Spencer Davis, leader and guitarist of the popular 1960s British beat band The Spencer Davis Group, died in a hospital on Monday while being treated for pneumonia, the musician’s agent told the BBC. He was 81.
Born in Wales, Davis later moved to London and then to Birmingham, U.K. Early in his career he played in a blues group called The Saints with future Rolling Stones bassist Bill Wyman, and also performed folk music with Christine McVie, then known by her maiden name Christine Perfect.
Davis formed The Spencer Davis Group in 1963 in Birmingham, along with lead singer/keyboardist/guitarist Steve Winwood, bassist Muff Winwood — Steve’s older brother — and drummer Jim York. The band is best known in the U.S. for the classic soul-rock tunes “Gimme Some Lovin'” and “I’m a Man,” which reached #7 and #10, respectively, on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1966 and ’67, and #2 and #9 on the U.K. singles chart.
The Spencer Davis Group also topped the U.K. chart in 1965 and ’66 with “Keep on Running” and “Somebody Help Me.”
Steve Winwood left The Spencer Davis Group in 1967 to form Traffic, and the band broke up a couple years later. Davis released a couple of solo albums during the 1970s, and he also worked for Island Records around that time, promoting such artists as Bob Marley and Robert Palmer.
Davis eventually re-formed The Spencer Davis Group without the Winwood brothers and toured with the band on and off until his passing.
By Matt Friedlander
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