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Richie Furay: What It's Worth

By Shannon Woodland and Scott Ross
The 700 Club

CBN.comRichie Furay helped shape the sound of folk and country rock as we know it today. It all started with his first guitar when he was only eight years old.

Richie Furay: I remember Christmas morning going downstairs. I saw this shadow around the Christmas tree and said, “Wow! I got a guitar.” I went up to this thing and looked at it. It was puke green with cowboy scenes on it and a gut string guitar. I marched it upstairs to my parents bedroom, and I said, “I want a real guitar.”

Scott Ross: You turned in your Christmas present.

Furay: I turned in my Christmas present.

Buffalo SpringfieldRoss [reporting]: Well, Richie finally got a real guitar. Plus he had talent, and he had drive. After college he moved to New York City. This was where all the who’s who of the music industry hung out. There he met Steven Stills, Neal Young and Jim Messina. Buffalo Springfield emerged.

Furay: We thought the only competition we had were the Beatles.

Ross: Really?

Furay: Sure that was it. That was in our mind. The only competition we had was the Beatles.

Ross: But Buffalo Springfield broke up.

Furay: Yeah, two years.

Ross: Two years.

Furay: Yeah, we were together two years -- one hit, two years.

Ross: Then you evolved out of that experience to Poco.

Furay: Poco.

Ross: That was your group?

Furay: That was my group. Jimmy Messina and I started the band but I looked at it as my group. We had a conscious idea of what we wanted to do. We wanted to bridge the gap between country music and rock and roll.

Ross [reporting]: Poco couldn’t make a go of it. There was little support from radio and that was where it all happened.

PocoFuray: It frustrated me. When we recorded, [it was] a good feeling to know we thought this was it. We were on our first tour to support that album and just had the radio on all the time. The first thing we heard one night going to a show: “Well I’m traveling down the road trying to loosen my load,” and my heart just sunk. Because…

Ross: That was the Eagles.

Furay: That was the Eagles. My heart sunk, and it was at that point I said, “Poco is never going to have a hit record.”

Ross [reporting]: The Souther Hillman Furay band was his next step pursuing rock and roll stardom. But Richie had been working at becoming a star for six years now, and . . .

Furay: I was consumed with wanting that rock and roll success. I’d seen Steven and Neal go on to just giant success. Jimmy had left Poco at that time and got together with Kenny Loggins of Loggins and Messina, and I’m thinking, What about me? I’m just as talented as these guys. What about me?

Ross [reporting]: Nancy came on the scene when Buffalo Springfield was still recording. Richie and Nancy were married and started a family. But Richie’s drive for rock and roll fame took its toll on their marriage, and after seven years they separated.

Furay: I had no idea there was a problem in my family.

Ross [reporting]: But while Richie was consumed with his career, Nancy was looking for something to give her life meaning. This led her to accept Jesus Christ. In the meantime, Richie was trying to put together his new band, Souther Hillman and Furay. Guitar player, Al Perkins, was being considered.

Furay: I said there’s no way this guy is going to be in the band.

Ross: Why?

Furay: Because Al had a guitar and on that guitar was a little fish [that] said Jesus is Lord. I’m on my way to rock and roll stardom -- rock and roll success. I’ve got a one track mind. I saw this guy, [and] I knew his talent. I knew his ability, but I said no way he’s going to be in the band because he’s a Christian and that would have stopped us from attaining the success that I wanted to attain.

Ross [reporting]: Well, Al did join the band. Soon Al and his wife were having dinner with Richie a lot.

Furay: His routine was always: we’re going to have dinner. “Richie, do you want to pray to receive Christ?” “No.” But this one night in Aspen it was like, “I do.” Nancy has in her mind the marriage is over. She’s out of the marriage. I call her up the morning after Al had led me to the Lord. I said, ‘Nancy, you won’t believe what I did. I accepted Christ.”

Ross: Did she jump up and down?

Furay: No, dead silence, dead silence.

Ross: Did you stop loving him?

Nancy Furay: No, I thought I did but I didn’t.

Ross: You had come to the Lord, and he comes to Jesus. You’re kind of passive about it -- noncommittal. I thought you would have been jumping up and down.

Nancy: I wanted out of the marriage. I knew being a believer I didn’t have an out anymore.

Ross [reporting]: Richie was hopeful that Nancy would agree to give the marriage a chance. But Nancy was apprehensive and Richie was in agony. It took a real gut wrenching conversation with God to get down to the facts.

Furay: I was crying my brains out. I had to pull off the road. I was crying out to God, "I want my family back. I want them back." I can still hear that still, small voice, “That’s how much I want you to want Me.” He was showing Nancy and I during that seven-month separation that He had to be first in our lives.

Nancy and Richie FurayRoss: Now your marriage has lasted 39 years. When you look back on all of it, are you glad you stuck with him?

Nancy: Oh yeah. It’s been good. It’s been very good.

Ross [reporting]: He implies throughout that none of his groups were successful, although we know that’s not true. In 1997, Richie was enshrined in the Rock and Roll Music Hall of Fame for his contribution to Buffalo Springfield. He has the statue to prove it.

Furay: It’s awesome. I’ve lived my dreams. It’s beyond anything that I could have asked for. To have my name written there with Elvis Presley and Ricky Nelson… it’s pretty touching to know that the music I’ve made over the years has had an impact on people. But let me tell you, there’s nothing more important than my name being written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.

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