Davis, who formed The Spencer Davis Group in Birmingham in 1963 and recruited Winwood on organ and lead vocals, passed away in hospital on Monday (October 19) while he was being treated for pneumonia.
In a statement posted on his website, Winwood recalled meeting Davis for the first time when he was 13 and Davis was 22.
“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 seeds of The Spencer Davis Group were sown.”
The Group became famous in the 1960s for such hits as ‘Keep On Running’ (a cover of a song originally written by Jackie Edwards), ‘Gimme Some Lovin” and ‘I’m A Man’.
“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’,” Winwood added.
“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.”
Winwood said that Davis “was definitely a man with a vision, and one of the pioneers of the ‘British Invasion’ of America in the ‘60s”.
“I never went to the US with Spencer, but he later embraced America and America embraced him,” he said. “I feel that he was influential in setting me on the road to becoming a professional musician, and I thank him for that.
“Thank you, Spencer.”