Tragic Magic: The Life of Traffic's Chris Wood

Dan Ropek

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Traffic was the most enigmatic British band of their day. Formed in early 1967 by Chris Wood, Steve Winwood, Jim Capaldi and Dave Mason, they rejected the bright lights of London, in favor of a run-down, supposedly haunted, cottage in the country a place to live communally and write music.

With Chris especially intent on channeling the vibes of England痴 landscape into their sound, days would be spent getting high, exploring, playing and working in varying proportions. Against all odds this eccentric model paid off songs such as 泥ear Mr. Fantasy and 笛ohn Barleycorn Must Die would lift Traffic into the upper echelons of the rock world.

As they brushed shoulders with Jimi Hendrix, The Beatles and the Grateful Dead, and with Dave dropping in and out of the band, Traffic痴 music evolved from a synthesis of Steve痴 innate musicality, Jim痴 atmospheric lyrics and Chris痴 special brand of congenial mysticism. Record sales boomed and tours carried them back and forth across the Atlantic, everything seemed to be going to plan a dreamlike fairy tale come true.

But for Chris, a toll would be exacted.

Amid the clashing egos, wearing road trips, stressful break ups and a complex personal life, he vacillated precariously between bursts of exquisite creativity and torrents of self-destruction; a paradoxical dance which continued until his death in 1983. For a man who found artistic expression everything, and for whom suffering for it was an expectation, Chris would stare fully into the Medusa痴 face of the music industry, paying a higher price than perhaps any of his contemporaries.

Researched and written over a ten-year period, 典ragic Magic offers the only definitive account of Traffic痴 story and Chris Wood痴 quietly extraordinary life.

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About the Author

Dan Ropek has previously written for Goldmine, Record Collector, and Crawdaddy! magazines. He also designed the cover and wrote the liner notes for Chris Wood痴 Vulcan album (2008). Excerpts from this book are slated to be included in the forthcoming (2016) Chris Wood box-set retrospective, Evening Blue. When not teaching at Columbia Gorge Community College, Dan plays music and tends a small patch of forest in nearby Mount Hood, Oregon.


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Published January 2016 | 978-1910773192 | 376 pages | 」16.99