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People Who Died: Dale 'Buffin' Griffin by John Convertino 

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Dale "Buffin" Griffin (Mott the Hoople), and others

click to enlarge John Convertino of Calexico on Dale "Buffin" Griffin (Mott the Hoople), and others.
  • John Convertino of Calexico on Dale "Buffin" Griffin (Mott the Hoople), and others.

Man, these are some strange days, I feel like I am living in a bad movie, like this can't be really happening, but it is.

And yes, a year of great loss, so many of the very best songwriters and musicians. It's hard for me to single out one for sure David Bowie and Leon Russell were two artists who had a huge impact on me. When my family moved to Tulsa, Okla., my sister Charisse got Leon's first record "Song for You." I was just a kid, but that record was played a lot in our house. My father was a pianist and worked for a music store. There was a lot of excitement with my brother and sister when my dad came home from work one day and said he sold two Steinway grand pianos to Leon Russell. Even more excitement when he told us he was going to his house to tune them. We had all his records, the music I grew up on.

Around that same time in the early '70s, David Bowie's Ziggy Stardust was a record I played everyday after school. I listened to it with headphones so I could crank it loud, that record is probably what made me want to be a drummer more than any other. Later when I was playing in cover bands, "Let's Dance" was another huge favorite, but I loved them all—Low, Station to Station. We had them all, and listened to them all. Two days before Bowie died my son and I heard a review of his new record on NPR, they played a minute or so of one of the songs, I totally got chills, and almost had to pull the car over.

Buffin, the drummer of Mott the Hoople, died this year. He produced a John Peel session that Giant Sand played in, I think, 1989. After I set my kit up and he heard me play, he said, "finally a drummer who knows how to tune his kit." He was really cool with us, and it was such an honor to work with him.

After the election, which totally knocked me out, and I am still trying to find my footing I find that listening to Leonard Cohen, David Bowie, Prince, Leon Russell, Merle Haggard, and Mott the Hoople all give me hope and strength to get through the day, bring back memories and inspire me to keep on living.

— John Convertino

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