Spencer Davis, the multi-instrumentalist best known for leading the Spencer Davis Group, died yesterday (19 October) at the age of 81, while being treated for pneumonia. News of his death was confirmed in a statement by his agent, Bob Birk.
“He was a highly ethical, very talented, good-hearted, extremely intelligent, generous man,” Birk told the BBC. “He will be missed.”
Davis formed the Spencer Davis Group in 1963 alongside Steve Winwood, Muff Winwood and Pete York. The band, originally known as The Rhythm & Blues Quartet, were a part of the British Invasion of the 60s; they toured the US with the likes of The Rolling Stones and The Who. Some of the group’s biggest hits include Gimme Some Lovin’, I’m A Man and a cover of Jackie Edwards’ Keep On Running.
Steve Winwood, who joined the band when he was just 14, left the Spencer Davis Group in 1967 and went on to form a number of successful musical projects after, including Traffic and the short-lived Blind Faith, which featured Eric Clapton, Ginger Baker and Ric Grech. Winwood paid tribute to Davis in an online statement, expressing his gratitude to Davis, whom he regarded as “a big brother”.
“He was definitely a man with a vision, and one of the pioneers of the British invasion of America in the sixties,” Winwood wrote. “I feel that he was influential in setting me on the road to becoming a professional musician, and I thank him for that.”
Although the Spencer Davis Group stopped making records after 1974’s Living In A Back Street, Davis continued to helm and tour with the group during occasional reunions throughout the 90s, 2000s and 2010s. The band’s last shows were in 2017.
Outside of his work with the band, Davis was also an executive at Island Records back in the 1970s. According to his official website, his work at the label helped “further the profiles of artists like Robert Palmer and Bob Marley”.
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