Chris Wood (rock musician)

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Chris Wood
Chris-Wood.gif
Wood in 1969
Background information
Birth nameChristopher Gordon Blandford Wood
Born(1944-06-24)24 June 1944
Quinton, Birmingham, United Kingdom
Died12 July 1983(1983-07-12) (aged 39)
Birmingham, United Kingdom
Genres Rock, progressive rock, jazz fusion
Occupation(s)Musician
Instruments Saxophone, flute
Years active1963–1983
Associated actsShades of Blue, Locomotive, Traffic, Mason Capaldi Wood & Frog, Dr. John, Ginger Baker's Air Force
Website http://chriswood-lunarmusic.com/

Christopher Gordon Blandford Wood (24 June 1944 – 12 July 1983) was a British rock musician, most known as a founding member of the British rock band Traffic, along with Steve Winwood, Jim Capaldi, and Dave Mason.

United Kingdom Country in Europe

The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain, is a sovereign country located off the north-western coast of the European mainland. The United Kingdom includes the island of Great Britain, the north-eastern part of the island of Ireland, and many smaller islands. Northern Ireland is the only part of the United Kingdom that shares a land border with another sovereign state, the Republic of Ireland. Apart from this land border, the United Kingdom is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, with the North Sea to the east, the English Channel to the south and the Celtic Sea to the south-west, giving it the 12th-longest coastline in the world. The Irish Sea lies between Great Britain and Ireland. The United Kingdom's 242,500 square kilometres (93,600 sq mi) were home to an estimated 66.0 million inhabitants in 2017.

Rock music is a broad genre of popular music that originated as "rock and roll" in the United States in the early 1950s, and developed into a range of different styles in the 1960s and later, particularly in the United Kingdom and in the United States. It has its roots in 1940s and 1950s rock and roll, a style which drew heavily on the genres of blues, rhythm and blues, and from country music. Rock music also drew strongly on a number of other genres such as electric blues and folk, and incorporated influences from jazz, classical and other musical styles. Musically, rock has centered on the electric guitar, usually as part of a rock group with electric bass, drums, and one or more singers. Usually, rock is song-based music usually with a 4/4 time signature using a verse–chorus form, but the genre has become extremely diverse. Like pop music, lyrics often stress romantic love but also address a wide variety of other themes that are frequently social or political.

Traffic (band) English rock band

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. Their first three singles were "Paper Sun", "Hole in My Shoe", and "Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush".

Contents

Career

Born in Quinton, [1] a suburb of Birmingham, Chris Wood had an interest in music and painting from early childhood. Self-taught on flute and saxophone, which he commenced playing at the age of 15, he began to play locally with other Birmingham musicians who would later find international fame in music: Christine Perfect (later Christine McVie), Carl Palmer, Stan Webb, and Mike Kellie. [2] Wood played with Perfect in 1964 in the band Shades of Blue and with Kellie during 1965–1966 in the band Locomotive. [3]

Quinton, Birmingham suburb of Birmingham, England

Quinton is a suburb on the western edge of Birmingham, England. It is a Birmingham City Council ward within the Edgbaston formal district, and forms a part of the Birmingham Edgbaston parliamentary constituency.

Birmingham City in the English Midlands, 2nd highest population of UK cities

Birmingham is the second-most populous city in the United Kingdom, after London, and the most populous city in the English Midlands. It is also the most populous metropolitan district in the United Kingdom, with an estimated 1,137,123 inhabitants, and is considered the social, cultural, financial, and commercial centre of the Midlands. It is the main local government of the West Midlands conurbation, which is the third most populated urban area in the United Kingdom, with a population of 2,897,303 in 2017. The wider Birmingham metropolitan area is the second largest in the United Kingdom with a population of over 4.3 million. It is frequently referred to as the United Kingdom's "second city".

Flute musical instrument of the woodwind family

The flute is a family of musical instruments in the woodwind group. Unlike woodwind instruments with reeds, a flute is an aerophone or reedless wind instrument that produces its sound from the flow of air across an opening. According to the instrument classification of Hornbostel–Sachs, flutes are categorized as edge-blown aerophones. A musician who plays the flute can be referred to as a flute player, flautist, flutist or, less commonly, fluter or flutenist.

