In Memoriam: Spencer Davis (1939-2020)

Brenda Watkins
October 23, 2020

Davis, who was known in musical circles as the Professor, was born in Swansea and began learning harmonica and accordion at the age of six.

Spencer Davis, whose namesake "60s beat band - The Spencer Davis Group - had the iconic hit, "Gimme Some Lovin". has died. Discovered at 14 by Davis, who recognized a vocal talent that would continue charting records for decades, Winwood left the group in 1967 to cofound the seminal FM-radio band Traffic, and, in 1969, Blind Faith with Eric Clapton, Ginger Baker and Ric Grech.

"I feel that he was influential in setting me on the road to becoming a professional musician, and I thank him for that", Steve Winwood said in a statement about his former bandleader.

Davis formed the British group bearing his name in 1963, which featured himself on guitar and Pete York on drums. and he recruited a teenage Steve Winwood to sing and Steve's brother, Muff, to play the bass. "I was playing a show at Birmingham University with my brother and his band".

"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, '" recalled Steve Winwood, following Davis" passing. "We met and the seeds of the Spencer Davis ensemble were sown".

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According to the official charts company, the band topped the United Kingdom singles chart twice, their breakout hit Cop On Running and Somewhere Help Me, and topped the top 40 singles and three top 10 albums.

Davis released several solo albums without recapturing his '60s fame and later reformed the Spencer Davis Group without the Winwood brothers. He opted instead to work as an A&R executive for Island Records, where he developed artists like Bob Marley and Robert Palmer.

"I never went to the USA with Spencer, but he later embraced America and America embraced him", he said.

Spencer Davis was married to Pauline Oliver and is survived by his partner June and by three children.

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