Monday, November 7, 2011

Psychedelic Pioneers: The Spencer Davis Group

The Spencer Davis Group was a mid-1960s British beat group from Birmingham, England, formed by Spencer Davis with Steve Winwood and his brother Muff Winwood. Their best known songs include "Somebody Help Me", "Keep on Running" (both of which were written by reggae musician Jackie Edwards), "I'm a Man" and "Gimme Some Lovin'", which peaked at #7 in the United States.

Steve Winwood left in 1967, to form Traffic before joining Blind Faith, then forging a career as a soloist.After releasing a few more singles the band ceased activity in 1968. Davis started a new group in 2006.

In 1963 Welsh guitarist Spencer Davis recruited vocalist and organist Steve Winwood and his bass playing brother Muff Winwood. The group was completed with Pete York on drums. Originally called the Rhythm and Blues Quartette, the band performed regularly in the city. Muff Winwood came up with the band's name, reasoning "Spencer was the only one who enjoyed doing interviews, so I pointed out that if we called it the Spencer Davis Group, the rest of us could stay in bed and let him do them."

By the end of 1966 and the beginning of 1967, the group released two more hits, "Gimme Some Lovin'" and "I'm a Man". Both of them sold over one million copies, and were awarded gold record status. These tracks proved to be their two best-known successes, especially in the U.S.

Although short-lived, the Spencer Davis Group – particularly its incarnation with Steve Winwood – proved to be influential, with many of the band's songs covered by other artists over the years. Notable among these are Chicago's 1969 version of "I'm a Man"; The Allman Brothers Band's 1969 take of Davis' instrumental "Don't Want You No More"; Three Dog Night's 1970 recording of "Can't Get Enough of It"; and The Blues Brothers' 1980 recording of "Gimme Some Lovin". The Grateful Dead also covered Spencer Davis Group material in live performance on occasion, and Spencer Davis himself performed "I'm a Man" with the Grateful Dead at a 1989 performance at Los Angeles' Great Western Forum.

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