Guide to British Music of the 1960s

 

Traffic

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Guitar/organ/vocals- Steve Winwood, drums- Jim Capaldi, flute/saxophone - Chris Wood, guitar - Dave Mason

Traffic were the real originators of "getting it together in the country", actually in Berkshire where the poppies grow. The band was formed in 1967. Winwood had previously experienced phenomenal success with the Spencer Davis Group. With a portable generator powering their amps, they rehearsed songs for what would become their debut album Mr Fantasy. Winwood and Capaldi had met at the Elbow Room in Birmingham and had played live with Wood and Mason. Jim Capaldi had played in a number of local bands and had recorded with the Hellions while Winwood was about to leave Spencer Davis. Dave Mason had played with Capaldi in Deep Feeling. Deep Feeling had started to build a following around Birmingham and Winwood often joined the band to jam onstage.

The choice of name forced another band to change their name from Traffic Jam and Status Quo has been using the new name ever since.

The first single Paper Sun reached number 4 in the UK during the "summer of love" in 1967. This was written by Capaldi and Winwood and featured Mason playing sitar, a move which ensured acceptance at the time. The follow-up, Dave Mason's Hole in My Shoe was also highly successful, reaching number 3,  and even spawned a hit cover version many years later by Neil of The Young Ones. This track featured Mason on mellotron. Traffic was already showing a different way of performing to what people were used to with extended jamming on stage and more improvisation. They were at the forefront of turning music from pop to "serious" art form. This helped them to secure success in America.

The band was then asked to provide a theme song for the film Here We Go Round The Mulberry Bush. The film starred Barry Evan and Julie Christie and was shot in 1960s Stevenage. After Here We Go Round The Mulberry Bush had reached number xx in the charts, Mason left the band leaving Traffic to continue as three-piece. However, despite success in the US, the band split in 1969 shortly after the release of the second album, Traffic.

Steve Winwood joined Eric Clapton, Rick Grech and Ginger Baker in Blind Faith but this "supergroup" lasted less than one year. Capaldi, Mason and Wood continued as Wooden Frog but this also folded. Traffic reformed in 1970. There was a series of albums during the 1970s before another split in 1974. Steve Winwood became a highly successful solo artist and Capaldi had a solo career and was a strong songwriter, reaching number 4 in the singles charts with the cover of Love Hurts. Traffic reformed again in 1994 without Chris Wood who had died in 1983.

Jim Capaldi died from cancer in January 2005.

To be completed

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