Gary James' Interview With
Dave Mason

His career spans over fifty years in the music business, and what a career it's been! He's the co-founder of Traffic. He's recorded with The Rolling Stones on "Beggar's Banquet", George Harrison's "All Things Must Pass", Paul McCartney's "Listen To What The Man Said", and Jimi Hendrix's "Electric Ladyland". He wrote the song "Feelin' Alright", which both Traffic and later Joe Cocker recorded. He wrote "Hole In My Shoe", a big hit for Traffic. In 2004 Dave Mason was inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame. And if all that isn't enough, for the first time ever, Dave Mason will be sharing the stage with Steve Cropper on the Rock And Soul Revue tour.

Q - Dave, it was only a few years ago that you were part of something called Hippiefest. Now you're out on the road with Steve Cropper on this Rock And Soul Revue. How did this tour come together? Is this something you two guys worked out?

A - Yeah. We put it together.

Q - Who decides who opens for who, or do you alternate?

A - There is no opening. This is a show with both of us.

Q - You must have seen quite a few of what we refer to as the British Invasion groups when you were coming up as a musician. Did you feel the electricity in the air?

A - No. I was just doing what I was doing actually.

Q - You knew that something was going on, did you not?

A - Well, there was a number of bands that would just make music and hopefully some of them would become successful. You're talking from looking in the rear view mirror here. (laughs) I'm talking from being there. I just wanted to make music, so I started playing and put a local band together and that developed into Traffic and after Traffic. I just kind of decided to move from England to the U.S. and basically tried a solo career and luckily I made an album that became very successful.

Q - You were in the center of the universe at that time. You were in the right place at the right time with the right stuff.

A - (laughs) You're doing it from the rear view mirror from your perspective. I'm just doing it.

Q - You didn't think about all that was going on around you then?

A - No.

Q - You worked with all of the greats in the 1960s and into the 1970s, didn't you?

A - Some of them.

Q - Did you necessarily have to like everybody you worked with?

A - Well, it kind of helps. (laughs) This wasn't particularly about lasting friendships. People were just receptive to this music and aware of it. Recording with difficult people for me, a lot of it was just happenstance, in the right place at the right time really.

Q - Is it true that you left Traffic before they recorded their debut album?

A - I left the group after the first album.

Q - Why did you leave?

A - It was just too much for me.

Q - You played a role in Hendrix recording Bob Dylan's "All Along The Watchtower". Dylan was throwing a party. You brought Hendrix to the party and Jimi heard that song and decided to record it. Is all that true?

A - No. Bob Dylan wasn't holding any party. I just went to somebody's house that had an advance copy of "John Wesley Harding" and we were listening to it and I guess something caught Jimi's attention and a few days later I was in the studio with him, recording "All Along The Watchtower".

Q - Did you see Hendrix after that recording session?

A - A few times. It wasn't long after that that I moved over to the States. Everybody had their own careers going on as they do now. You don't really get to see or spend a lot of time with people like that.

Q - How long did it take you to record that song?

A - Pretty much that track was basically done as far as I remember in one or two sessions. That was it.

Q - One session was how long? Three hours?

A - Oh, God no. You were in there all day. All day and the night. As long as you wanted to go. As long as you can stay awake.

Q - Some of the people I talk to said they had three hours to record three songs.

A - Yeah. Sometimes that's the way it is.

Q - I guess when you're Jimi Hendrix you don't have anybody breathing down your neck, watching the clock. You can do what you want to do.

A - Pretty much.

Q - You didn't write "We Just Disagree", Jim Krueger wrote it. How did you find that song?

A - Well, he played guitar with me for about eighteen years.

Q - With a guy right next to you, that would explain it. From your point of view, what's been the best change you've seen in Rock music?

A - From the point of making albums and selling albums, it's gotten worse. I don't see anything that's best. (laughs)

Q - I was going to follow that question up by asking you what the worst change is that you've seen in Rock music, but you answered that.

A - Yeah. I've just been doing what I've been doing for over fifty years. The only part that's changed is I don't put out records anymore.

Q - Some people I talk to put their music out on their own label and sell it at their shows.

A - That's what you do.

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