An integral part of one of the most influential rock bands of the 1960s and ’70s, Chris Wood was a multi-talented musician, best known for his work as a saxophonist and flautist with the band Traffic. Born on June 24, 1944, in Quinton, Birmingham, England, Wood’s innovative playing style and profound influence on the band’s sound remain key elements of Traffic’s enduring legacy.
Wood’s passion for music blossomed at an early age. He honed his skills at the Stourbridge College of Art, studied saxophone and flute, his primary instruments, and cultivated a deep understanding of jazz, which would later play a significant role in shaping his musical style.
In the mid-1960s, Wood’s career took a significant turn when he joined Steve Winwood, Jim Capaldi, and Dave Mason to form the band Traffic. Their debut album, “Mr. Fantasy,” released in 1967, showcased Wood’s talents not only as a saxophonist and flautist but also as a keyboardist. His multi-instrumental skills and flair for improvisation were instrumental in defining Traffic’s progressive, psychedelic sound.
Wood’s influence in Traffic extended beyond his musicianship. He contributed to the band’s songwriting process and provided the cover artwork for several of their albums. His saxophone and flute playing were particularly influential in shaping Traffic’s eclectic blend of rock, folk, and jazz, as heard on tracks like “Dear Mr. Fantasy” and “John Barleycorn.”
Beyond his work with Traffic, Wood pursued several other musical endeavors. He collaborated with numerous artists, including Jimi Hendrix on the iconic “Electric Ladyland” album and Free on their self-titled debut. Wood’s collaborations showcased his versatility as a saxophonist, working seamlessly in diverse musical settings.
Unfortunately, Wood’s life was cut short due to complications from pneumonia in 1983, but his legacy continues to inspire saxophonists and music lovers alike. His innovative approach to the saxophone, versatility as a musician, and contributions to Traffic have left an indelible mark on the world of rock music.
Page last updated 7/16/2023.