The Aug. 10 edition of Greasy Tracks featured an interview with and the music of Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee Dave Mason.
One of the founding members of Traffic in 1967, Mason penned one of the band’s most memorable songs, “Feelin’ Alright?”, before embarking on a successful solo career which included five gold and one platinum release in the 1970s.
Mason appears on Aug. 20 with Hot Tuna at College Street Music Hall in New Haven.
Despite all of Traffic’s potential, the band was an on-again, off-again enterprise throughout the later 1960s. Along with keyboardist/guitarist Steve Winwood, drummer Jim Capaldi and saxophonist/flutist Chris Wood, the band released its psychedelic-tinged debut, but Mason would leave due to artistic differences.
He was back in the fold as the band started recording its follow-up, in early 1968. Mason wrote half of the tracks that would be on the self-titled album, but would again be out of the band before the year was out.
He would ultimately return for a third go-round in 1971 when he was on stage for six concerts with the band, two of which were recorded and tracks used for the Welcome To The Canteen album that came out later in the year, but by this time, Mason’s ties to the band were forever severed.
During splits from Traffic, Mason had focused on songwriting, playing out with numerous musicians and doing sessions, including playing on “Street Fighting Man” with the Rolling Stones; Jimi Hendrix’s cover of Bob Dylan’s “All Along The Watchtower” and on numerous songs from George Harrison’s epic All Things Must Pass.
Linking up with Delaney and Bonnie for their 1969 tour of Europe which included Eric Clapton and George Harrison in the lineup, Mason along with the crack session players including drummer Jim Gordon, bassist Carl Radle and keyboardist Bobby Whitlock, were enlisted by Clapton for his post-Delaney and Bonnie band, Derek and the Dominos.
Mason would record one track with the Clapton-led lineup before coming to the realization that, due to in part to Clapton’s all-consuming drug problems, little was happening with the band and he would be better off going solo.
Literally using the who’s who of West Coast session players, Mason’s debut, Alone Together featured the single, “Only You Know and I Know.” He followed with Dave Mason & Cass Elliott nine months later. Following Headkeeper and It’s Like You Never Left, Mason, now with Columbia Records, released Dave Mason which featured the single “Show Me Some Affection” and reached No. 25 in the charts.
In 1977, his Let It Flow album featured the single “We Just Disagree” which went to No. 12 in the charts as the album became Mason’s biggest commercial success.
In 2004, Mason was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a founding member of Traffic.