Spencer Davis, RIP (Steve Winwood pays tribute)
Spencer Davis, guitarist and leader of The Spencer Davis Group, has died from complications of pneumonia, reports the BBC. He was 81.
Originally named The Rhythm & Blues Quartette, the band changed their name in 1964 when, so the story goes, it became clear that Davis was the only member of the band who liked talking to the press. They had worldwide hits with "Gimme Some Lovin'," "I'm a Man," ""Somebody Help Me," and "Keep on Running" but, at the height of their fame, singer/keyboardist Steve Winwood left to for Traffic. The band carried on for a few more singles, disbanded shortly after, and David reformed the group with a new lineup in the '70s.
Winwood has now penned a tribute to Spencer:
I’ve known Spencer since I was about 13–he would have been about 22. I was playing a show at Birmingham University with my brother and his band. Spencer who was a student at Birmingham, was playing with a small group of musicians. We met and the the seeds of The Spencer Davis Group were sown.
Spencer was an early pioneer of the British folk scene, which, in his case embraced folk blues, and eventually what was then called “Rhythm and Blues”. He influenced my tastes in music, he owned the first 12-string guitar I ever saw, and he was taken with the music of Huddie “Lead belly” Ledbetter, and Big Bill Broonzy. I’d already got a big brother who influenced me greatly, and Spencer became like a big brother to me at the time.
He was definitely a man with a vision, and one of the pioneers of the British invasion of America in the sixties. I never went to the U.S. with Spencer, but he later embraced America, and America embraced him.
I feel that he was influential in setting me on the road to becoming a professional musician, and I thank him for that.
Thank you, Spencer.
Before the SDG, Davis briefly had a band, The Saints, that included a pre-Rolling Stones Bill Wyman, and played folk music with Christine Perfect (aka soon-to-be Fleetwood Mac member Christine McVie). Davis later went on work for Island Records before re-launching a solo career in the '80s. More recently, Davis lead new lineups of The Spencer Davis Group into the '00s and '10s.
Rest in peace, Spencer.