Buffalo Springfield’s 1967 “Bluebird” Acetate

Here’s my story of Buffalo Springfield’s “Bluebird,” the original extended acetate.

I entered Antioch College in late June 1969. Located in Yellow Springs, Ohio, some of what I knew of its location was that a few miles up the road was Springfield, the birthplace of Jonathan Winters, and that Yellow Springs itself was where Buffalo Springfield guitarist/singer/songwriter Richie Furay was born and had grown up. I was a huge fan of the Springfield before I left Baltimore for college, so this was a big deal for me. (For those unfamiliar with the band, in addition to Furay were Stephen Stills and Neil Young.)

In the middle of the main town drag in Yellow Springs was a small knickknack store owned by Richie’s mom called, surprisingly, “Furay’s.” I went in there that summer and chatted with her, and she ended up selling me a copy of the debut LP of her son’s then-new band, Poco. (The Springfield had broken up the year before.)

Fast-forward two years later, mid-May 1971. A nearby dormmate named Andy Plesser was a budding entrepreneur, and, through Richie’s mom, managed to persuade Poco to extend their Spring tour for one more day and come home to Yellow Springs. And so on May 23 they performed at an outdoor space on the college campus. I had been futzing around at the college’s radio station since I entered the place, and so I was able to borrow its portable tape recorder and ask the band’s sound mixer, whose equipment was located in the middle of the lawn, if I could plug his mixer’s outputs into the recorder’s inputs. He said sure, so I ended up with a soundboard recording of that day’s concert.

Here are photos taken by fellow student Dan Marshall:

Richie Furay.
Timothy Schmidt
The crowd

After it was over, I walked over to behind the makeshift stage and chatted a bit with Richie, asked if he wanted a dub of the show, then mentioned a little-known and unreleased song he had written and recorded with the Springfield, then re-recorded it with Poco to very little chart success (“My Kind of Love”).

I then asked him about this legendary 20-minute studio version of Buffalo Springfield’s “Bluebird” I had heard about for a number of years but never heard. A 4-minute version had been released on the Springfield’s second LP in 1967, but legend had it that this take was originally far longer. The song was written by Stills, and it was one of the first records I remember hearing back in Baltimore that mixed the acoustic guitar playing (Stills) with the two electrics (Richie and Neil) so seamlessly. It was such a standout recording.

Richie said it was actually around 10 minutes long, not 20, and he suggested I contact a radio station in Boston, WBCN, and ask them for a copy, using his name as a reference. After spending the rest of the night and following day making dubs of the concert for Andy, the radio station, and whoever else wanted it, I wrote to WBCN on the 25th, using the station’s stationary, declared myself its “chief recording engineer,” made up some fiction about an upcoming Springfield retrospective the station was planning, and hoped for the best. The school term was close to ending, and it seemed realistically doubtful anything would come of this.

Just over a week later, on June 2, I was walking around on campus and this student I didn’t know came up to me, asked if I was who I was, and told me there was a package addressed to me at the station but that someone had taken it. He knew who it was and where he lived, so we went to this guy’s place where I retrieved whatever it was he had swiped. No questions asked, at least I had the package.

It was from WBCN; it included the letter I had written, though now with some annotations from the person to whom it was addressed and the person to whom he had referred it. There was also a reel-to-reel tape. Based on the annotations, it consisted of two unreleased Springfield tracks, Neil Young’s “Down to the Wire,” and the song I had been wanting to hear for years, “Bluebird.” It was recorded at the station’s top professional speed, 15 ips, so the first thing I did was to go to the college station and make a dub at a speed most home recorders could play, 7 1/2 ips. And it was that version I’d play for myself and friends. The original 15 ips version I stored away.

My return letter to WBCN with annotations at the bottom.
The reel-to-reel audio tape that was included in the return letter.

This version of “Bluebird” sounded like a dub of an acetate, with very minor acetate “noise.” Besides the extended length (9 1/2 minutes), this mix included an added Neil Young lead guitar that had been edited out of the released 1967 version.

The person who sent me the tape signed his name on that annotated letter, but all I could make out was his first, “Charles”; his last name was “Laqui…” something (“Laquiclara?”). I didn’t recognize the name.

Until late that year, when Poco released their live LP, “Deliverin’,” recorded in Boston and New York. The liner notes were written by a “Charles Laquidara.” Aha! That’s who that was. One mystery solved.

In 1973, the band’s record label, Atco, released a 2-LP anthology, and included was an extended version of “Bluebird.” But it was different from what I had been sent. First, it was in stereo (the acetate was in mono); second, its length was 30 seconds shorter than the version I had; and third, it didn’t include Young’s added guitar lead. (Also, Atco had edited out a vulgarity that Stills had slipped out.)

So what I had was still rare and unreleased. Over the next few decades there’d be the occasional Springfield bootleg that would include this rare version, but the sound quality was horrible: it’d start in the middle of the intro, it’d skip, it sounded like an acetate played way too many times so that it had deteriorated greatly. But it was a collectable since it was so rare. But I knew what I had was of far better quality.

Fast-forward again, now to late 2003. Now having the equipment to digitize music, I dug out the original 15 ips tape, played it back for the first time in over 32 years on a reel-to-reel that had 15 ips recording and playback capacity, and transferred it into the computer, saving it in both lossless AIFF format and .mp3.

