Home / Bruce Palmer of Buffalo Springfield: 1946 – 2004

Bruce Palmer of Buffalo Springfield: 1946 – 2004

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Bruce Palmer, bassist for the Buffalo Springfield, has died of a heart attack at age 58.

“There’s not a person who listened to the Buffalo Springfield that
wasn’t drawn to the way he played bass,” said bandmate Richie Furay. “He made the music move — Bruce was truly a musician’s musician. I consider it a
privilege to have played with him in such a creative time in my life.”

Bruce Palmer was born in 1946, in Nova Scotia, Canada, and was most well known as the bassist for the Buffalo Springfield. Palmer began his musical career in Toronto with Jack London & the Sparrows.

He then joined the Mynah Birds, with Rick James on vocals. In 1966, Neil Young joined the Mynah Birds, on the Motown label, although an album was never released.

Bruce Palmer was with Neil Young for the legendary meeting on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles with Stephen Stills and Richie Furay. On the way out of town, Stills recognized Young’s hearse with Canadian plates and flagged them down. The rest is history, as they began jamming immediately and formed the Buffalo Springfield.

From The Buffalo Springfield Story:

    “But within weeks of Buffalo Springfield forming, a less welcome development entered into Neil Young’s life. He and Bruce Palmer were stoned,
    standing in a small crowd watching a man demonstrating a Vegematic kitchen slicer when Neil collapsed. He was having his first epileptic fit, a condition whose
    medical treatment only enhanced his moody and intense personality: simultaneous (such were the times) self-medication of dope,speed and acid didn`t help. His two songs on the self titled first Buffalo Springfield LP, ‘Flying On The Ground Is Wrong’ and ‘Burned’ alluded to bad trips-unusual in an era of psychedelic celebration.”

Joining Neil Young and Stephen Stills in the Buffalo Springfield would be the brief highlight of his career.Palmer was replaced by Jim Messina on bass due to a variety of drug problems and immigration issues.

“Bruce was the mysterious one in the group,” Furay adds. “You may not have always known what he was thinking as he just looked at you and smiled, but when he plugged the bass in, there was no mistaking his life was truly about the music.”

Otherwise, Palmer’s only other musical effort was a solo album, “The Cycle Is Complete”, an experimental album. Palmer briefly formed the band Buffalo Springfield revisited but there was little output from the brief reunion band that was without Young and Stills.

Bruce, Rest in Peace.

Also, for more on Neil Young, Stephen Stills, Jim Messina and Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young pages. Also, see Buffalo Springfield page.

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About Thrasher

  • Tom Arnold

    I have vivid recollections of the kid who lived next door to me. After all, he was one of three boys in the Palmer household and was only two years my junior.

    Bruce hung with my crowd during the fifties and early sixties. Like most kids, we were involved with the music of the day and several of my friends were into putting a group together. Robin Currie, who went on to considerable local fame as Robbie Lane of Robbie Lane and the Disciples was part of that crowd.

    When I think of all the words that someone would want to be used by people describing them, the following come to mind.

    – trustworthy
    – faithful
    – friendly
    – helpful
    – worthy
    – intelligent
    – reliable
    – kind
    – caring
    – talented
    – popular

    However, in the case of Bruce Palmer, I would have to add the prefix “UN” to each of those above words when describing the person I knew on a continuous daily basis for about fourteen years.

    In searching through some of the sites online about Bruce, I read with considerable amusement his recollections about how he became involved with the guitar and rock & roll. Interestingly, those memories he spoke of during an interview, differ vastly from my own. But then again, there is no telling just how much affect certain substances have on brain cells, is there?

    Tom Arnold
    – formerly of Willowdale, Ontario.

  • Rick Hoffman

    I rememeber a cut on an album called something like Extravaganza Palmer – Anyone remember any such thing. Its not on his solo album – I thought it was a Sprongfield cut but cant find any reference to it.


  • Eric Olsen

    thanks Rickman, very good to hear from you!

  • Rickman Mason

    I have to this day never played with a bass player as good as Bruce.
    I was the drummer in the Mynah Birds that did all the Motown recordings in 1966. I have a photo of Bruce, Ricky & myself,that will be comming up in a bio of the band through Nick Warburton soon.(Ear Candy)
    Rickman Mason
    Brantford, Ontario

  • No word from Neil as of yet on Bruce’s passing. I’ll update if I learn more. Please post if you hear more, also.

  • Francis Mackan

    has there been any comment from Neil on all of this?


  • Eric Olsen

    thanks! Life must be very frustrating for the many who have tasted fame then been unceremoniously tossed back out the door.

  • Eric – Good question. Certainly Palmer wasn’t doing much musically, sadly.

    He did attempt to reform Buffalo Springfield as the “Buffalo Springfield Revisited” but there was little output from the brief reunion band. Mainly due to Neil Young and Stephen Stills apparent lack of interest.

    Although the reunion may have led to the impetus of the Buffalo Springfield box set which was finally released after about 10 years of back & forth. Great set but definitely for completists. 😉

  • Eric Olsen

    Thrash, thanks and sorry for gettign to this story so late, very sad. What the heck was the guy doing for the last 30+ years?