Located in West Hollywood on Santa Monica Boulevard, the Troubadour is not only one of the most storied live music nightclubs in the U.S., but holds a crucial place in the development of California music in the 1960s & 70s. The Byrds, James Taylor, Joni Mitchell, Neil Diamond, Linda Ronstadt and so many more have graced its stage. And as depicted in the movie Rocket Man, the “Troub” also hosted the first U.S. performance by a fledgling singer and piano player named Elton John.
Two other bands who played scores of shows there were Buffalo Springfield and Poco, both co-founded by singer/guitarist Richie Furay. Now, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Poco’s live record DeLIVErin’, Furay will release the CD/DVD set Return to the Troubadour: DeLIVErin’ Again (DSDK Productions).
The first set includes a career retrospective of tunes from Furay’s groups (Buffalo Springfield, Poco, Souther-Hillman-Furay Band) and solo work, while the second half features DeLIVErin’ in its entirety. The show was filmed in pre-pandemic times, and features a guest performance by current Eagle and former Poco singer/bassist Timothy B. Schmit. Furay would leave Poco in 1973, before they scored the hits “Crazy Love” and “The Heart of the Night.”
“With Poco, we did a lot of rehearsals at the Troubadour when we got started. [Owner] Doug Weston let us use it. Of course, we had to also play there at night!” Furay laughs on the phone from his home in the foothills west of Boulder, Colorado. “There was a really popular scene around the club around our genre of music at the time. Poco put in a lot of hard work on that stage.”
In a sort of onion skin-layer logic, Still DeLIVErin’ is essentially a live record of a live record of songs from studio records. Surprisingly, it wasn’t an idea that Furay was too keen on when it was first presented to him.
“I was a bit hesitant at first. The original live record was so special to Poco fans, but in my set over the past few years, I was performing most of the songs anyway! So we set out to learn the other ones, and it turned out pretty cool and unique,” Furay says. “I just wanted to know if we could pull it off, readdress the songs, and bring them more up to date. Recording technology has come so far since the original record. I’m not looking for comparisons, I just want people to enjoy the music.”
Performer/Manager Peter Asher and former Eagle/founding Poco singer-bassist Randy Meisner were in the audience as well. Furay’s band includes Scott Sellen, Jack Jeckot, Aaron Sellen, Alan Lemke, daughter Jesse Furay Lynch, and guest Dave Pearlman.
One thing that’s palpable in the video is the musical and personal respect and admiration that Furay and Timothy B. Schmit (who also wrote for Poco) have for each other. “Our relationship has never waned, and I’m very thankful for that,” Furay says. “And I hadn’t seen Randy [Meisner] in many years. That was special.”
While the Byrds and Buffalo Springfield made some early dabs into what would be called “country rock,” and the Flying Burrito Brothers and Eagles gained media attention or took it to the bank respectively, Poco often gets lost or overlooked in the story of the genre. Furay points to exclusion of the band’s story in two separate recent documentaries on the music of Laurel Canyon as partial evidence.
“When we were playing at the Troubadour, the audiences just kept coming. It was packed every night. We were there at Ground Zero. But I felt that a couple of recent media projects kind of dissed Poco. It was disheartening, like we weren’t even there,” Furay says.
“We pioneered that country rock sound, while we may not have had the success as some others who came after us. I remember [Eagles singer/guitarist] Glenn Frey sitting on my living room floor in Laurel Canyon while I was rehearsing Poco, and he was picking up on something. He and the Eagles took it to the limit so to say, but somebody had to be the groundbreaker.”
In 1997, Furay was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as part of the Buffalo Springfield. He, Stephen Stills, Bruce Palmer [bass] and Dewey Martin [drums] all attended. Conspicuous by his absence was Neil Young, the result of an abrupt decision.
“I wish Neil would have showed up because it would have been the last time all five of us would have been together,” Furay says. “I got a phone call from him saying how great it was going to be. Then I got a fax saying ‘I’m not coming.’” In video footage of the band’s acceptance speech, Furay and Stills joke about getting the same fax from Young.
It would not be the only abrupt decision of Young’s that would affect the band. An effort reunite the original five in 1986 (with percussionist Joe Vitale added) only lasted a couple of rehearsals. In 2011, a lineup of surviving members Furay, Stills, and Young, along with Vitale (drums) and Rick Rosas (bass) played Young’s Bridge School Benefit at his request, which then led to a handful of California dates and a headlining slot at the Bonnaroo festival. But just when fans were salivating for concert seats, Young pulled the plug in a proposed 30+ date 2012 tour shortly before it was set to begin.
“The one in 1986 was a train wreck and never got off the ground,” Furay says. “But the one about 10 years ago was completely different. It’s [unfortunate] that it didn’t last longer.”
To the casual student of rock history, Furay has been cast in a role—like Hillman with the Byrds and Graham Nash with CSN/CSNY—as the peacemaker between more mercurial bandmates. But he doesn’t see it that way.
“Sometimes Bob, I feel that people are trying to make more out of it a situation than really what was there. A lot of people want to think there was a lot of tension and dissension in the Springfield. But there were about nine people in and out of that band in two years, so it would be hard to keep that together anyway,” Furay offers. “Stephen [Stills] and Neil [Young] were such prolific songwriters. The funny thing is, we looked at what happened with the Byrds and said ‘That will never happen to us.’ And then it did!”
Outside of music, Furay is very much open about his devout Christianity, something he was introduced to in the 1970’s by multi-instrumentalist and Manassas member Al Perkins, and shares with former bandmate Chris Hillman. The latter of whom told The Houston Press last year he sometimes speaks with Furay about religion, and while their faiths may differ, they’re “all on the same ball team.”
“If Jesus is front and center, then that’s good enough for me!” Furay laughs. In fact, for much of the past decades, Furay has also written and recorded Christian music. And in 2017, he retired from Calvary Chapel in Broomfield, Colorado after serving as Pastor for 35 years. He and his wife Nancy—who he met at an early Buffalo Springfield gig at the Whisky a Go Go—have been married for more than 50 years.
Today, Furay is busy with a number of new projects including a “Nashville record” with special guests set to come out in June, a Cameron Crowe-narrated documentary on his life and music in development called Through it All: The Life and Influence of Richie Furay, and new music like “America, America,” which he debuted on the Mike Huckabee show. And he’s still writing new songs.
“It’s just instilled in me,” Furay sums up. “I don’t sit down and think ‘I’m going to spend three hours today writing songs.’ I sit down and do it when I’m inspired.”
For more on Richie Furay visit RichieFuray.com
This interview originally appeared at HoustonPress.com