The Spencer Davis Group

The Spencer Davis Group  are a British rock band formed in Birmingham in 1963, by Spencer Davis with Steve Winwood and his brother, Muff Winwood.  Their best known songs include the UK number ones “Somebody Help Me” and “Keep on Running” (both written by reggae musician Jackie Edwards), “I’m a Man” and “Gimme Some Lovin’”, which peaked at #2 in the UK, and #7 in the United States.  Steve Winwood left in 1967 to form Traffic before joining Blind Faith, then forging a career as a solo artist.  After releasing a few more singles, the band ceased activity in 1968.  They briefly reunited from 1973 to 1974, and Davis has since restarted a new group in 2006.  (More from Wikipedia)

To some extent at least, the formation of Cream grew out of an English all-star band called the Powerhouse that was assembled solely to provide music for a 1966 compilation album called What’s Shakin’ that announced the arrival of Elektra Records in Great Britain.  Bandmembers included Eric Clapton (guitar); Jack Bruce (bass guitar) and Paul Jones (harmonica) from Manfred Mann; Stevie Winwood (lead vocals) and Pete York (drums) from the Spencer Davis Group; and Ben Palmer (piano), who had briefly been in a band with Clapton in 1965.  Ginger Baker was originally slated to be the drummer for the group but was unavailable.  This remarkable line-up included two members of Cream (and almost all three), plus two future members of Blind Faith (Clapton and Winwood).  What’s more, Cream later recorded two of the only three songs ever made by this assemblage, Robert Johnson’s “Crossroads” and an instrumental called “Steppin’ Out” that Eric Clapton had previously performed while in John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers.  The artist on these two songs was listed as Eric Clapton & the Powerhouse.  The third song, “I Want to Know” was credited to MacLeod, an evident reference to Paul Jones’ wife Sheila MacLeodTen Years After included “I Want to Know” on their first album, Ten Years After that was released in late 1967.   


*       *       *


In the same time period, Stevie Winwood was feeling hamstrung in the Spencer Davis Group, where he had been their lead singer for years.  He had wanted to introduce a more experimental, jazz-inflected sound into the band; eventually he left the group and formed his own band called Traffic in 1967


(May 2014)


Last edited: March 22, 2021