Chris Wood (rock musician)
Chris Wood in 1974.
24 June 1944|
Harborne, Birmingham, England
|Died||12 July 1983
|Genres||Rock, progressive rock, jazz fusion|
|Instruments||Saxophone, flute, keyboards|
|Associated acts||Shades of Blue, Locomotive, Traffic, Wooden Frog, Dr. John, Ginger Baker's Air Force|
Born in Harborne, 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 fifteen, 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. Wood played with Perfect in 1964 in the band Shades of Blue and with Kellie during 1965-1966 in the band Locomotive.
He attended the Foley College of Further Education and College of Art in Stourbridge and subsequently was awarded a grant to attend the Royal Academy of Art. 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.
In Traffic, Wood primarily played flute and saxophone, occasionally contributing keyboards 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 Steve Winwood and Jim Capaldi), of "Dear Mr. Fantasy".
Wood played with Jimi Hendrix in 1968, appearing on Electric Ladyland. While Winwood temporarily joined supergroup Blind Faith in 1969, Wood, Mason and Capaldi joined Mick Weaver of Wynder K Frog, playing first as Mason, Capaldi, Wood and Frog, but soon as "Wooden Frog". 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 1969, when he was 25 and she was 19.
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).
Through much of his life, Wood suffered from addiction to drugs and alcohol, which were initially attributed to a fear of flying. His wife Jeanette, from whom he had separated but was still on good terms, had died in 1980, at the age of 30, from the effects of a seizure. Wood was profoundly affected by her death.
While working on a solo album that was to be titled Vulcan, Wood died in 1983 of pneumonia in Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham, England. Material for the album had been recorded over the previous few years, primarily in a recording studio Wood had purchased. Following Wood's death, the Vulcan recordings remained in the possession of Wood's sister, Stephanie. In 2008, with the consent of Stephanie Wood and after three years of research and preparation, 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.
- 2008 Vulcan (Esoteric; recorded 1983)
With Traffic 
- 1967 Mr. Fantasy
- 1968 Traffic
- 1969 Last Exit
- 1969 Best of Traffic
- 1970 John Barleycorn Must Die
- 1971 The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys
- 1971 Welcome to the Canteen
- 1973 Shoot Out at the Fantasy Factory
- 1973 On the Road
- 1974 When the Eagle Flies
- 1975 Heavy Traffic
- 1975 More Heavy Traffic
- 1991 Smiling Phases
- 1998 Heaven Is In Your Mind - An Introduction To Traffic
- 2000 Feelin' Alright: The Very Best Of Traffic
- 2002 The Collection
- 2003 The Best Of Traffic - The Millennium Collection
- 2005 Traffic Gold
With Ginger Baker's Air Force 
- 1970 Ginger Baker's Air Force (Island/Polydor)
- 1998 Ginger Baker, Do What You Like (Polydor; compilation of Ginger Baker's first three albums, including Ginger Baker's Air Force)
With others 
- 1968 The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Electric Ladyland (Track/Reprise Records)
- 1969 Free, Free (Island/Polydor)
- 1969 Fat Mattress, Fat Mattress (Polydor)
- 1969 Martha Velez, Fiends and Angels (Sire)
- 1969 Chicken Shack, O.K. Ken? (Blue Horizon)
- 1969 Gordon Jackson, Thinking Back (Marmalade)
- 1969 Locomotive, We Are Everything You See
- 1970 Shawn Phillips, Contribution (A&M)
- 1970 Sky, Don't Hold Back (RCA)
- 1971 Jimi Hendrix, The Cry of Love (Track/Reprise)
- 1971 Steve Winwood, Winwood (United Artists; compilation of Winwood's activities from 1966 to 1970, including material from Traffic)
- 1972 Jim Capaldi, Oh How We Danced (Island)
- 1972 Reebop Kwaku Baah, Rebop (Island)
- 1973 John Martyn, Inside Out
- 1973 Hanson, Now Hear This (Manticore)
- 1973 Free Creek, Music From Free Creek (Charisma; recorded 1969; re-released 1976 as Summit Meeting)
- 1975 Jim Capaldi, Short Cut Draw Blood (Island)
- 1977 Third World, 96 Degrees In The Shade (Manga)
- 1977 Crawler, Crawler (Epic)
- 1979 Third World, The Story's Been Told (Island)
- 1997 Spencer Davis Group, Funky (Date/One Way; recorded 1968)
- Ellie Iglio and Stephanie Wood, Chris Wood Biography; www.winwoodfans.com.
- Biography of Locomotive; www.brumbeat.net.
- 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.
- Mick Weaver History, The Musician's Olympus.
- Esoteric Recordings News Release, October, 2008; www.cherryred.co.uk.