Classic Rock Corner

Inquiring Minds: All Along The Watchtower With Ex-Traffic Cop Dave Mason

Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Dave Mason has certainly had a storied career: Founding member of Traffic, guest appearances on records by Hendrix, the Stones and various Beatles, a solid solo career, stint with Fleetwood Mac, and writer of at least one Classic Rock Warhorse in "Feelin' Alright."

And while he unfortunately doesn't get the attention that some of his contemporaries do, Mason and his band still play around 120 dates a year. In 2008, he broke a 20-year studio record drought with the fine 26 Letters, 12 Notes (Out the Box Records). The varied effort features Mason's trademark blues-rockers ("Good 2 U," "Let Me Go"), pop ("One Day"), a bit of humor ("Pink Lipstick," "Ain't Your Legs Tired Baby") and ballads ("How Do I Get to Heaven?" "Full Circle and Then").

Rocks Off spoke with Dave Mason about past friends, current projects, and a certain Red Headed Stranger.

Rocks Off: The last time you played Houston, you were leaving the next morning to record with Willie Nelson, who ended up playing on "How Do I Get to Heaven?" What was that like?

Dave Mason: It was interesting, but a little rushed. I thought it was a great idea, but we should have recorded the whole thing together. It was mostly done when I brought it in. He did a whole bunch of guitar noodling, and I used a lot of it for the solo.

He said to me (taking up Willie's voice) "You know, we should do some writin' together, Dave." And I said that would be great. My connection down there was [Nelson's longtime right-hand man] Poodie Locke, but he passed away last year. He did take me to one hell of a barbecue place, though!

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Bob Ruggiero has been writing about music, books, visual arts and entertainment for the Houston Press since 1997, with an emphasis on classic rock. He used to have an incredible and luxurious mullet in college as well. He is the author of the band biography Slippin’ Out of Darkness: The Story of WAR.
Contact: Bob Ruggiero