Spencer Davis death: Welsh rock star behind hit song ‘Gimme Some Lovin’ dies aged 81

Britain Obit Spencer Davis (1966 AP)
Britain Obit Spencer Davis (1966 AP)

Spencer Davis, the Welsh guitarist and bandleader whose eponymous rock group had 1960s hits including “Gimme Some Lovin’” and “I’m a Man,” has died aged 81.

Davis’ agent, Bob Birk, said in a statement on Tuesday 20 October that Davis died in a hospital while being treated for pneumonia. Local media reports that Davis lived in California.

Born in Swansea, Wales in 1939, Davis began working as a musician while he was a student at the University of Birmingham.

Influenced by the burgeoning British blues and skiffle scenes, he performed in bands with future stars including the Rolling Stones’ Bill Wyman and Christine Perfect — later Fleetwood Mac’s Christine McVie.

He formed the Spencer Davis Group in 1963, with a teenage Steve Winwood on keyboards and guitar, his brother Muff Winwood on bass and Pete York on drums.

With Steve Winwood as lead vocalist, the band had two No 1 UK singles — “Keep on Running” in 1965 and “Somebody Help Me” in 1966 — and seven British top 40 hits before Steve Winwood’s departure in 1967.

Davis briefly relocated to California and released several solo albums without recapturing his Sixties fame.

He later claimed that he came near to bankruptcy due to a punitive contract with Island Records.

“I didn't realise what had been going on. I'd sold millions of records and hadn't seen a penny from them,” he told Music Mart magazine in 2005.

“In 1970, I was considering declaring bankruptcy, but I'd written a track with Eddie Hardin, called 'Don't Want You No More’, which the Allman Brothers put on their Beginnings album. The damned thing sold six million copies. Suddenly a cheque for £5,000 arrived through the door and I'd never seen so much money in all my life.

“I saw more money from that one song than I saw from all the stuff that had been an Island production.”

Davis later reformed the Spencer Davis Group without the Winwood brothers.

He also worked with Island to help promote newcomers such as Bob Marley, Robert Palmer and Eddie And The Hot Rods.

In later years, Davis was regarded as an influential elder statesman of British rock.

He is survived by his partner June and three adult children.

Winwood led tributes to his former bandmate, telling Rolling Stone that Davis was like a “big brother” to him.

“I’ve known Spencer since I was about 13, he would have been about 22,” he said. “I was playing a show at Birmingham University with my brother and his band, Spencer who was a student at Birmingham, was playing with a small group of musicians, we met and the the seeds of Spencer Davis Group were sown.”

“Spencer was an early pioneer of the British folk scene, which, in his case embraced folk blues, and eventually what was then called ‘rhythm and blues,'” he continued. “He influenced my tastes in music, and he owned the first 12-string guitar I ever saw. He was taken with the music of Huddie ‘Lead belly’ Ledbetter and Big Bill Broonzy. I’d already got a big brother who influenced me greatly, and Spencer became like a big brother to me at the time.”

Additional reporting by Associated Press

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