On this day in music history: January 9, 1967 …

On this day in music history: January 9, 1967 – “For What It’s Worth (Stop, Hey What’s That Sound)” by Buffalo Springfield is released. Written by Stephen Stills, it is the third single and biggest hit for the American-Canadian rock band based in Los Angeles, CA. Taking their name from the Buffalo-Springfield Roller Company off the side of a steamroller parked in front of original band manager Frazier Mohawk’s (aka Barry Friedman) home, Buffalo Springfield are formed in Los Angeles, CA in early 1966. Consisting of guitarist and vocalist Stephen Stills, lead guitarist and vocalist Neil Young, bassist Bruce Palmer, guitarist and vocalist Richie Furay and drummer Dewey Martin, the band make their public debut at the famed Troubadour nightclub in West Hollywood on April 11, 1966. After touring as an opening act for The Dillards and The Byrds, they land a residency at The Whisky a Go Go. The gig draws enthusiastic audiences, and along with it interest from record labels. Atlantic Records sign them to their Atco imprint and put the band in the studio. After their first two singles “Nowadays Clancy Can’t Even Sing” (#110 Pop Bubbling Under) and “Burned” fail to make any impact (outside of L.A.), the band continue to work on material. The inspiration for “For What It’s Worth” comes from an incident that takes place on November 12, 1966. A curfew law is passed in the city of Hollywood, created to clear crowds of young people off the busy Sunset Strip after 10pm. A demonstration is organized, with over 1,000 protesters gathering in front of the Pandora’s Box club including actors Jack Nicholson and Peter Fonda. The crowd brings traffic to a stand still, causing gridlock. When police arrive, the protesters resist the order to disperse and begin rioting. Stills writes “For What It’s Worth”, based on accounts from people who were involved and witnessed the rioting. The track is recorded at Gold Star Studios on December 5, 1966, the same day that their self-titled debut album is released. Promo copies are rush released to radio just before Christmas, and the single quickly becomes a hit. Entering the Hot 100 at #90 on January 28, 1967, it peaks at #7 on March 25, 1967. Caught off guard by the songs’ popularity, Atlantic quickly scrambles to insert the song into re-pressings of Buffalo Springfield’s album reissued on March 6, 1967. Though it is not originally written as such, “For What It’s Worth” is adapted as an anthem of the counterculture and anti-war movements, and becomes an iconic song of the era. Over the years, it is featured in numerous films and television programs including “Coming Home”, “Forrest Gump” and “Tropic Thunder”. It is also covered by The Staple Singers, Lou Rawls, Cher, Miriam Makeba, Sergio Mendes & Brasil ‘66, The Jeff Healey Band and Keb’ Mo’. Buffalo Springfield’s original recording of “For What It’s Worth (Stop, Hey What’s That Sound)” is inducted into the Grammy Hall Of Fame in 2000.