Tuesday, March 27, 2007

ROCKIN' (and rollin') with the Buffalo Springfield (part 2: the investigation continues)










One of the fascinating, semi-apocryphal tales told in ROCKIN' is that of how the Buffalo Springfield band found each other on a particular street in Los Angeles, Neil Young and Bruce Palmer going one way (just down from Canada, allegedly headed out of town to San Francisco) and Stephen Stills and Richie Furay either in the opposite lane or across the street . . . or something. See page 97 to refresh your memory of the many versions offered up--much of this courtesy historian Joel Bernstein and the Buffalo Springfield box set which he coordinated.
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Now, we also "know" that the band took their name from the nameplate on the side of a steamroller--made by the Buffalo-Springfield Roller Company--that was "parked on the street outside producer Barry Friedman's house."
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In ROCKIN' I included, as a reference point to only the name itself, an early '20s ad for the Buffalo-Springfield Company, but in no way was it meant to suggest that an early model roller was parked on the street in 1966.
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More likely, it was a mid-'60s roller, and not a steam roller. Ahem.
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Now, I put forth this challenge. Let's see (number one) if someone can determine which member of the band saw that particular roller. And, further (number two), which model roller (and from what manufacturing year) was it.
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Here's some guiding information. The Buffalo-Springfield Roller Company resulted from a merger of the Buffalo Steam Roller Company and the Kelly-Springfield Road Roller Company. These companies were outgrowths of road roller developments of the Buffalo-Pitts Company, manufacturer of threshing machines and steam traction engines in Buffalo, New York, beginning in 1890, and the Ohio-Springfield Kelly Company of Springfield [Ohio] beginning in 1902.
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In 1957, Buffalo-Springfield Roller Company of Springfield, Ohio was purchased by Koehring Company of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and now operates as a division of that company (one of 14 operating divisions and affiliated companies throughout the world).
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So that would mean that Neil Young (as some tales have it) or another bandmember (or staffer, or friend, or producer) who spied the roller actually saw not an antique as portrayed in the photos above, but more likely a late '50s or early-mid '60s model, such as the "C" Model shown above from an ad.
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Also up for investigation is what the (mid-'60s) nameplate actually looked like. The one shown at the top of this blog may well only apply to the models from the 1920s through the 1940s. Likely by the time Koehring acquired Buffalo-Springfield, the nameplate design had been modernized.
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Just sayin' . . .

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

It is also possible that Richie Furay chose the name because he is from Yellow Springs Ohio approximately 12 miles South from Springfield Ohio

Anonymous said...

I was a big Buffalo Springfield fan at Syracuse University 66-70, and there was a yellow Buffalo-Springfield Steam Roller parked for days at a construction site. One of my pals swiped the sign off the 60s model tank and gave it to me. It was about 1/2 to a 1/3 inch thick, rectangular, yellow with black raised letters that said Buffalo Springfield. It was about 20 pounds. I wish I still had it.

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