Traffic
(1967-2004)

group and band

c. 37

Traffic were an English rock band, formed in Birmingham, in April 1967 by Steve Winwood, Jim Capaldi, Chris Wood and Dave Mason. They began as a psychedelic rock group and diversified their sound through the use of instruments such as keyboards, like the Mellotron and harpsichord, sitar, and various reed instruments, and by incorporating jazz and improvisational techniques in their music. Initially, they released three non-album singles, including "Paper Sun", "Hole in My Shoe", and "Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush" in early and mid 1967. Their first full album Mr. Fantasy was released in December of that year, and while it was never released as a single, the track "Dear Mr. Fantasy" from the album became a signature song for the band. Dave Mason quit the band shortly after the release of the first album. He rejoined briefly during the recording sessions for the band's self-titled second album, but was in and out of the group at various times over the next several years. The three-piece Traffic (with Mason appearing in limited capacity) released one more album, 1969's Last Exit, which contained only one side of new studio material. They disbanded in 1969 when Winwood co-founded the short-lived supergroup Blind Faith, with Eric Clapton, Ginger Baker, and Ric Grech. They then reunited in 1970 to release the album John Barleycorn Must Die, their highest charting album in the U.S. In 1971, the band reshuffled the lineup for the album The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys, with Capaldi moving to secondary percussionist and backing vocalist as the band added drummer Jim Gordon, percussionist Rebop Kwaku Baah, and bassist Ric Grech to the official line-up. For their next album, 1973's Shoot Out at the Fantasy Factory, Gordon and Grech were replaced by members of the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section, Roger Hawkins and David Hood respectively. For their next studio album, 1974's When the Eagle Flies, Capaldi had returned to the drum kit, bassist Rosko Gee had replaced Hood, and Rebop Kwaku Baah had left. The band broke up shortly thereafter. A partial reunion, with Winwood and Capaldi alongside several new musicians, took place in 1994. In the intervening years Steve Winwood had a successful solo career, with several hit singles and albums during the 1980s. Dave Mason had his own solo career that produced a few minor hit songs in the 1970s, played as a session musician with a number of bands, and was briefly a member of Fleetwood Mac in 1995 and Ringo Starr & His All Starr Band in 1997. Jim Capaldi also had some minor solo hits in the 1970s in his native UK but was less successful abroad. During the 1990s, Capaldi primarily worked as a songwriter, working with Santana and The Eagles. Chris Wood did sporadic session work after the breakup of Traffic in 1974, and died in 1983. Traffic were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004.

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