I remember were ‘When The Telephone Rings’ and ‘Sittin’ Here Thinkin’.” Anyway, it was decided to try another bass player, and we tried a few [but] I do not remember any names.”
Sometime in mid-December, Noreen bailed out. “I was going through a bad period in my life at that time. Uncle Sam was trying to send me off to Vietnam and I was a mess. My recollection of Dewey was that he was a good guy, he was funny and a good drummer.”
Starting from scratch, Martin ran into lead guitarist Billy Darnell in Nudie’s tailors around Christmas 1969 and asked him to form a new group with a guitarist and drummer who had recently come off the road with the late pianist Billy Preston. It wasn’t the first time the two had met.
Born in Michigan and raised in the San Fernando Valley, Darnell first bumped into Martin during a session break for Buffalo Springfield Again in late 1967. Popping out to buy some drum sticks from a local music store, Martin noticed Darnell playing Stephen Stills’s “Go and Say Goodbye” on a guitar and the pair immediately struck up a rapport. Though Martin subsequently invited Darnell back to the studios to watch Buffalo Springfield record, the pair wouldn’t meet again for another year, when Darnell found his band opening for New Buffalo Springfield on a couple of southern Californian dates.
Darnell’s previous musical accomplishments were modest - besides working with a Hollywood band called The Orphans and playing a couple of local dates with Albert King, his other notable achievement was doing session work for Dave Allen & The Arrows. Nevertheless, Darnell would ultimately become Medicine Ball’s longest serving member and would continue to work with Martin, on and off, over the next three decades.
Within days of Darnell’s arrival, Martin decided to dispense with the drummer and guitarist and began looking around for fresh blood. To fill the bass slot, Martin hired Terry Gregg (b. March 18, 1945, Port Angeles, Washington), formerly a member of Merrilee Rush & The Turnabouts and also a recent try out for the Righteous Brothers’ support band.
Around the same time, Martin added singer/songwriter and guitarist Ray Chafin (b. December 26, 1940, Williamson, West Virginia), whose musical career had started in the early 1960s when he rubbed shoulders with the original Beatles while playing at the Star Club in Hamburg, Germany. From there he returned home and worked for Fraternity Records in Cincinnati before recording for the LHI and Tower labels and co-writing songs for singer Dobie Gray. Chafin’s arrival coincided with the addition of singer/songwriter and keyboard player Peter Bradstreet (b. April 12, 1947, Oak Park, Illinois).
While Chafin’s involvement with Medicine Ball would prove to be brief, Bradstreet, like Darnell, became another Medicine Ball mainstay. He’d also later co-found the country-rock band Electric Range with Darnell in the early ’90s.
Raised in Chicago, Buffalo and Dayton, Bradstreet had previously recorded an unreleased album with folk artists John Alden, Sandy Roepken and Dave Garrison in New York for the Vanguard label before moving out to Los Angeles in late 1969. “Ray Chafin introduced me to Dobie [Gray] and Terry Gregg, whom I joined for a Turnabouts session [and] also got us together with Dewey and Billy,” remembers Bradstreet.
With Darnell arranging material and former Rolling Stones engineer Dave Hassinger producing, Medicine Ball entered the studios in early 1970 to record Ray Chafin’s “The Devil & Me”. “I remember Dewey loved the song, which initiated our meeting,” says Chafin. “It was that meeting which started my involvement with Medicine Ball [but] the whole experience was rocky from the beginning.”
While the strong material bode well for the group’s future, it soon became apparent that Medicine Ball was not going to be a democratic band; rather it was merely a vehicle for Dewey Martin’s solo career. This realisation led Chafin to move on after the first session and the remaining members cut two more tracks - Dewey Martin’s “Indian Child” and Peter Bradstreet and John Alden’s “I Do Believe”.
With Bob Stamps added on guitar, the band played an unannounced set at a small local venue. As Gregg fondly recalls: “The first and last live performance I did with Dewey was at a North Hollywood lounge, I can’t remember the name. Dewey knew the owner and set up a showcase appearance for the group to plug the album. Well, the band shows up and we’re ushered to a reserved table at the back of the club. They’ve got a cover band playing that was very good. Next, bottles of champagne show up at our table and we’re really lappin’ this stuff up!
“After the other band’s set, the owner gets up on stage and proceeds to tell the audience that he has a special treat for them that night and at the climax of his announcement says, ‘ladies and gentlemen, Dewey Martin and the Buffalo Springfield’. Dewey immediately gets up and heads for the stage and the rest of us sit and stare at each other. From there everything was a real struggle dealing with that announcement, plugging into amps we didn’t have time to really get to know or the time to adjust to us, and did three songs we had nailed pretty good in the studio, but they were studio arrangements not arranged for a live performance! Needless to say, we did the songs, the audience was pretty forgiving.”
