Dewey Martin Moves On
Victor Krummenacher, the bass player for Camper Van Beethoven, gave Smoke Music a thoughtful remembrance of Dewey Martin, the late drummer for Buffalo Springfield.
Dewey Martin , the drummer of the Buffalo Springfield, passed away last week at the age of 68. Dewey was an incredible drummer, who not only worked with Neil Young and Steven Stills in the Buffalo Springfield, but he also did some real Nashville time, playing drums for the likes of Patsy Cline and Charlie Rich. Deep stuff.
I had an odd night long ago, where I met Dewey and spent an evening with him, hanging out. I didn’t realize it so much at the time, but it was a formative event for me. There was a lot of wisdom passed down about the life of a musician, and it’s stuck with me ever since. Tommy Tompkins, who I worked with at the Bay Guardian for a number of years, asked me to tell this story, so here goes:
In February 1990, Camper Van Beethoven was facing some tumultuous times. We were probably at the peak of our fame, but privately running on fumes. We’d been on the road or in the studio for the better part of the last year, and had few breaks for several years before that. We’d gone through some harsh lineup changes, lot’s of crazy ups and downs. In the midst of all this insanity, I was also coming out and everything was pretty upside down. Being in the band was great, but it didn’t provide a lot of time to do much else other than be in the band. I don’t think I was alone in feeling a little overwhelmed by having membership in a band overshadowing my personal life. I don’t think anybody who has been in a band of any renown has escaped those feelings of conflict. It goes with the territory.
In January, Camper had just finished a few weeks on the East Coast. Good shows as I recall, NYC, Philly, DC, down into the South, ending in Memphis. I had just moved to San Francisco. After the East Coast stint, we went back to the West Coast for a few days, before heading off on a long tour of Europe.
I didn’t have much time, but I decided to head to LA for a couple of days to visit a guy I was seeing, and get in a little downtime before yet another tour (we’d been in motion pretty much constantly since the previous summer).
I flew from SFO to LAX in the evening. I was trying to get my ass up to Hollywood. As per usual for the time, I didn’t have a ton of cash in pocket. I was probably waiting for tour profits to get divvied up, and that always took a while. So I was looking for an airport shuttle to Hollywood, down by baggage claim.
About that time, a guy approached me. He looked to be in his late forties or so, dusty blond hair, medium build, glasses. “Hey man,” he said, “you looking for a ride into town?” I thought better of it, bootleg shuttles/limos often being a bad trip (no pun intended).
“I’m not interested.”
“I’m not a loser man, I’m a good guy. I’m just trying to make a living.”
“Yeah man, me too.”
“I’m not a criminal man, I used to be in a band.” He had obviously taken
note of my bass in it’s shoulder bag. I looked the part.
“Yeah?” I said cynically. “Really. Who?”
“The Buffalo Springfield.”
“THE Buffalo Springfield? The Neil Young, Steven Stills, Richie Furay