Richie Furay was one of the earliest innovators of country rock in the '60s as a member of Buffalo Springfield and Poco. His outstanding vocal abilities were called upon by Springfield bandmates Neil Young and Stephen Stills to take the lead singing slot on their compositions as well as his own country inflected tunes. Furay went on to have a memorable career with The Souther Hillman Furay Band and solo recordings in addition to his historic run with the groundbreaking country rock pioneers Poco.
Last Saturday, May 17th, Furay's 70th birthday was celebrated as well as his career at The South Orange Performing Arts Center in South Orange, New Jersey. His birthday was actually May 9th. The Richie Furay Band performed and were joined on stage by a number of guests and video tributes.
The show opened with Furay's daughter, vocalist Jesse Furay Lynch performing with the band. Her short set included rousing versions of the Motown classic 'Heatwave' and The Rolling Stones' 'Tumblin' Dice.'
Former Poco bandmate pedal steel guitar player and singer Rusty Young came on next for a solo set that included a performance of the novelty song 'Neil Young' which features the line "Neil Young is not my brother." Furay and daughter Jesse joined Young as he sang the Poco hit 'Crazy Love.'
The show's promoter David Stone then presented a video montage of tributes to Furay by his friends and musical colleagues over the years including segments by Jim Messina, Al Perkins, Paul Cotton, Dickie Betts, Chris Hillman, John Batdorf, Kenny Loggins, Tommy James, Peter Noone, original Poco drummer George Grantham (an in-person guest), and Graham Nash as well as disc jockey and long-time Furay friend, the late Pete Fornatale. The video tributes were followed by a birthday cake presented to Furay by promoter and friend David Stone and his wife Nancy.
The Richie Furay Band's set was next including the Souther Hillman Furay Band hit 'Fallin' in Love,' and Buffalo Springfield era classics 'Kind Woman' and 'On the Way Home.' Rusty Young and fellow original Poco member, drummer George Grantham joined the band for the first Poco album title tune 'Pickin' Up The Pieces,' as well as a selection of older and more recent Furay and Poco tunes including 'Still Fine.'
Surprise guest Mark Volman of the Turtles and Flo and Eddie fame came on stage as the band kicked into 'Happy Together' to surprise his old friend.
Richie Furay had (and still has) one of the best voices in popular music and his own compositions as well as those by his superstar former partners were given great performances on this night celebrating his milestone birthday. His current band is top notch and always gives a great show. The tributes and guest appearances were icing on the (birthday) cake.
Furay's new CD Hand in Hand is due out any day.