Gregg says that soon after the gig, he got an invitation back in Seattle that he couldn’t refuse and left the band, followed by recent recruit Bob Stamps. Martin soldiered on recruiting former Sir Douglas Quintet bass player Harvey Kagan (b. April 18, 1946, Texas) and ex-Blue Mountain Eagle/New Buffalo Springfield member Randy Fuller on rhythm guitar and vocals.
“I had been working with Sir Douglas Quintet and we had a lull between performances, recordings, tours, etc. and somehow, through mutual friends, I got to meet Dewey and Bobby Fuller’s brother, Randy,” remembers Kagan. “We did a couple of early sessions with Dewey singing (his voice reminded me somewhat of Joe Cocker) and used a well known studio drummer, Hal Blaine, who I was excited to meet. I did not know why Dewey even wanted to use any other drummer because he was a very good drummer in his own right. He did play drums on the Medicine Ball album and threw together a bunch of musicians from different venues to try to capture the sound he wanted. Randy and I were the two Texas boys. He was a very nice person and always treated me like one of his best friends.”
As the recordings progressed, Martin began to take over production duties from Hassinger and the new line-up proceeded to cut two more tracks - Pete Bradstreet’s “Race Me On Down” (which the keyboard player says was written in about 20 minutes as Dewey had decided that the album wasn’t quite long enough!) and a cover of Buddy Holly’s “Maybe Baby”. “It was my idea to do ‘Maybe Baby’ on the album and I wanted to sing it but Dewey did it,” says Fuller, who soon lost faith in the Medicine Ball project.
Some rare photos of Medicine Ball was taken up in Decker Canyon before further personnel changes ensued. “[Randy and I] did do a few gigs together around the L.A. area with Dewey, including some college campuses, but I ended up going back with the Quintet and Dewey continued with other replacements,” remembers Kagan.
With Randy Fuller also gone, Martin brought in session steel guitar ace Buddy Emmons and former Danny Cox bass player Stephen Lefever and continued with the sessions.
Around the same time, Billy Darnell also left Medicine Ball (albeit temporarily) following a dispute over his guitar solo on “Maybe Baby” - and Martin invited his former Buffalo Springfield cohort Bruce Palmer to record one of his own compositions, the raga “Recital Palmer”. Darnell agreed to return to Medicine Ball on a session basis a few weeks later and contributed to the final sessions, which culminated in the recording of five tracks.
Amid all this activity, Martin received some much-needed exposure in the national music press when a Billboard article entitled “Dewey Martin As Innovative Producer” appeared discussing the fruits of the sessions. In the review, published in July 1970, Martin revealed that he had been “using pan techniques in recording drums, steel guitar and strings”. The supposed advantage of using such effects was that an instrument could “move from one channel to another”.
However, despite the advances in the studio, the group was slowly imploding. Following the final sessions, Peter Bradstreet dropped out (he subsequently reunited with Darnell in Doug Kershaw’s road band and the Atlantic Records’ band Starbuck) and a new short-lived line up featuring Martin and Darnell alongside bass player Tom Levy (who Martin had first met at Peter Tork’s house) and singer/songwriter and pianist Charles Lamont, formerly a member of Alexander’s Timeless Bloozband came together. The quartet were given a studio in Universal City to rehearse, but despite working on some interesting jazz-inspired material, the project quickly fell apart.
While Martin struggled to keep Medicine Ball together, Uni released the group’s eponymous album, which attracted a positive write up in the August edition of Variety magazine. Other reviewers agreed. Dick Hartsook, writing in the Texas newspaper, Abilene Reporter-News on September 13 noted that, “Dewey Martin & Medicine Ball should have a tremendous amount of excitement in the music world for a while. The group has one of those necessary winning combinations.”
The reviewer goes on to describe the record as good, heavy music with fresh lyrics. “Dewey has one of the most dynamic voices I’ve heard in a while, and considering he’s the drummer for the group, that’s saying a lot,” beams Hartsook. “Playing good drums takes a lot of concentration, and Dewey plays drums and sings at the same time, doing a lot with both.”
Indeed, although Dewey Martin & Medicine Ball has often been slighted, there is much to commend it. With the exception of a few tracks, the album stands up surprisingly well and this is largely due to the group’s stellar performances and Martin’s careful choice of material. As he had indicated in Billboard in July, Martin had selected all the songs for the album “looking first at the lyrics”, since the album was his first vehicle as a singer.
