LOS ANGELES — Dewey Martin, the muscular, gregarious drummer and singer who helped found the pioneering country rock band Buffalo Springfield with Neil Young and Stephen Stills, has died. He was 68.
Martin was found dead Sunday by a roommate in his Van Nuys apartment, longtime friend Lisa Lenes said. She said Martin had health problems in recent years and she believed he died of natural causes.
Martin, along with Young, Stills, singer-songwriter-guitarist Richie Furay and bassist Bruce Palmer, formed Buffalo Springfield in Los Angeles in 1966 and quickly became one of the hottest live acts on the West Coast, helped in part by the grinning, blond Martin.
Their self-titled debut album included the hit "For What It's Worth," a solemn observation of 1960s turmoil. They would later produce such classics as "Bluebird" and "Rock & Roll Woman" and Martin's husky vocals were featured at the start of another Springfield favorite, Young's "Broken Arrow."
The band broke up in 1968 amid tension between Young and Stills, but several members went on to even greater success and Buffalo Springfield's stature grew over the years, with Young often expressing regret they didn't stay together longer.
Young has had a highly successful solo career and also joined with Stills in Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. Furay formed Poco, another early country rock band. Jim Messina, who replaced Palmer on bass, teamed with Kenny Loggins and had several hits as Loggins and Messina.
Martin continued performing under various incarnations of the band. He and Palmer toured as Buffalo Springfield Revisited in the mid-1980s, and for a time in the 1990s he played shows as Buffalo Springfield Again. (Palmer died in 2004.)
Martin also formed other groups, including Medicine Ball, which released one album.
Born Walter Milton Dwayne Midkiff in Chesterfield, Canada, he began playing drums as a teenager and settled in Nashville in his early 20s, playing for Patsy Cline, Charlie Rich and other country artists. He then moved West and joined the influential bluegrass band, the Dillards, before Young helped bring him into Buffalo Springfield.
Lenes said Martin will be buried in his native country.