Richie Furay concerts span 40 years of musical history
If you’re Richie Furay, you have no shortage of songs to play on tour.
The singer and songwriter — one of the founding members of Buffalo Springfield, Poco and the trio featuring J.D. Souther and Chris Hillman — can look back on 40 years of music and select which songs he wants to perform on any given night.
When Furay comes to Park City for a three-night stand at the Egyptian Theatre starting this Thursday, he plans to reach deep into those 40 years for the concerts.
“I’ll cover just about everything from Buffalo Springfield, Poco and Souther, Hillman, Furay,” Furay said during an interview with The Park Record. “I’ll do my solo music as well.”
Furay, who has his own band called the Richie Furay Band, will play the Egyptian shows in an intimate trio that features his daughter, Jesse Lynch, and his co-writer, Scott Sellen.
“We’ve got it down that we can tour with the full band or smaller breakouts,” Furay said. “When I play with my full band, we have Scott’s son playing with us as well as Jesse. And if they weren’t in the band, it wouldn’t be as fun.”
Still, looking back on his career that includes anthems and hits such as “For What It’s Worth,” “Rock ‘n’ Roll Woman,” “C’mon” and “Just for Me and You,” Furay knows how lucky he is to be part of American music history.
“It’s pretty humbling to think that you’ve been a part of such a musical legacy and still be able to do it, with what I consider quality, at this age,” he said. “It’s humbling to me that people still care and want to come out. We sure hope they’ll come out to see us.”
Furay’s fascination with music stems from Ricky Nelson.
“It had a big impact on me when I saw him in ‘Ozzie & Harriet’ and saw him playing his guitar at high school dances,” Furay said.
When folk music came along, Furay dropped out of college and took off from his home in Yellow Springs, Ohio, to play folk music in New York.
That’s when he met Stephen Stills, who would become his musical partner in Buffalo Springfield.
“I played with Stephen Stills in a group called the Au Go Go Singers in New York,” Furay said. “They were like a Serendipity Singers and New Christy Minstrels with seven guys, two gals, a stand-up bass and banjo.”
When the group broke up, Furay didn’t know what he was going to do next.
“I left New York and went up to Connecticut and Massachusetts to work at Whitney Aircraft,” he said.
During that time, one of his friends from New York visited and brought up the Byrds’ “Mr. Tambourine Man.”
“My friend’s name was Gram Parsons, and when I heard that music, I knew I had to start making music again,” Furay said. “I got ahold of Stephen in Los Angeles. He told me he had a band and they needed another singer.
“Of course, when I got there, it was just me and Stephen,” he said. “But one thing led to another and the music has spoken for itself. I’ve been very fortunate to play with some great musicians and I hope they feel my contributions have meant as much as those guys have meant to me.”
Still, the work in Buffalo Springfield and Poco showed Furay that his musical endeavors weren’t futile.
“There were nine people in and out of Springfield in two years, who were always trying to replace one guy or another,” he said. “It just didn’t work because there was a chemistry between the five original members of the band — Stills, Furay, Dewey Martin, Bruce Palmer and Neil Young.”
While Stills was a huge influence on Furay lyrically, working with other musicians in Poco, namely Jimmy Messina, former Eagle Randy Meisner and his replacement, Timothy B. Schmit, were also musical highlights for Furay.
“As singers, I was happy to have Randy and Timothy in the band,” he said. “Obviously, I was looking for people to complement me with my vocals and certainly Timothy and Randy did that. I was so happy to give those guys an opportunity to move on and grow.
“Some of it is fate, I guess, because I was there at the right time,” he said. “I was able to cross paths with some wonderful people and musicians.”
When it came time to venture to a new musical outlet, Furay found himself at another crossroads. So, he joined up with songwriter J.D. Souther and Chris Hillman from the Byrds.
“When I was with Chris and J.D., my wife and I faced some challenges and it was there I had to make a choice,” he said. “Should I put the effort forth to resolve the differences that Nancy and I had in our marriage or should I pursue a musical career?
“In some respects, it wasn’t a difficult decision,” Furay said. “I chose to go ahead and do everything I could to restore my marriage. We’ve been together now for 49 years.”
Still, Furay did feel his musical career had ended.
“It wasn’t until somewhere down the line that I saw that there was still room in my life for music,” he said. “A few years ago, a friend of mine named Kenny Weisberg, who was promoting concerts in San Diego, wrote to me and asked me to come out.”
Furay didn’t think he could do it, but Sellen did.
“Kenny called back and said you just can come out for a 30-minute set and enjoy yourself,” Furay said. “He told me the set was an opening slot for Stephen Stills.”
Since then, the Buffalo Springfield did some reunion shows and Furay published a memoir, “Picking Up the Pieces,” and released a string of solo albums, including his latest, “Hand in Hand.”
“I don’t have another word for it, but it is a humbling experience to know that the world was ready to accept the music you created from somewhere within,” he said.
Richie Furay will perform three nights at the Egyptian Theatre, 328 Main St., from Thursday, July 28, to Saturday, July 30. The concerts will start at 8 p.m. Thursday’s tickets range from $23 to $35 and tickets for Friday and Saturday are $29 to $45. They can be purchased by visiting http://www.parkcityshows.com.