Among the highlights are covers of Jim Ford’s sprightly “Right Now Train”, two introspective Ron Davies songs - “Silent Song Thru’ The Land” and “Change”, and the excellent Bradstreet/Alden collaboration “I Do Believe”. (Incidentally, Bradstreet and Alden composed a number of songs during this period including, “Gone Under No Uncertain Terms”, apparently a reference to Darnell’s brief departure, which would be recorded some 25 years later with their group Electric Range).
Yet despite this positive review and the publicity surrounding the use of Martin’s composition “Indian Child” on the soundtrack to the film Angels Die Hard, Uni Records dropped the band shortly after the album’s release. Sessions for an album with RCA culminated in five tracks, although only two emerged on a lone single - “Caress Me Pretty Music/There Must Be A Reason”, released in early 1971. While the single is credited to Dewey Martin & Medicine Ball, it actually features Martin backed by Elvis Presley’s band.
“After Medicine Ball, I went with RCA and got through five takes,” says Martin. “My producer got everyone of the people on the session from the Elvis big band and I sang it live.”
The single pretty much ended Martin’s recording career; after producing an album for Truk, entitled Truk Tracks, and appearing on a late ’70s Hoyt Axton record, he dropped out of music for the rest of the ’70s and became a car mechanic. (Martin did briefly reunite with Darnell and bass player Tom Levy in the mid-’70s and worked with songwriter P F Sloan on a proposed album. The project however, failed to progress beyond the rehearsal stage.)
During the mid-’80s, Martin did return to the drum stool reuniting with Bruce Palmer in the tribute group Buffalo Springfield Revisited in 1985. The band toured fairly extensively (an appearance at the Vietnam Veteran’s Benefit concert at the L.A. Forum in February 1986 being among the highlights) and recorded a version of Neil Young’s “Down To The Wire”, before Martin opted out.
Reunited with Darnell, Martin worked with a short-lived band called Pink Slip. The group, which also included former Byrds bass player John York and ex-Crazy Horse guitarist Michael Curtis, gigged informally in the San Fernando area, but never recorded any material. At the same time, Darnell, Martin and York made a demo with former Eagle Randy Meisner, which resulted in both Darnell and Martin being recruited in to Meisner’s band Open Secret. Led by ex-Firefall singer Rick Roberts, and also featuring Bray Ghiglia, Open Secret subsequently changed name to the Roberts-Meisner Band.
|Buffalo Springfield Revisted, 1987. Bruce Palmer (top left); Dewey Martin (top right)|
Darnell and Martin however, soon lost interest and dropped out to form a new group with Michael Curtis and former Al Stewart bass player Robin Lamble, which went under the name Buffalo Springfield Again. Not surprisingly, Martin’s latest project soon ran foul of the other original members, most notably Richie Furay, who took legal action to prevent him from using the name. In 1993, Martin moved up to Canada and did several tours in Western Canada as Buffalo Springfield Revisited with Frank Wilks, his brother John on bass/vocals and Derek Atherton on lead guitar/vocals but retired from live work soon afterwards. Since then has been busy developing his own drum rim, a multi-level drum rim, which he plans to call the “Dewey Rim”. According to Martin, the noted drummer Jim Keltner has tried out a proto-type and is going to give him an endorsement.
Despite the quality of musicianship, Martin’s post-Buffalo Springfield work with New Buffalo Springfield and Medicine Ball failed to capture the public’s imagination. Nevertheless, the Medicine Ball album includes some first-rate material that, arguably, is comparable with the work produced by Martin’s erstwhile colleagues from The Buffalo Springfield. The album’s release on CD, including the non-album tracks, is long overdue.
Many thanks to the following for their generous help: Dewey Martin, Dave Price, Gary Rowles, Billy Darnell, Don Poncher, Terry Gregg, Ray Chafin, Randy Fuller, Harvey Kagan, John Noreen, Joey Newman, Peter Bradstreet, Bob Jones, John Einarson, Carny Corbett, Jerry Fuentes, Trevor Brooke, Derek Atherton and David Peter Housden. The Electric Range website also proved invaluable.
I have tried to ensure that the article is as accurate as possible. However, I accept that there may be errors and omissions and would be interested to hear from anyone who can add material or correct any mistakes.
I can be contacted at Warchive@aol.com
Copyright © Nick Warburton, 2014. All Rights Reserved. No part of this article may be reproduced or transmitted in any from or by any means, without prior permission from the aut