I also set about looking for Charles Laquidara and to finally thank him for the tape. A few hours of Google searches, and there he was, retired after decades at WBCN, now living in Hawaii. So I emailed him, apologized for waiting so long to get back to him but wanting to close this circle.

He sends back an email 10 minutes later and says he was just at that moment searching online for this version, having lost his copy many, many years ago. So I immediately sent him my .mp3 version.

I asked him what he remembered about this version: he told me that when he was working at KPPC in Pasadena in 1968, Richie Furay and Jim Messina (the new bassist and producer on the Springfield’s final album released that year) came by and gave him a copy of the acetate. I had then also learned from the late Ted Alvy that the band made the acetate at their recording studio in L.A. so that they could then take it to a local radio station and have the deejay there (the famous R. Mitchell Reed) spin it. They’d then listen to the broadcast on their car radio to see how it sounded on tinny speakers and how many potential record buyers would be listening to it.

But they decided to scrap it and release the edited 4-minute version instead. They even refused to include it on their 2000 multi-CD anthology.

So, after all the decades, after all of the bootlegs, I believe that the version Charles had sent me in the Spring of 1971 remains the cleanest, clearest version that exists of this particular mix.

And so here it is: https://audioboo.fm/boos/2419848-bluebird-stills-1967-extended-acetate

Updated link:

(This initial contact with Charles paid further dividends a year later when John C. Winn and I were researching the history of the earliest Beatles bootlegs, but that’s a tale for another time.)

24 thoughts on “Buffalo Springfield’s 1967 “Bluebird” Acetate

  1. I included a vastly inferior copy on the Springfield Compilation “The Missing Herd” back in 2001. This is likely what you were referring to. After creating the fan (me) made compilation, it was subsequently bootlegged. Ugh. Very cool that you have “the best” copy of this version/mix. Thank you for sharing it. Is there any way I can get a FLAC of the uncompressed file? Thanks again!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. A summer camp friend from way back posted yesterday about the version of “Bluebird” on the Springfield comp, then mentioned he thought there was an even longer version out there…and asked about the Boston station that might have played it way back then. I told him it had to be WBCN, but that I’d never heard of a version longer than 9:00. He thanked me and then pulled up this page of yours, which he shared. I was dumbfounded that this version existed, even though I used to listen to WBCN regularly as a kid at the time Laquidara must’ve been airing it.

    But I was also surprised because this past Tuesday I aired an interview show on WMBR (MIT’s radio station, where many WBCN jocks derived from), with pedal steel player Rusty Young of Poco. Rusty also played on Furay’s “Kind Woman” on the BS’s “Last Time Around” album. And because I played something from the Poco’s live “Delivery” LP, I read on air the Laquidara liner note on the back cover. Talk about synchronicity.

    It was pleasure to hear this, DOn.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I bought a Bluebird acetate from Ted Alvy. Saw your blog article on it on a Buffalo Springfield page on FB. Thanks for posting this different version. Attached is a comment about how I got it from Ted. If you want more of the story contact me via FB Messenger, email (mvfeldman@yahoo.com) or text/call 678-313-7610….MY COMMENT…. Wow. In August of 1977 I met Ted Alvy who was living in Seattle at the time. He told me he had an acetate of ‘Bluebird’ and had worked as a DJ at a Los Angeles radio station. Having heard the story that a band member had taken it to a radio station in L.A. to be played over the air and that the extended version (I didn’t know there was more than 1 extended version) I figured this was probably the genuine article that had been recorded off the radio and ended up on the ‘Bluebird Roots’ bootleg LP that I owned. I met Ted while I was the assistant store manager interviewing people to hire for the new Peaches Records and Tapes store getting ready to open in Seattle. Ted knew a lot about music so I hired him. I kept bugging him to sell me the acetate until a few months later he agreed to sell it to me for modest sum of $25 on the condition I never re-sell it. Ted didn’t stay at Peaches very long and I never saw or heard from him again. I never compared it closely to the version on the bootleg but thought it sounded the same. Years later, maybe in the 90’s I decided to sell it to a Neil Young collector in England who was looking for Neil Young rarities in a classified ad in the back of Goldmjne Magazine. I thought I was getting a good price selling it for $400. What a mistake. I imagine if I’d held onto it could have easily fetched $10,000 or a lot more. I figured Ted would never know I sold it. If there’s a heaven he’s probably laughing at me for practically giving it away, just like he did. Coincidentally, just like the blogger of this article, I also attended Antioch College. I was there from 1971-1973.


  4. One of The finest “Bluebird” recordings my ears have ever witnessed! I have a cassette recording of this dubbed from a tape from the late Pete Fornatel, NY dj.


  5. Wow, My late Brother Michael and I wore out the record at home and an 8 track in the car of the great BS Album. We played in a Band and did their songs. This was great to hear! Thank You so much.


  6. Excellent Don! I know I heard this version back in the day. Listened again…. Most Definitely. I listened almost exclusively to BCN in the late 60’s early 70’s. Charles Laquidara was the man. No other station played the songs they did. Saw Poco in Boston back then too. those were the days!!


  7. Many thanks, much appreciated ! Remember hearing this on BCN back on their “Rare Tape Nights”. any chance of getting “Down To The Wire “as well ? That is a different version from Decade, with more guitars and backing vocals. Thanks.


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