January 31, 2009 – Dewey Martin , born Walter Milton Dwayne Midkiff in Chesterville, Ontario, Canada on September 30, 1940 was best known for his work with the notoriously volatile country rock band, Buffalo Springfield.
Dewey started playing drums when he was 13 years old and joined a high school band The Jive Rockets, but was soon playing with more professional rockabilly bands, including Bernie Early & The Early Birds. After his army discharge, he moved to Nashville in 1961 where he became an in-demand session drummer, playing and recording with the likes of Carl Perkins, Charlie Rich, Patsy Cline, Everly Brothers, Faron Young and Roy Orbison among others.
In 1963, he travelled to Los Angeles with Faron Young’s band, where he decided to stay. He first worked with a group called Lucky Lee & The Blue Diamonds. In November 1964, with some local musicians, calling themselves Sir Raleigh & The Cupons, Dewey recorded his first single, a rendition of “White Cliffs of Dover”. They released four more singles “While I Wait”/”Somethin’ or Other”; “Tomorrow’s Gonna Be Another Day”/”Whitcomb Street”; “Tell Her Tonight”/”If You Need Me”; and “I Don’t Want to Cry”/”Always”. He also worked with The Standells; MFQ; and The Dillards before becoming a founding member of Buffalo Springfield, playing on all 3 of their albums.
In concert, he sang covers “In The Midnight Hour”, “Nobody’s Fool” and “Good Time Boy”. The latter appeared on the band’s second album, “Buffalo Springfield Again”. He also sang Neil Young’s “Mr Soul” as the introduction to Young’s “Broken Arrow” on the same album and backing vocals on the band’s biggest hit, “For What It’s Worth”.
Buffalo Springfield split in 1968, after which Dewey formed a new version the “New Buffalo Springfield”, The new band toured extensively with the likes of The Turtles and appeared at the “Holiday Rock Festival” in San Francisco along with Steppenwolf and Canned Heat amongst others. Dewey soon fell foul when Stephen Stills and Neil Young took legal action to prevent Dewey from using the band’s name. Dewey lost the case and with it his royalties. Undeterred, he simply shortened the name to New Buffalo and continued to tour until July 1969.
In September 1969, he recorded a cover of “Jambalaya” with session ace James Burton on guitar. It was released as a single with Martin’s own composition “Ala-Bam” on the b-side. Next, he put together the band Medicine Ball, releasing the album, “Dewey Martin’s Medicine Ball”, which featured steel guitarist Buddy Emmons and former Buffalo Springfield bass player the late Bruce Palmer.
After producing an album for Truk in 1971, Dewey retired for a while from the music industry to become a car mechanic. During the mid-1980s he briefly worked with Pink Slip and the Meisner-Roberts Band. He also played with Buffalo Springfield Revisited, the band formed by original bass player, Bruce Palmer.
During the early 1990s, Dewey revived the “Buffalo Springfield” mantle again for further live work but retired soon afterwards. Since then he spent time developing his own drum rim and 1997 saw him inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Sadly a somewhat unheralded drummer, but it should be remembered and noted, that in his era, he was a highly influentual musician with unique drumming skills for the time, he was also well known for his many jovial pranks, his battle with the demon drink and will be remembered for having an incredibly friendly and kind soul.
He died at the age of 68 on Jan. 31, 2009. He was found dead in his Van Nuys apartment by a roommate. The cause of death is considered natural after longtime friend Lisa Lenes said Dewey had health problems in the years leading up to his death and she believed he died of natural causes.