Richie Furay — considered one of the pioneers of country-rock — is coming to the Garden State on Saturday, November 18, 2023 to perform in the Legends of Country Rock concert with Firefall and Pure Prairie League at MPAC in Morristown, NJ. Furay is a Rock and Roll Hall of Famer considered by many as the voice of country rock. In fact, it is said that at an Eagles concert in Denver, band leader Glenn Frey once pointed out Furay in the audience and announced, “If it wasn’t for you, we wouldn’t be here.”
Spotlight Central recently caught up with Furay and talked with him about some of his early musical experiences, an upcoming documentary on his life, and his November 18, 2023 Legends of Country Rock performance in NJ with Firefall and Pure Prairie League.
Spotlight Central: Many people know you as an original member of Buffalo Springfield with Stephen Stills and Neil Young. Do you have any special memories from that period in your life that you can share with us?
There are, obviously, a few. People probably say that one would be being inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame — and I do think that was neat. But, also, early on, the friendship that we had while we were making music — you know, before we had a record contract and played at the Hollywood Bowl with the Rolling Stones — everybody seemed to have the right attitude and it was a good time. Everything was fresh, it was all new, and everybody was having fun, so I think a favorite memory would be of that camaraderie we all had in the very beginning which, I think, was just super.
You mentioned being inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Was that a surprise or something that, perhaps, you were expecting?
Golly, I’m not sure. I got the phone call from Neil Young — and I think, sometimes, that the whole Rock and Roll Hall of Fame deal is kind of interesting. I think Jann Wenner had a big influence on getting the people he really liked into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. And, so, his being a very big fan of Neil Young, I’m pretty sure, might have had some influence on our getting in. But I don’t know. I don’t want to belittle the fact that we made our mark and that two guys, for sure — Stephen and Neil — came out of that band and went on to tremendous success in the music business.
So even though I think Jann Wenner had some influence on who was inducted, I think it was worthy, but I also think Poco has been dissed. They laid the ground work for the Eagles. Let’s face it, I’ve heard Don Henley, Glen Frey, and Timothy B. Schmit all make mention of Poco and yet there’s absolutely no recognition of the influence we had turning up the ground, so to speak, so that they could go on to the success they had.
You mentioned some of your memories of your time with Buffalo Springfield, but what about with Poco and that great group of musicians you put together for that group?
[Laughs] These are some hard questions because you can go back and look at so many things, but I think the exciting thing about Poco was the fact that when the five originals — Jimmy Messina, Rusty Young, George Grantham, Randy Meisner, and I — got together, we all had that one vision: “We’re gonna create something brand new for our generation.” And I think all the excitement around that was something that was very special. For me, I can look back on it now and see we were all on the same page, we were all looking to do the same thing, and we all actually set out and accomplished what we wanted to do.
And so many music fans are thankful you did!
Yeah, we paved the way for a great American sound that the Eagles went on and perfected.
And speaking of the Eagles, we read somewhere that you just went to see them perform recently. What were your thoughts seeing them — did you feel like a proud papa?
I went as a fan! I’d seen them on several different occasions and I don’t know what it was about this particular time, but it was really special; they were really, really good. The guitars with Joe Walsh and Steuart Smith and Vince Gill, my goodness, and the voices — you know, they’ve always been terrific with their harmonies and all. And I just sat back and I smiled, and I told Timothy later, “Man, I just came as a fan, and it was just absolutely special”; it was really, really good and I enjoyed it a lot.
Based on your work with Buffalo Springfield, Poco, Souther-Hillman-Furay Band, not to mention your solo music career, there’s currently a documentary in production about your life. Can you give us an update on the status of the film?
Yeah, the documentary is rolling along. We obviously ran into snags with the COVID episode that we had — we’ve been working on this since 2018 and when the COVID situation kinda shut everything down, it shut down the production on the documentary — but we’ve picked it up again with interviews. In fact, just last week, Cameron Crowe did an interview with David Geffen, so that’s what we’ve really been looking at, just getting all of the interviews collected. And it’s really coming down to the wire now where we’re putting the final touches on the documentary and looking for a release next year.
Excellent! We have to tell you that one of our favorite recordings of the last few years is your album, In the Country. By any chance, have you considered a follow-up project to it yet?
Not yet. There are songs that I think, you know, “Oh boy, it would have been nice to have put that one on the record,” but I haven’t really thought about it that much. I mean, it was a fun project and I’m glad I did it. I had great fun with producer Val Garay, and it was also fun to meet some new guys and do a new project with songs I really liked. Val picked some of the songs and I picked some of the songs and I think the ones we picked were perfect and we captured each one and made it mine.
You’re still doing live concerts and your voice, to us, still sounds so young. To what do you attribute that?
[Laughs] I have no idea, man, ’cause I’ll tell you what — sometimes it’s hard! These days, I can go out and do two or three shows back to back and then, boy, it’s like, “Oh, my goodness, where did the voice go?” So I don’t know what it is but I’ve been blessed with that and just thank the Lord for it.
Speaking about shows, you’re going to be doing a Legends of Country Rock show at MPAC in Morristown, NJ, where you’ll appear with Firefall — a group that’s said they’ve been influenced by your work — along with Pure Prairie League. Usually, when we’ve seen you over the last couple of years, you’ve worked as a solo artist, but what are your thoughts about working on a show with a multiple bill like this?
It’s gonna be a new experience. It was something that my manager, David Stone, and Bruce Houghton, the agent, came up with to get me out there a little bit. You know, when Rusty Young was alive, he went out and did a few shows with Poco, Firefall, and Pure Prairie League, and I think David and Bruce thought, “Well, hey, let’s try having Richie go out and do some shows with them, too.”
So it’s gonna be a new experience and we’ll see how it works. If it goes really well, then we may do more of them — I’m not opposed to that, even though [laughs] I’m sure my retirement concert at SOPAC in South Orange, NJ will be coming up next year at some time! But if it goes well, I’m certainly not opposed to doing more. For this show, I’ll be performing with my daughter, Jessie Lynch, and guitarist Dan Skarda. We’ll be doing a few songs on our own, and then Firefall will back me up on three or four songs, as well.
Is there anything you want to say to folks who are considering coming out to the show, or even to your fans in the New Jersey area who see this — you know, you have a lot of fans in the Garden State who look forward to your performances here.
I’m really thankful for the fans — I call them “friends” now — who come out to hear us. It’s always fun to mingle with some of them beforehand. At this age, I love getting out, and I love playing and seeing everyone, so I hope more folks will come out and I’ll get a chance to say “hi’ to them. And having Firefall and Pure Prairie League on the bill, I’m sure we’re gonna be playing to a little bit of a different audience, so I’ll get to introduce myself to some new people and I hope we’ll be able to continue that relationship going forward!
The Legends of County Rock concert starring Firefall, Pure Prairie League, and Richie Furay will take place at 8pm on Saturday, November 18, 2023 at MPAC (Mayo Performing Arts Center), 100 South Street, Morristown NJ. Tickets range from $39 to $89 and can be purchased by going to mayoarts.org.
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