Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Richie Furay also is a longtime pastor at a church in Colorado. (Courtesy Shanna Lemke)

Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Richie Furay also is a longtime pastor at a church in Colorado. (Courtesy Shanna Lemke)

Richie Furay finds faith in music, religion

Some hard-partying, self-centered performers finally experience a metaphorical come-to-Jesus moment. Richie Furay had one quite literally. His first wake-up call occurred in 1971, in Paris with his country-rock combo Poco, when he combined Champagne and downers in an all-night revelry and nearly overdosed.
“All I can say is, when I woke up that next morning, I was very, very thankful to have woken up,” says Furay, who appears at Yoshi’s Thursday.

Then, in 1974, as his marriage was crumbling, he became a born-again Christian, then a pastor of the Calvary Chapel in Broomfield, Colo, where he still preaches to his 200-plus congregation every Sunday.

“It wasn’t anything that I planned,” says Furay, who patched things up with his wife Nancy; the couple recently celebrated their 49th wedding anniversary. But he was truly running amok back then.

“I was consumed with being a rock and roll star, like Stephen and Neil — you fill in the last names,” he says. “But I was neglecting my first responsibility, to my wife. I thought, ‘She’s driving a nice car, she’s got nice clothes, we live in a nice house, she’s got everything.’ But what she didn’t have was me.”

In the mid-‘70s, Furay had left Buffalo Springfield, then Poco after penning signature tunes like “Good Feelin’ to Know,” and – aided by David Geffen – formed the Souther Hillman Furay supergroup. But when Chris Hillman recommended a new side guitarist named Al Perkins, Furay said no.

“Because he had a fish sticker on his guitar that said ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and I wasn’t on a spiritual track at that time,” he says. “But Chris won out, and Al would invite me over to dinner, ask me to pray. No. Dinner? Pray? No. But one day, I woke up and thought, ‘Tonight you’re going to do it.’ And I accepted Christ into my life that night.”

The Rock and Roll Hall of Famer started with a home Bible study in California, then assumed his own ministry in Colorado. And that was it, he thought. His musical career was over. Yet in 1996, he penned enough worship-oriented material for an entire solo album, “In My Father’s House.” Gradually, his songs grew more secular, leading to his latest twangfest “Hand in Hand,” featuring autobiographical Poco-era tales like “We Were the Dreamers.”

With his understanding that religion and country rock can peacefully coexist, it’s hard to resist asking if Pastor Richie blends them into a “Don’t take it to the limit with a witchy woman” sermon.

“Of course I do!” he replies, laughing. “One time I was rattling off lyrics to about three different songs. I can’t say it comes up every Sunday. But it comes up a lot!”


Richie Furay
Where: Yoshi’s, 510 Embarcadero West, Oakland
When: 8 p.m. Aug. 20
Tickets: $34 to $63
Contact: (510) 238-9200,
Buffalo SpringfieldCalvary ChapelColoradoHand in HandPocoRichie Furay

Just Posted

Cabernet Sauvignon grapes sit in a container after being crushed at Smith-Madrone Winery in St. Helena, Calif. on Thursday, Sept. 9, 2021. (Courtesy Smith-Madrone Winery)
San Francisco’s ‘Champagne problems’ — Wine industry suffers supply chain woes

‘Everywhere you turn, things that were easy are no longer easy’

Glasses behind the bar at LUNA in the Mission District on Friday, Oct. 15, 2021. Glassware is just one of the many things restaurants have had trouble keeping in stock as supply chain problems ripple outward. (Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner)
SF restaurants face product shortages and skyrocketing costs

‘The supply chain crisis has impacted us in almost every way imaginable’

A Giants fans hangs his head in disbelief after the Dodgers won the NLDS in a controversial finish to a tight Game 5. (Chris Victorio/Special to The Examiner)
Giants dream season ends at the hands of the Dodgers, 2-1

A masterful game comes down to the bottom of the ninth, and San Francisco came up short

<strong>Workers with Urban Alchemy and the Downtown Streets Team clean at Seventh and Market streets on Oct. 12. <ins>(Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner)</ins> </strong>
Why is it so hard to keep San Francisco’s streets clean?

Some blame bureaucracy, others say it’s the residents’ fault

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi — seen in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday — touted Congressional Democrats’ infrastructure bill in San Francisco on Thursday. (Stefani Reynolds/The New York Times)
Pelosi touts infrastructure bill as it nears finish line

Climate change, social safety net among major priorities of Democrats’ 10-year funding measure

Most Read