This multi-talented West Midlands group gained international success in the late 1960s and early 1970s, particularly in the USA where as a three piece they attracted a huge following. In Britain, they are remembered mostly for some memorable and ground-breaking singles and albums that scored high chart placings.
Traffic was formed when Steve Winwood, who was the focal point of the Spencer Davis Group decided to move beyond the restrictions of the group and form a band with three other Birmingham area musicians. Jim Capaldi had formed his first band at the age of fourteen and was soon recording for Pye records with the Hellions. Shortly thereafter, he was gathering rave reviews in a band called Deep Feeling which he shared with fellow Traffic founder Dave Mason & Family founding member Poli Palmer. The band played rock & blues and locally were in a league of their own.
The cottage is an hour and a half from London. But it's a thousand light years from Soho Square. Henley is like driving through a postcard, and then you pass through dozens of little English hamlets with names as heavy as a slice of farmhouse bread; Nettlebed, Wallingford, Uffington, Didcot.
When we get to Aston Tirrold, we stop in at the pub to ask directions to the cottage. The owners are a friendly, florid old couple, who invite us in while the husband phones the cottage to see if we are permitted to go up.
We cross the main road just outside tiny Aston-Tirrold and dip down into the dirt track that leads to the cottage. There are really deep ruts in the road, and when it rains, it is impossible to take the upper road at all. Everyone who drives up for the first time stops here. Can this really be the road? Jim Capaldi had mentioned the white farm gate giving us directions to get up here. You are reassured when you see it, it's the right road, everything is cool. Bristling hedges, moldly wooden fences; behind a clump of bushes there are some white wooden beehives, and, on the other side, vast fields recede endlessly into space. Weird, impossible perspectives curl around the horizon; covered hills interrupt infinity.
Traffic is dead, but the corpse is lively. Though Steve Winwood has split to find his own way, the rest of Traffic is carrying on with a new name, a returnee from Traffic past, and a new member. New name is "Mason, Capaldi, Wood & Frog," reflecting the new lineup: Dave Mason, bass and vocals; Jim Capaldi, drums and vocals; Chris Wood, reeds; and Mick Weaver, leader of the Wynder K. Frog band, on organ, in place of Winwood.
Traffic has broken up. The announcement, made in London this week, came at a time when Traffic had finally broken through in the United States.
The group's second album, entitled Traffic, made a spectacular one hundred position leap on the trade charts this week, moving over 125,00 copies in five days. It is expected to be the final album by the group. In addition, there are strong rumors that one Traffic member, Steve Winwood, is to record an album with ex-Cream guitarist Eric Clapton. Member of the trio were unavailable for comment on the split, which was confirmed by Traffic's manager, Chris Blackwell.