Friends and family will gather Thursday to honor the late Gordon “Buffy” Spaulding, a local musician whom many friends credit with sustaining the local music scene in Rutland during the 1960s and 1970s.
A celebration of life memorial for Spaulding will be held from 4 to 8 p.m. Thursday at the Rutland Loyal Order of Moose Lodge. Spaulding, who passed away May 30 at the age of 69, is fondly remembered for his impact on local music and the musicians he helped.
“He was very instrumental in nurturing the local music scene, especially to those that were younger than him,” said friend Wayne Canney, who included himself in the category of younger musicians that Spaulding helped in the day.
Spaulding started a band, the Rutland Rejects, in the late 1960s while he was still in high school. After he graduated, he started a music shop, Melody Music, out of the back of his father’s TV and radio store.
Friends remember Spaulding’s music shop as an oasis, a place where he would teach younger musicians how to play rock’n’roll.
Tom Phillips said Spaulding once surprised Phillips’ high school band at a gig with a van full of equipment for them to use.
“He used to take us to Saratoga to concerts,” Phillips said, recalling one particular trip that ended prematurely. “All the traffic coming out of there was clogged up so he decided to take a shortcut through the golf course. We got stuck in a sand trap. We had to get a tow truck.”
Phillips said during Thursday’s memorial, there will be time for friends and family to share their best stories about Spaulding.
“They’re a lot of great stories. Buffy was quite a character,” he said.
In addition to the event, Phillips and Canney plan to continue working on a project chronicling the history of the local music scene that they and Spaulding had started. “I think the most important thing is to chronicle that era and to try to put some faces to what went on during the time,” Canney said. “Everybody knows what was happening on the national scene, but I want to have a sort of parallel byway of what was going on during the same time in Rutland.”
The memorial will also feature an open mic and plenty of music.
“We’re going to be doing some of the old songs — Buffy’s ‘Hard Working Man’ and any of the other songs that some of the old timers can remember,” Phillips said.
Spaulding’s younger sister, Betty Miller, said any memorial for her brother would have to include music.
“He used to have concerts all the time, and he always wanted to have that one-more concert, so I’m hoping the gathering will be that, his one last concert,” she said.
Miller said their childhood home was full of music, starting with piano lessons.
“Our father always played guitar and sang old country songs and played the piano,” she said. “When Buff was a teenager, our father gave him an electric guitar. Our mother was not happy about that, but that’s where it all started. We always had music in our lives.”
Despite Spaulding’s rebellious streak, Miller remembered her brother as her protector.
“When I was little, he used to take me to the football games at Rutland High School,” she said. “We would sit next to the band and he would put his hands over my ears to protect my ears.”
“He had a big heart, I’ll tell you that,” Phillips said. “He helped a lot of people, and music was his life.”