Spencer Davis has died at the age of 81.
The multi-instrumentalist and founder of The Spencer Davis Group passed away in hospital yesterday (October 19) while being treated for pneumonia, his agent Bob Birk told the BBC.
Birk remembered Davis as “a highly ethical, very talented, good-hearted, extremely intelligent, generous man. He will be missed.”
Davis formed The Spencer Davis Group in Birmingham in 1963 with Steve Winwood (organ/vocals), Muff Winwood (bass) and Pete York (drums). The band, who originally went by the name The Rhythm & Blues Quartet, became renowned for such hits as ‘Keep On Running’ (a cover of a song written by Jackie Edwards), ‘Gimme Some Lovin” and ‘I’m A Man’.
The Spencer Davis Group were part of the “British Invasion” of the 1960s in the US, and toured with the likes of The Who and The Rolling Stones.
The Winwood brothers left the group in 1967 — Steve to form Traffic; Muff to become a successful record executive — and the band wound down in July 1969 (although they briefly reformed from 1973-74) with Davis moving to the US the following year to pursue a solo career.
Davis also worked as an executive at Island Records in the 1970s, with his official website stating that the Welsh musician helped “further the profiles of artists like Robert Palmer and Bob Marley” through his work at Island.
Davis was a prolific touring musician, and he played under The Spencer Davis Group banner without the Winwoods during the 90s, 2000s and 2010s. The band last played together in 2017, with two touring line-ups — one for Europe and one for the US — in operation and Davis still at the helm.
Tributes to Davis have been pouring in, with Steve Winwood remembering his former bandmate as “a man with a vision”. You can see a selection of other tributes to Davis below.
Celebrating the life of the great Spencer Davis and revisiting some of his classic tunes, including "Gimme Some Lovin'," that made many a Dead setlist over the years. Listen to the full song here: https://t.co/kurVx1YAIS pic.twitter.com/At0thqziSB
— Grateful Dead (@GratefulDead) October 20, 2020
Rest In Peace Spencer Davis https://t.co/P9HR1agtK1 give me some lovin
— anton newcombe (@antonnewcombe) October 20, 2020
Goddamn it. Lost a great one. RIP Spencer Davis. MV https://t.co/wyknlB68QC
— Milo Ventimiglia (@MiloVentimiglia) October 20, 2020
Sad news. Spencer Davis. Legend 😢 https://t.co/EfFrNkaw1t
— Badly Drawn Boy (@badly_drawn_boy) October 20, 2020
RIP Spencer Davis. He lead a magnificent band, one of the greats of the 60s, along with Muff and Steve Winwood. Keep in Running and Gimme Some Lovin’ we’re r&b classics. He drove soul into the white rock sound of the time. #SpencerDavis pic.twitter.com/LmAM9xXYKv
— Gary Kemp (@garyjkemp) October 20, 2020
Saw the Spencer Davis Group on a package tour in 1966. Their single was “I Can’t Stand It”, an American hit for the Soul Sisters. They were also on the bill; hence we got the song twice that night. pic.twitter.com/MZqj45InnN
— David Hepworth (@davidhepworth) October 20, 2020
We are sad to hear of the passing of guitarist Spencer Davis.
The Spencer Davis Group's hit 'Keep On Running' knocked 'We Can Work It Out/Day Tripper' off the top of the UK charts in 1966 – leading @thebeatles to congratulate the band via telegram.
RIP Spencer. 💙 pic.twitter.com/rjuOgXQ6tI
— The Beatles Story (@beatlesstory) October 20, 2020