Bruce Palmer / Sept 9, 1946 - Oct 1, 2004

One of the great left-field albums came from former Buffalo Springfield bassist Bruce Palmer, with his seemingly unmarketable (at the time) Eastern-tinged folk-jazz oddity The Cycle Is Complete, released in 1970 on Verve to little fanfare and nearly no promotion.

Palmer's only album as a leader, he was given complete artistic control only for him to come up with an unexpected psychedelic improvisational (almost in the realm of "spiritual-jazz" a la Pharoah Sanders) spacey folk record with members of Kaleidoscope, Caribbean percussionist Big Black and young Rick James (billed as "Rick Matthews"). Verve had no idea what to do with it and were so pissed off that they refused to promote it, effectively sending Palmer into retirement, with this masterpiece his "fuck you" statement to the record industry. Over forty years later it is considered a lost classic and has been reissued several times over. (Note, the CD and vinyl editions may have alternate mixes).

From Toronto, Palmer was a member of an early incarnation of Steppenwolf (Jack London & the Sparrows) before joining the Mynah Birds in '65 with his longtime friends Neil Young and Rick James. The group was signed to Motown and were about to release their first single when they discovered that James was a draft-dodger and the release was halted and the band broke up.

In '66 Palmer and Young traveled to the Los Angeles in Young's hearse in search of Neil's old friend Stephen Stills. They formed the Buffalo Springfield and had some national acclaim and were very popular in LA. Palmer was deported in '67 and soon after the band split. Upon return to the States Palmer briefly joined Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young in '69 as bassist before being replaced.

After The Cycle Is Complete he returned to Canada, retired save for a few gigs in Toronto with local bands. He last appeared on Young's 1983 Trans album and played with Buffalo Springfield Revisited in the mid-'80s before fading out of sight.

Tagged: bassist, Bruce Palmer, Celebrate Icons, classic albums, folk, jazz, Los Angeles, Neil Young, psych, Rick James, rock

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