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No. 75: Buffalo Springfield, ‘For What It’s Worth’ – Top 100 Classic Rock Songs

Buffalo Springfield For What It's WorthDespite the fact that they were only originally active for an approximate two year span (1966 to 1968), the impact of Buffalo Springfield‘s song ‘For What It’s Worth’ continues to resonate today, almost 50 years later.

And though Buffalo Springfield wrote many other memorable songs, none will ever outshine the impact of this powerful track. So of course we had to include it on our list of the Top 100 Classic Rock songs.

Released approximately 12 years into the Vietnam War, the song has often been interpreted to be an anti-war anthem, when in fact the track was originally written by Stephen Stills as a reaction to escalating unrest between City of Los Angeles law enforcement and club-goers on the Sunset Strip.

The unrest stemmed from law enforcement officers, bowing to pressure from both business owners and home owners in the area, chose to begin enforcing a strict 10:00 p.m. curfew that dated back to 1939 in efforts to curb the amount of people hanging out on the Strip.

The Los Angeles County board of supervisors decided that getting tough was the best tactic, and rescinded the “youth permits” of twelve of the clubs frequented by youth on the Sunset Strip, deeming them off-limits to anybody under 21 years of age.

The ‘Sunset Strip riots’ were born when the amount of youths arrested for violation of the 10:00 p.m. curfew began escalating. There were six consecutive weekends where youth and young adults protested the enforcement of the bylaw. However it was the first night that the demonstrations were held (Nov. 12, 1966) that saw the most damage done. Before the night was through, store windows had been smashed, a city bus disabled and more than 200 arrests were made.

‘For What It’s Worth’ peaked at the No. 7 position on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart in 1967, and has since been covered by the likes of Keb Mo, Rush and Ozzy Osbourne. It has also been sampled by hip-hop group Public Enemy for their track ‘He Got Game.’

The Next Song Uses a Bad Word

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Watch Buffalo Springfield Perform ‘For What It’s Worth’

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