The Buffalo Sellouts

When the 60’s ushered in a new generation of artists and musicians, they commanded and delivered a new level of respect and integrity! Gone we’re old school “publicity stunts like “Win a date with Fabian””or “”Meet Connie Francis at the Malt Shop”! However…

In 1966 (  l to r )  Dewey Martin, Jimmy Messina, Neil Young, Ritchie Furay and Stephen Stills were five of the most talented singer / songwriters that had ever come together on the streets of Los Angeles. They collectively had a huge and lasting impact on the future of  rock, with anti war and protest movement anthem’s  such as ‘For What It’s Worth’ and later with CSNY’s ‘Ohio’. The Buffalo Springfield represented the best of  the new breed of singer songwriters with artistic integrity being everything for them and we respected and loved them for that! But in 1967, frustrated by having not reached the superstar status that they felt was deserved, and beginning to quarrel among themselves, they agreed  to  a rather embarrassing promotional stunt.

In 1967, the number one radio station in Los Angeles was 93 / KHJ. Although the station’s Top 40 format didn’t quite fit with what Buffalo Springfield were  all about, they had a huge, record buying audience, and KHJ wanted to grow it! KHJ devised a contest: They announced an opportunity to write a song with  The Buffalo Springfield, encouraging listeners to submit poems and lyrics to which the band would set their music. Not only that, the writer of the winning lyrics was promised a grand prize of $1000 and all the songwriter royalties. At this point, the royalty rate was one cent per record sold. Amounting to around &5000! Immediately, KHJ’s studio was deluged with cards and letters, and every hour the ‘boss jocks’ would read one of the many submissions on the air, making it a finalist. I remember driving around L.A with my best friend Louie and laughing our asses off as ‘The Real Don Steele’ read these lyrics in a straight and dead serious voice as if he were reciting Shakespeare. Most were juvenile, maudlin babble as you might expect from some 13 year old girl in West Covina. This was about the time my friends and I began referring to The Buffalo Springfield as “The Buffalo Sellouts”! YIKES, did our new favorite “Cool” band actually agree to this? And the simple answer is Yes!

The eventual winning entry was “In The Hour Of Not Quite Rain” written by Micki Callen. It is loaded with all the youthful amateurs nonsense we cited above as well as Micki’s attempt to include as many “Psychedelic” buzzwords that were quite prevalent in current popular songwriting. Ultimately the track got little attention, Naturally KHJ played it, other stations wouldn’t touch it because “It was a KHJ promotion stunt! “The Hour Of Not Quite Rain” can be found on The Buffalo Springfield’s album “Last Time Around” appropriately named as it was the bands final album together! You actually may know this song from listening to it on your “in dash” 8-track tape player ( although we’d always hit the skip button on ours) but you rarely heard it on the radio unless you lived in L.A. and we’re tuned into “93/KHJ!

Bottom line, The Buffalo Springfield finally got into “Heavy Rotation on 93/KHJ and it only cost them $5000! Have you ever heard this contrived composition? That’s why we’re here… And what do you think ?…

11 Comments

  1. Another one that truly shocked me was Jefferson Airplane screaming about “Whiiiite Leeevis!” broadcast commercial.

    • Hey M. T Head
      First, we’d like to welcome you to SMS! You make an excellent point and you won)t get an atgrument from us in that regard! However in 1967 we found what “The Springfield did with 93 /KHJ offensive and a very cheap shot and compromise!
      Thanx for joining the commentary M.T, please don’t be a stranger!
      Rick/ SMS

  2. SSERENDIPITY!! JUST got this album for the “BUFFALO” collection and had NO IDEA about this song and it’s story. I’ll say that it is not one of my favs but boy Rick, you reminded me of all the nutzoid antics that were taking place in those VERY INTRIGING and ecciting days!!!!
    All Love…wood

  3. Fellas..As I recall, Bruce Palmer was mentioned last month as one of the best unheralded bass players of the 60’s, and I agree…Okay, Buffalo Springfield is one of my favorite bands of all time. Very inspirational. I can’t believe with my obsession of them that I never have heard of this contest, and I listened to KHJ and The Real Don Steele a lot. Had I been aware of that contest, I am sure I would have sent some hideous, teenage lyric in the hopes of having my favorite band write it with me and of course, make 5 G’s. I bought “Last Time Around” the day it was released. and still have it. My first listen (in an altered state of consciousness, if you get my drift) was amazing. There sandwiched between the Steven Still’s rocking “Special Care” and “Questions” came Richie Furay and “The Hour Of Not Quite Rain”. MAN, my mind was blown. I thought it was beautiful. I picked up the needle and played it like 4 times in a row. It was such a departure for them. I had no idea it was a contest winner. I break that album out from time to time to get that feeling back. Vinyl, of course.

    On a side note, a couple of years ago I was music director and working on a TV show, “The Joey Canyon Show’, out of Colorado. Richie Furay was one of our guest stars. Our band backed him up on “Kind Woman” and a new song, “We Were The Dreamers”. As song about those old Poco and Springfield days. He was the coolest down to earth dude. Hanging with him for a couple of hours was the best. One of my idols. It was like being in a band with him, for a minute. That voice is still the same. it’s the old, he could sing the phone book and make it sound like it was brilliant. It was a very good day.

    • Hey Curtis,
      I’m with you, the Buffalo Springfield were everything! And yeah we cited Bruce Palmer, their original bass play as one of the most under appreciated bass player’s from the 60’s And YES, the contest really happened “In The Hour of not Quite Rain” was the winner! I hated it but, like you, I loved Ritchie’s vocals! In the early 90’s I had the opportunity to work with Ritchie and like you it was a “Pinch me and wake me up from this dream” Moment! What a great guy! On every level!
      Thanx Curtis, I always really enjoy your old band stories! Please Keep ‘em coming! So glad you enjoyed the piece!
      Shoe

    • Me TOO! I LIVED in my radio…how DID I not know this! May be I was one of those “BUTTON PUSHERS”!!

      • Hey Woody,
        To be honest, I was more of a KRLA 1110a.m. Or a KFWEB / 980 a.m. kind of guy, but I did listen just enough to 93 / KHJ to recall this awful promotion, which always made me “Push the button” each time “In The Hour Of Not Quite Rain” came on the air!
        Thanx Wood,
        Shoe

  4. Hey Steve,
    Yes, of course you are correct, but as the piece is all about their last album and to keep it simple we focused on the Jim Messina period!
    But thanx for that important detail about one of our all time faves!
    Rick

  5. Just for accuracy, Bruce Palmer was the original bass player. Messina didn’t join until the last album.

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