He attended the Stourbridge College of Art, [1] then the Birmingham School of Art (Painting Dept.) [1] and subsequently was awarded a grant to attend the Royal Academy of Art starting in December 1965. [1]

Aged 18, Wood joined the Steve Hadley Quartet, a jazz/blues group in 1962. [1] His younger sister Stephanie designed clothes for the Spencer Davis Group, based in Birmingham, and it was through her that Wood was first introduced to fellow Birmingham native Steve Winwood. [2] A well-known Birmingham club, the Elbow Room, was an after-hours haunt of local bands and musicians and it was here that Wood used to meet up with Winwood and Jim Capaldi. At the age of 18, Winwood abandoned the Spencer Davis Group at the height of their popularity and, along with Wood, Capaldi, and Dave Mason, formed Traffic. [4]

The Spencer Davis Group British band

The Spencer Davis Group are a British band formed in Birmingham in 1963, by Spencer Davis (guitar) with Steve Winwood (keyboards) and his brother, Muff Winwood and Pete York (drums). Their best known songs include the UK number ones "Somebody Help Me" and "Keep on Running", "I'm a Man" and "Gimme Some Lovin'", which reached #2 in the UK and #7 in the US.

Steve Winwood English musician

Stephen Lawrence Winwood is an English singer and musician whose genres include progressive rock, blue-eyed soul, rhythm and blues, blues rock, pop rock, and jazz. Though primarily a vocalist and keyboardist, Winwood also plays a wide variety of other instruments; on several of his solo albums he has played all instrumentation, including drums, mandolin, guitars, bass and saxophone.

To focus his fledgling band, Island Records' founder Chris Blackwell arranged for the four to retreat to an isolated farmhouse on the Berkshire Downs near Aston Tirrold. Initially without electricity, telephone or running water, The Cottage (as it became universally known) was so remote that a generator had to be installed to power the group's equipment. A concrete outdoor stage was built with the band's stage equipment set up to overlook the surrounding fields. After six months honing their music, Traffic released their first single, "Paper Sun". [4]

Christopher Percy Gordon Blackwell is an English businessman and former record producer, and the founder of Island Records, which has been called "one of Britain's great independent labels". According to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, to which Blackwell was inducted in 2001, he is “the single person most responsible for turning the world on to reggae music."

Aston Tirrold village and civil parish in South Oxfordshire district, South Oxfordshire, England

Aston Tirrold is a village and civil parish at the foot of the Berkshire Downs about 3 miles (5 km) southeast of Didcot. It was part of Berkshire until the 1974 boundary changes transferred it to Oxfordshire. The 2011 Census recorded the parish's population as 373.

"Paper Sun" was the British band Traffic's debut single, released in May 1967. It was a number 5 hit in the United Kingdom, number 4 in Canada, and peaked at number 70 on the Cash Box Top 100 chart in the United States. The song is famous for its time-typical sitar riff, played by Dave Mason, and its vocals by composer Steve Winwood. It was also released in an edited version on the U.S. version of the band's debut album, Mr. Fantasy.

In Traffic, Wood primarily played flute and saxophone, occasionally contributing keyboards, bass and vocals. Wood also co-wrote several of Traffic's songs, particularly during the earlier period of the band's recording career. His most notable contribution is as the co-writer (with Winwood and Capaldi), of "Dear Mr. Fantasy". [5]

Saxophone type of musical instrument of the woodwind family

The saxophone is a family of woodwind instruments. Saxophones are usually made of brass and played with a single-reed mouthpiece similar to that of the clarinet. Although most saxophones are made from brass, they are categorized as woodwind instruments, because sound is produced by an oscillating reed, traditionally made out of woody cane, rather than lips vibrating in a mouthpiece cup as with the brass instrument family. As with the other woodwinds, the pitch of the note being played is controlled by covering holes in the body tube to control the resonant frequency of the air column by changing the effective length of the tube.

Keyboard instrument class of musical instrument which is played using a musical keyboard

A keyboard instrument is a musical instrument played using a keyboard, a row of levers which are pressed by the fingers. The most common of these are the piano, organ, and various electronic keyboards, including synthesizers and digital pianos. Other keyboard instruments include celestas, which are struck idiophones operated by a keyboard, and carillons, which are usually housed in bell towers or belfries of churches or municipal buildings.

Guitar fretted string instrument

The guitar is a fretted musical instrument that usually has six strings. It is typically played with both hands by strumming or plucking the strings with either a guitar pick or the finger(s)/fingernails of one hand, while simultaneously fretting with the fingers of the other hand. The sound of the vibrating strings is projected either acoustically, by means of the hollow chamber of the guitar, or through an electrical amplifier and a speaker.

