There are few artists as understated but wholly influential as the great Spencer Davis. With his band The Spencer Davis Group, he enjoyed hits in the sixties which would influence an entire generation, with songs like ‘Gimme Some Lovin”, ‘Keep on Running’ and ‘I’m A Man’ still regarded as some of the finest work the decade produced.
The musician’s agent confirmed to the BBC that Davis died on Monday night while receiving treatment for pneumonia. “He was a very good friend,” agent Bob Birk told the broadcaster, before adding: “He was highly ethical, very talented, good-hearted, extremely intelligent, generous man. He will be missed.”
The legendary musician was 81 when he sadly succumbed to illness on Monday night. He leaves behind a legacy that few will ever be able to match. Born and raised in South Wales, Davis was a musical child, learning both harmonica and accordion at a tender age. At 16 he moved to London and then Birmingham in pursuit of a normal, if not boring, career.
It was in Birmingham that Davis met future Rolling Stones bassist Bill Wyman where the two shared a band called the Saints. It was at this time that Davis also collaborated with Christine McVie, the future member of Fleetwood Mac. In 1963, Davis formed the Spencer Davis Group featuring a young Steve Winwood on guitar.
With the band, Davis enjoyed a great deal of success with the three major hits, ‘Gimme Some Lovin” the brilliant ‘Keep on Running’ and the classic ‘I’m A Man’. It was a run of hits that suggested Davis had one of the most potent ears in the business. It was something he took on into his role as artist developer for Island records.
“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. “Thank you, Spencer.” While he may well be one of the more understated artists of the sixties, it seems the right time to get to know Spencer Davis.