World News – GB – Spencer Davis, conductor of the band Spencer Davis, dies at 81


Guitarist who helped popularize blues and R&B in UK died while being treated for pneumonia in hospital

Spencer Davis, who as conductor of the Spencer Davis group topped the UK charts twice in the mid-1960s, died aged 81 while being treated for pneumonia to the hospital

The band, formed in Birmingham in 1963 and starring Steve Winwood, have had hits such as Gimme Some Lovin ‘, Keep On Running, Somebody Help Me and I’m a Man Along with a number of other premieres British pop groups, they helped popularize the sound of American blues and R&B in the UK

Winwood left the group in 1967 to form Traffic, with Davis and others breaking up the group in 1969 They partially reformed for two years in the mid-1970s, and again in 2006, when Davis returned to international tour with the band

Born in Swansea in 1939, Davis began learning accordion and harmonica at the age of six Attracted by the allure of American R&B records, he took up the guitar and formed his first group The Saints with Bill Wyman, who later joined the Rolling Stones

Davis moved to Birmingham to study German at university and performed in parallel bands, first playing American folk and traditional blues. In 1963, he and drummer Pete York recruited Winwood, 15 , and his brother Muff in their group, first called Rhythm and Blues Quartet, then Spencer Davis Group

Like the Stones, Dave Clark Five, Kinks and others, the Spencer Davis Group was part of the flourishing “beat” scene of the mid-1960s, playing music influenced by American rhythm and blues with a another Birmingham band, the Moody Blues, they were nicknamed « Brum beat » to differentiate them from the bustling scenes of London and Liverpool, although their popularity increased with a residency at the Marquee club in London.

Building their sound around Winwood’s uptempo beats and powerfully soulful vocals, their first single, I Can’t Stand It, was released in 1964.They topped the charts the following year with Keep On Running, and in 1966 with Somebody Help Me, both written by Jamaican artist Jackie Edwards Other hits include the anthemic Gimme Some Lovin ‘, written by Winwood, which was also a hit in the US, reaching 7th place

I’m a Man (1967) will be the group’s last big hit, also reaching the Top 10 in the United States and the United Kingdom, then taken over by the group Chicago

After their first breakup, Davis moved to the United States and struggled financially, later complaining about punitive record deals « I didn’t realize what happened I had sold millions records and I hadn’t seen a penny of them, ”he said in 2005

He rose to a role in the industry in the 1970s, working with his label Island Records to help develop artists such as Bob Marley and Robert Palmer He also aided Winwood’s solo career

Artists paying homage to Davis include Gary Kemp of Spandau Ballet who tweeted: « He led a wonderful group, one of the greatest of the ’60s, with Muff and Steve Winwood Keep in [sic] Running and Gimme Some Lovin ‘were classics from R&B He drove the soul into the white rock sound of the era « 

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Spencer Davis

World News – UK – Spencer Davis, conductor of the Spencer Davis band, dies at 81



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