Poco, under their original name, Pogo, performed a two-week stint at the Troubadour in West Hollywood from November 19th-December 1st, 1968. This was the band’s third appearance at the venue in less than two months. Their first took place at a “Hoot Night” (the Troubadour’s amateur night) in mid-October, 1 billed as Pogo (a name taken from the cartoon character created by Walt Kelly).2 They reappeared on the 24th as a fill-in for a band that had cancelled, this time billed as R.F.D.3 Then, a month later, reverting back to the name Pogo, the band was booked for a ten-day run around the Thanksgiving holiday opening for singer-songwriter Biff Rose. These shows became legendary and put Pogo on the map. As one reviewer put it: “[Pogo was] truly excellent. The first exciting new group I’ve seen in ages. Anywhere.” 4
Formed in the Fall of 1968, Pogo included guitarists Richie Furay and Jim Messina formerly of Buffalo Springfield, Rusty Young on pedal steel, drummer George Grantham, and bassist Randy Meisner, who was described in a Rolling Stone article about Pogo (and Randy’s first-ever mention in the magazine) as “a Nebraska boy who plays bass and sings most of the songs demanding a high range.” 5
“Pogo is a group of five young, clean, cute men-boys who smile and play the most amazingly tight country rock and sing in beautiful harmonies.”Judy Sims, DISC & MUSIC ECHO, November 30, 1968
“The Sound We Have All Been Waiting For”
Randy recalls playing the Troubadour:
“Every time [Poco] played the Troubadour it was packed, people hanging out of the rafters. We’d go up to Doug Weston’s office, have a shot of tequila and some beer, then hooting and hollering we’d run out, which is really great for a group just before you go onstage, like a football team psyching-up. By the time we’d hit the stage the whole audience would be yelling. We’d have ‘em cranked before we even started playing. When you know the audience is with you, it gives you that extra boost of natural energy. It was just so much fun. Some nights Jimmy would have his dog Jasper with him, and he actually came on stage with us a few times.”Randy Meisner, DESPERADOS by John Einarson, 2001
The following description of the Troubadour shows, as well as the setlist, were compiled from multiple reviews:
Consequently So Long
Dreaming Of Denver
“Richie Furay shares lead vocals with Randy Meisner, bassist for the group (Furay plays rhythm guitar, as does Messina). Rounding out Pogo is George Grantham on drums.
“All are capable musicians and the singing combination of Furay and Meisner is terrific. Both have high, flexible voices which melt together in delightful harmonies and separate for strong solos.”Los Angeles Times, November 22, 1968
The band opened with a “driving” version of “Consequently So Long” (referred to in the review as “Long Time Coming”).
“Using a slide steel guitar, played by Young, Pogo opened with a driving ‘Long Time Coming.’Daily Sundial, (California State University/Northridge), November 27, 1968
Turning their attention to the Los Angeles smog situation, the group sang, ‘Dreaming Of Denver’ with Furay and Meisner singing lead.”
Michael Etchison from the Los Angeles Herald-Examiner noted that the band had expanded their material since their one-night-stand a month earlier.
“They are still a seamless combination of rock and country, but there is a bit more variety now.Los Angeles Herald-Examiner, November 1968
“Several songs are Everly Brothers-dreamy, especially ‘Today my First Love Has Arrived.’ ‘Crazy Eyes’ started out that way, then got very high-powered.” 6
Closing with “Short Changed,” Pogo proved “they won’t be unknown for long…They are too good to remain anonymous.”
Most of the songs from their set would eventually appear on their debut album, Pickin’ Up The Pieces, with the exception of “Dreaming Of Denver,” which remains unreleased, and “Crazy Eyes,” which would show up five years later on an album by the same name.
In the audience on opening night was Rick Nelson, who’d attended as the guest of his producer, John Boylan.
Randy recalled seeing Rick at their rehearsals.
