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Despite being miles ahead of their time and writing one of the greatest rock songs ever (“For What It’s Worth”), Buffalo Springfield fell into the margins of rock history after making three albums between 1966 and 1968 and splitting up. That’s probably because a few of the members—namely Stephen Stills, Neil Young and Jim Messina—would go on to even bigger things. Another core member, Richie Furay, took Messina (plus recruits Rusty Young, George Grantham and future Eagle Randy Meisner) and started Poco as a vehicle for the blend of rock and country that he’d brought to Buffalo Springfield. Poco’s debut 1969 album, Pickin’ Up the Pieces, along with the first Flying Burrito Brothers album, are now considered two of the most influential albums of the country-rock movement. On Poco’s self-titled sophomore album, another future Eagle, Timothy B. Schmit, replaced Meisner on bass. Both records were well-regarded, but neither got much radio play.
Messina departed in 1971 but, interestingly, secured the services of his replacement, guitarist and songwriter Paul Cotton, and actually oversaw a transition of power during a three-night run at Fillmore West on Oct. 30, 31 and Nov. 1, 1970, when Poco opened for Procol Harum. On the first two nights, Messina played while Cotton studied. On the final night, Cotton took over, with Messina observing. It wasn’t the band’s first personnel shake-up, and it would be far from the last, but Rusty Young kept Poco kept chugging along into the 21st century, and they can occasionally be found onstage today.
Listen here to Poco play one of their most popular songs, the shoutalong “C’mon,” plus the country stomper “Hear That Music” on this date in 1970.