Mason in 2003
|David Thomas Mason|
10 May 1946|
|Genres||Folk rock, pop rock, psychedelic rock, soft rock|
|Instruments||guitar, vocals, bass guitar, mellotron, sitar, tambura|
|Labels||Blue Thumb, Harvest, Columbia, MCA Records|
|Traffic, Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, George Harrison, Derek and the Dominos, Fleetwood Mac, Cass Elliot, Rory Gallagher, Phoebe Snow, Leon Russell|
David Thomas Mason (born 10 May 1946) is an English singer-songwriter and guitarist from Worcester, who first found fame with the rock band Traffic. Over the course of his career, Mason has played and recorded with many notable pop and rock musicians, including Paul McCartney, George Harrison, the Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Michael Jackson, David Crosby, Graham Nash, Steve Winwood, Fleetwood Mac, Delaney & Bonnie, Leon Russell and Cass Elliot. One of Mason's best known songs is "Feelin' Alright," recorded by Traffic in 1968 and later by many other performers, including Joe Cocker, whose version of the song was a hit in 1969. For Traffic, he also wrote "Hole in My Shoe," a psychedelic pop song that became a hit in its own right. "We Just Disagree," Mason's 1977 solo US hit, written by Jim Krueger, has become a staple of US Classic Hits and Adult Contemporary radio playlists.
In 2004, Mason was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a founding member of Traffic.
Mason's tenure with Traffic was disjointed. He co-founded the group, but left following the recording of their debut album, Mr. Fantasy (1967), only to rejoin halfway through the sessions for their next album, Traffic (1968), after which he left again. Last Exit (1969), a compilation of odds and ends, features little material by Mason apart from his song "Just for You." Traffic later re-formed without Mason, although he briefly toured with the band in 1971 and played on Welcome to the Canteen. In his brief spells with the group, Mason never quite fit in; Steve Winwood later recalled, "We all [Winwood, Jim Capaldi and Chris Wood] tended to write together, but Dave would come in with a complete song that he was going to sing and tell us all what he expected us to play. No discussion, like we were his backing group."
Mason was a friend of guitarist Jimi Hendrix, whose career was launched in England in 1966. Hendrix first heard the song "All Along the Watchtower," from Bob Dylan's album John Wesley Harding, with Mason at the apartment of a friend who had acquired a prior release of the album. Hendrix recorded his own version at Olympic Studios, South West London, with Mason playing 12-string acoustic guitar. The song was released on the album Electric Ladyland in September 1968. Mason also sings backing vocals on "Crosstown Traffic." When it came out as a single in October, it hit No. 5 in the UK Singles Chart and reached the Top 40 in the U.S. Mason later recorded his own version of the song for his 1974 album, Dave Mason, with Bob Glaub on bass. Mason appears on the Rolling Stones' 1968 album Beggars Banquet, although uncredited. Mason's connection was Jimmy Miller, who served as producer for the Stones and Traffic. In 1969-1970, Mason toured with Delaney and Bonnie and Friends, along with Eric Clapton and George Harrison. Mason appears on George Harrison's 1970 solo set All Things Must Pass. In 1970, Mason was slated to be the second guitarist for Derek and the Dominos. He played on their early studio sessions, including the Phil Spector production of "Tell the Truth", which was later withdrawn from sale (and is now a collectors item). He also played at their first gig at the London Lyceum but left the group soon after that. He co-wrote the song "Big Thirst" on Oh How We Danced, by Jim Capaldi (Mason's bandmate in the Hellions, Deep Feeling, and Traffic), and played the guitar solo on "Don't Be a Hero".
After Traffic, Mason pursued a moderately successful solo career. His first single was "Just for You"; on the B-side, "Little Woman," he was backed by the band Family, following his production of Family's first album, 1968's Music in a Doll's House (which included "Never Like This," an original Mason song). His songwriting and sound culminated on his 1970 album Alone Together featuring "Only You Know and I Know," which reached No. 42 on the Billboard chart, as well as the lesser hit "Look at You, Look at Me." In the early 1970s he enlisted his friend, singer-songwriter Ray Kennedy, to tour and write for his next album. In the mid- to late 1970s, he toured and recorded with guitarist Jim Krueger, keyboardist Mike Finnigan, bassist Gerald Johnson and drummer Rick Jaeger. In 1977, Mason had his biggest hit with "We Just Disagree," written by Krueger. Reaching No. 12 on the Billboard Hot 100, it was later successfully recorded by country singer Billy Dean. Mason played himself in the film Skatetown, U.S.A., performing two songs in a roller disco as well as writing and performing the film's theme song.
For a brief period in the 1990s, Mason joined Fleetwood Mac and released the album Time with them in 1995. In 1997 Mason was scheduled to be a member of Ringo Starr & His All-Starr Band, performing "Only You Know and I Know", "We Just Disagree" and "Feelin Alright", but he was dropped from rehearsals before the tour started.
In 2002, he released the DVD Dave Mason: Live at Sunrise, a recording of a live performance at the Sunrise Musical Theater in Sunrise, Florida, backed by Bobby Scumaci on keyboards, Johnne Sambataro on rhythm guitar (who rejoined Mason for the DVD, after previously touring with him in 1978), Richard Campbell on bass and Greg Babcock on drums.
At one time, Mason lived in the Ojai Valley in California. As of 2005, he was performing about 100 shows a year with the Dave Mason Band across the U.S. and Canada.
Mason is a proponent of music education for children. In 2005, he signed on as an official supporter of Little Kids Rock, a non-profit organisation that provides free musical instruments and lessons to children in American public schools. He sits on the organization's board of directors as an honorary member. Mason also is a founding board member of Yoga Blue, a non-profit organisation devoted to teaching yoga and other holistic practices to those recovering from substance abuse and other self-destructive disorders. Mason and his longtime friend Ted Knapp have founded Rock Our Vets, an all volunteer 501(c)3 charity supported by many other musical talents, helping veterans with whatever needs to be done. The charity has focused on providing food and clothing to homeless veterans, laptop computers for vets aspiring to continue their education, as well as suicide prevention.