“Opening night, who should come down to see us rehearse at the Troubadour but Rick Nelson. Man, I was so excited to meet him!” 7
Seeing Poco had a huge effect on Rick. When Randy left the group a few months later, Rick asked him to join his new band, which eventually became The Stone Canyon Band.
Also in the audience was Glenn Frey, who had definite memories of his future Eagles bandmate:
“When I saw him my tongue just fell right out on the table. I just couldn’t believe that anybody could look, sing, and play cool all at the same time. It was too much for me.”Glenn Frey, THE LONG RUN by Marc Shapiro, 1995
Below are the only known (at least to me) photos of Poco at the Troubadour.
Notice the artwork on the floor between Richie and Randy in the photo below (a guitar and a porcelain doll). This was part of a collage made for the band by fan Kathy Johnson. It would later be used for the cover of Poco’s third album, From The Inside (1971). 8
This photo shows Randy playing his gold Fender bass and wearing a short-sleeved shirt, vest, and striped pants with a belt.
Randy must have liked these striped pants because he wore them often during this period, going back to gigs, and television appearances, with The Poor a few months earlier. They were usually worn with a matching maroon turtleneck (below). The pants came from The Clothes Horse in Scottsbluff, Nebraska, a shop owned by Randy and his (then) wife, Jennifer, from 1968-1971. 9
This Billboard ad from December 28, 1968 includes snippets of reviews from their gigs at the Troubadour:
Bonnie Chaikind, Daily Sundial (California State Univ/Northridge), November 27, 1968
(Rusty Young is incorrectly referred to as Randy Young):
Judy Sims, Disc & Music Echo (UK), November 27, 1968:
Pete Johnson, Los Angeles Times, November 22, 1968:
On November 16th, 2018, Randy attended a 50th anniversary celebration commemorating Poco’s legendary opening at the Troubadour. Richie and his band performed in a concert that was filmed and is now available in a CD & DVD collection on Richie’s website (Randy did not perform, but gave a short interview that appears in the DVD.)
Below: Randy Meisner and Richie Furay at the 50th Anniversary celebration (Photo by David Stone):
“Our first opening night was just incredible. So many people…We had a really good time.”Randy Meisner, November 16, 2018
1The Hoot night appearance is mentioned in a Los Angeles Herald-Examiner article from November 1968 (via Jerry Fuentes’ Deliverin website), as well as Richie Furay’s memoir, Pickin’ Up The Pieces (2006). Hoot nights were every Monday at the Troubadour. The date of this hoot night was most likely October 14th. The Troubadour was closed September 30-October 8 due to remodeling.
2 In April 1969, after Randy had already left the band, Walt Kelly threatened to sue Pogo over the use of his character’s name. Instead of fighting him, the band changed one letter in the name and began calling themselves Poco. (Furay, 2006)
3 Richie Furay explains the origin of the name R.F. D. in his memoir, Pickin’ Up The Pieces: “The name was probably inspired by Mayberry R.F.D., a television series that had aired its first episode in September; it was a spin-off from The Andy Griffith Show. In that context, R.F.D. meant ‘Rural Free Delivery.’ The letters were also Dickie’s initials—Richard Franklin Davis—but that didn’t stop some people from thinking it stood for ‘Richie Furay’s Dream.’”
4Judy Sims, Disc & Music Echo, November 27, 1968
5 Jerry Hopkins, “Hollywood Hillbillies: What’s Old Is New,” Rolling Stone, March 1, 1969
6Los Angeles Herald-Examiner, November 1968.
7 Desperados: The Roots Of Country Rock by John Einarson, 2001
8 Richie Furay, Pickin’ Up The Pieces: The Heart And Soul Of Country Rock Pioneer Richie Furay, 2006
9 Correspondence with Jennifer Meisner.
Thank You Jessica! This is absolutely amazing! I appreciate all your hard work in putting this, & other articles together! 🤗♥️🌹
You’re very welcome, and thank you. Great to hear from you!