Courtesy Buffalo Springfield Com
By Thomas Semioli
Derailed by substance abuse, Bruce Palmer’s career could have been much more – as evidenced by his lone solo slab The Cycle Is Complete (1971) wherein the multi-instrumentalist / bassist turns in a turns in a rather engaging and eccentric jazz, psychedelic, new age song-cycle comprised of extended electric Miles- like jams and improv.
His first band of renown was Jack London & The Sparrows, a smokin’ rhythm and blues outfit that featured a cat who went on to fame and (mis)fortune as Rick James. Bruce assumed the bass chair from RJ’s player Nick St. Nicholas, later of Steppenwolf – and they took flight as the Mynah Birds, adding another Canadian, guitarist, singer, and songwriter Neil Young. The band scored a deal with Motown which fell apart when James was busted for going AWOL from the United States Navy. Neil and Bruce headed to Los Angeles wherein they formed Buffalo Springfield and the rest, as they say, is history…
Though Stephen Stills and Young were the primary composers, according to Stills and Atlantic Records honcho Ahmet Ertegun – Bruce emerged as the rhythmic glue that held the band together. However drug busts and deportations in ’67 and ‘68 caused Palmer, a Canadian, to leave the band on two occasions. The troubled bassist was eventually replaced by Jim Messina and bassist Jim Fielder, later of Blood, Sweat & Tears.
Palmer failed an audition with CSN&Y and Neil tried in vain to get Bruce in playing condition for his early 80s Trans tour, but to no avail. Bruce Palmer passed in 2004.
Bruce Palmer Sound & Vision