Traffic was a highly acclaimed English rock band encompassing a wide range of styles that became famous during the late 1960s and early 1970s. Formed in Birmingham in April 1967, the original lineup consisted of Dave Mason (guitar, sitar, bass, vocals), Steve Winwood (guitar, keyboards, bass, vocals), singer, songwriter, and drummer Jim Capaldi (August 2, 1944 - January 28, 2005), and flutist, saxophonist, and keyboardist Chris Wood (June 24, 1944 - July 12, 1983). Traffic began as a psychedelic rock band, gradually incorporating elements of folk rock, progressive rock, jazz, and soul, and further developed its unique sound through the use of such instruments as the Mellotron, harpsichord, sitar, tambura, flute, violin, and saxophone. In 1967, the band signed with Island Records and released its debut album, "Mr. Fantasy." Traffic disbanded briefly in 1969 and Winwood co-founded the short-lived supergroup, Blind Faith, along with Ginger Baker, Eric Clapton, and Ric Grech. At around the same time, Winwood and Wood also helped co-found Ginger Baker's Air Force, another short-lived act which lasted through 1971. Traffic reunited in 1970 and released its critically acclaimed album, "John Barleycorn Must Die." The band continued performing and recording through its final breakup in 1974, with many personnel changes.
Traffic made its debut in 1967 on both the U.S. and U.K. charts with the psychedelic Capaldi/Winwood-penned "Paper Sun," a Top 5 U.K. hit followed later that year by the Mason-penned "Hole In My Shoe" in which the flute and sitar are featured prominently throughout. In 1968, the band had a hit with the original version of "Feelin' Alright?," a classic rock standard written by Mason from the band's 1968 eponymous album later made famous by Joe Cocker. Both versions are featured in the soundtrack to the 2012 movie, "Flight." Traffic had its biggest hits in the U.S. with "Empty Pages" (1970) and "Gimme Some Lovin' - Pt. 1" (1971), the latter of which is a remake of the 1966 blue-eyed soul smash by the Spencer Davis Group that Winwood had led while still in his mid teens. The band's other hits included "Medicated Goo" (1969), "Rock & Roll Stew ... Part 1" (1972), and "Walking In The Wind" (1974). Other songs for which Traffic became famous include "The Low Spark Of High Heeled Boys," a 12-minute progressive/jazz rock work written by Capaldi and Winwood from the 1971 album of the same name featuring extended instrumental solo passages by each band member.
Traffic's numerous honors and accolades include being inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2004. In addition to their work with the band, Steve Winwood, Dave Mason, and Jim Capaldi also pursued solo careers along with various other musical projects. For much of his career, Chris Wood was a highly sought-after session musician who played with Free, The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Small Faces, and many other bands until his life was tragically cut short at age 39 by pneumonia. In 1994, Winwood and Capaldi reunited and toured as Traffic, also releasing an album, "Far From Home."
- For more info about Steve Winwood and his work with the Spencer Davis Group, Traffic, and Blind Faith, visit stevewinwood.com.
- For more info about Dave Mason's career milestones and his current touring schedule, visit davemasonmusic.com.
- The Guardian remembers Traffic drummer Jim Capaldi.
- uDiscovermusic.com pays tribute to Traffic multi-instrumentalist Chris Wood.
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- Empty Pages 1970
- Gimme Some Lovin'-Pt. 1 1971
(This song was previously a hit for the Spencer Davis Group (1966) and later also became a hit for Kongas (1978) and the Blues Brothers (1980).)
- Paper Sun 1967
- Rock & Roll Stew Part 1 1972
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