Detail of the 1968 self-titled Traffic album showing the members of the band.

Endangered Species

Dave Mason is out on tour. He had been in Traffic. Left in 1969. That wasn’t exactly a long run. Mason had been an original member of the band. It formed in 1967.

He has subsequently had a solo career. Such as it is.

He wrote songs including “Feelin’ Alright,” “Hole in My Shoe,” “Only You Know and I Know,” and “Sad and Deep as You.” If you didn’t hear Mason singing one of those songs, you probably heard someone doing a cover.

Mason is 76.

The name of Mason’s tour: “Endangered Species.”

He’s probably right.

Sadly.

Traffic was one of those Brit bands of the late 1960s, early ‘70s, that made it to the auditorium, not the arena.

Were it not for FM radio, which would play “extended” cuts—perhaps Traffic’s most well-known song is “The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys,” from the album of the same name, that was released in 1971.

It is 11:41 long. In a period when a 3-minute song on the AM band was the norm, that was exceptional.

The whole album is 40:11, so the noodling on the piano is quite surprising.

Steve Winwood is 74.

His most famous vocal (and Hammond organ open) is on “Gimme Some Lovin’,” released by the Spencer Davis Group in 1966.

Winwood was 18 when he belted out the words.

Imagine your most notable work being done the year you graduated high school.

The other two members of the original organization of Traffic with Mason and Winwood were Chris Wood and Jim Capaldi.

Wood died in 1983, age 39.

Capaldi died in 2005, age 60.

Endangered species.

Another band that was contemporaneous with Traffic but gained more visibility garnered largely through notoriety was The Doors.

Half of that band tipped to the far side of being an endangered species.

Jim Morrison died in 1971, age 27, essentially ending the band.

On the “official” Doors website it states: “though Morrison’s death meant the end of an era, Manzarek, Krieger and Densmore collaborated on two more original Doors albums, Other Voices and Full Circle.” No, Morrison’s death didn’t mean the end of an era, it meant the end of the band, full stop.

Keyboard player Ray Manzarek died in 2013, age 74.

Guitarist Robby Krieger, 77, and drummer, John Densmore, 78, are still with us.

In 2004 Densmore sued Krieger and Manzarek, who had joined up with Ian Astbury and Stewart Copeland and toured at “The Doors of the 21st Century.”

Densmore didn’t want them to have a pretend version of The Doors. He won the case. The band went out as D21C. The alphanumeric is silly. The Doors of the 21st Century simply sounds stupid. But Densmore was protecting what had been and by then was gone.

This past week Primary Wave, an investment-backed music acquisition company, acquired Robby Krieger’s and Ray Manzarek’s estate’s rights to The Doors music publishing catalog, recordings, trademarks, and merch rights and income.

Morrison’s estate and Densmore still own their portions of The Doors.

According to MusicBusiness Worldwide, “Primary Waves says that its marketing, digital strategy, branding, licensing, and synch teams will work closely with The Doors’ manager Jeff Jampol (Jampol Artist Management, Inc.) to help drive opportunities across this rich catalog of music.” (The “(Jampol Artist Management, Inc.)” is a nice touch: make no mistake, he’s about the business.)

Yes, that’s what it is all about: driving opportunities wherever they lucratively lead.

Morrison Hotel was released in 1970. (Think about that title for a minute: This would be like a Beatles album being titled Lennon Bedsit or a Stones disc as Jagger Castle. There was an actual Morrison Hotel in LA, but one could undoubtedly find a venue with the name they’re looking for. That is how important Morrison was/is to The Doors.)

The opening cut is “Roadhouse Blues.”

There is a harmonica played on it credited to “G. Puglese.” It didn’t take long for people to suss out that Puglese was John Sebastian. (He had an issue with his label so he had to come up with the pseudonym.)

Sebastian was the co-founder of The Lovin’ Spoonful in 1965. Somehow that doesn’t seem to the be name that one would come up with for a band established in New York City; something pricklier might have been more appropriate. Yet of the band’s three most recognized songs, only one of them has that edgy aspect to it: “Summer in the City,” released in 1966, is as emblematic of the mid-‘60s as “Light My Fire” by The Doors (1967) is. “Back of my neck getting dirty and gritty.”

The other two songs are “Daydream” and “Do You Believe in Magic,” both written by Sebastian and originally performed by The Lovin’ Spoonful. The former has been covered by musicians including Chet Atkins, Art Garfunkel, Ricky Nelson, and Bill Wyman’s Rhythm Kings.

Sebastian must have been quite a Motown fan as reportedly “Daydream” was his take on The Supremes’ “Baby Love” and “Do You Believe in Magic” has an opening that Sebastian borrowed from “Heat Wave” by Martha and the Vandellas. Presently you can hear a cover of that song in a TV commercial for Campbell’s Cream of Chicken Soup.

Sebastian left The Lovin’ Spoonful in 1968 and has not been a member of a band since, doing a variety of solo and session work. He had been asked to join Crosby, Stills & Nash, and although he didn’t, he played harmonica on the “Déjà Vu” track of the CSN&Y album of that name. Sebastian’s father, from whom the Puglese moniker comes from, was a classical harmonica player. Yes, there are those.

Arguably—and one might suggest unfortunately—Sebastian’s most famous song is “Welcome Back” (1976), the theme song for the TV show Welcome Back, Kotter. Not only did he write it, but performs it. Presumably that—and the commercial use of “Do You Believe in Magic” (there are also several instances prior to the Campbell’s commercial—and it is interesting to know that the soup company used “Crowded Table” by The Highwomen back in 2020, so it is evident that there are music fans at the company and its ad agency)—have gone a long way to keep Sebastian somewhat more than solvent.

Like Mason, at 78 he is an endangered species.

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