Wood introduced the 17th century traditional song "John Barleycorn" to the band after hearing it on The Watersons album Frost and Fire.[ citation needed ] It became the title song of their 1970 album, "John Barleycorn Must Die." [6]

Wood played with Jimi Hendrix in 1968, appearing on Electric Ladyland . When Winwood temporarily formed supergroup Blind Faith in 1969, Wood, Mason and Capaldi joined Mick Weaver otherwise known as Wynder K Frog, to become Mason, Capaldi, Wood and Frog. [7] He then went on to tour the United States with Dr. John, where he met singer Jeanette Jacobs (formerly of the 1960s girl group The Cake). Wood and Jacobs married in November 1972, at Kensington Registry Office, when he was 28 and she was 22. [8]

In 1969, Wood also appeared on the eponymous second album of Free and the Small Faces' The Autumn Stone . In 1970, Wood and his wife, along with Steve Winwood, joined Ginger Baker's Air Force, releasing one album before reforming Traffic. Wood remained with Traffic from the time of its 1970 reformation until its 1974 breakup. He played on John Martyn's Inside Out (1973). Throughout Traffic's life, Chris was also in demand as a session musician with his immediately identifiable flute or saxophone playing cropping up on albums by Rebop Kwaku Baah, Tyrone Downie, Fat Mattress, Gordon Jackson, Crawler, The Sky, Bobby Whitlock and others.

Through much of his life, Wood suffered from addiction to drugs and alcohol, which were initially attributed to a fear of flying. [2] Tortured by his wife's serial infidelity while immersing himself in musical experimentation, Chris turned to more drink and drugs for solace. When a liver disease was identified, indulgences were stopped, though the medication produced even more devastating effects that most people (and even close friends) wrongly interpreted, none knowing the internal agony Chris was living with. [4] His wife Jeanette, from whom he had separated, died in 1982, at the age of 30, from the effects of a seizure. Wood was profoundly affected by her death. [2]

Death and legacy

The death of two close friends, Free’s Paul Kossoff and former bandmate Rebop Kwaku Baah followed by that of his (by then, estranged) wife laid very heavy on Wood.

In 1983, Wood died of pneumonia at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham, England.

At the time, he was working on a solo album that was to be titled Vulcan, and had recorded material for the album over the previous few years, mostly in London at Island's Hammersmith Studio, The Fall Out Shelter, with engineer Terry Barham, as well as at Pathway Studios in London. [2] Following Wood's death, the Vulcan recordings remained in the possession of Wood's sister, Stephanie. In 2008, with the consent of Stephanie Wood a CD titled Vulcan, consisting of selected material Wood recorded while working on the incomplete album (plus an unreleased Traffic live performance of one of Wood's compositions), was released by Esoteric Recordings. [9]

Traffic recorded one additional studio album, Far from Home (1994), after Wood's death. The album is dedicated to him, and the central figure on its front cover is a stick figure of a man playing flute.

In June 2013, on Wood's 69th birthday, the Chris Wood Estate (run by his sister, Stephanie) announced that a commemorative box set was being prepared – in collaboration with contemporary music archivists HiddenMasters, to properly honour Wood's life in music. Among other music, the set would include the album Vulcan as Chris originally sequenced it in 1978. The box set Evening Blue was finally released three and a half years later in early 2017, in a special deluxe first edition limited to 1000 copies. [1] [10]

Discography

Solo

With Traffic

With Ginger Baker's Air Force

With others

Notes

  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Stephanie Wood
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 Ellie Iglio and Stephanie Wood, Chris Wood Biography; www.winwoodfans.com.
  3. Biography of Locomotive; www.brumbeat.net.
  4. 1 2 3 Dan Ropek, author of Chris Wood biography
  5. Wood's contributions to certain songs may have initially been overlooked. For example, some songwriting credits on Traffic changed between the original LP issue and the more recent CD reissues. The credits for "Vagabond Virgin" changed from Mason/Capaldi to Mason/Wood, and the credits for "Who Knows What Tomorrow May Bring?" changed from Winwood/Capaldi to Winwood/Capaldi/Wood. See Stephen Smith (ed.), The Smiling Phases Compendium: Traffic; www.winwoodfans.com. BMI lists "Who Knows What Tomorrow May Bring?" as by Winwood/Capaldi/Wood, while Allmusic (page retrieved 09-06-21) still lists "Vagabond Virgin" as being co-written by Capaldi and Mason. Matthew Greenwald, Review of "Vagabond Virgin"; www.allmusic.co.
  6. Dan Ropek
  7. Mick Weaver History, The Musician's Olympus.
  8. "Christopher G B Wood, "England and Wales Birth Registration Index, 1837-2008" — FamilySearch.org".
  9. Esoteric Recordings News Release Archived October 15, 2008, at the Wayback Machine , October, 2008; www.cherryred.co.uk.
  10. "Welcome -".

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