(CelebrityAccess) – Spencer Davis, a Welsh multi-instrumentalist, singer-songwriter, best known as the leader of the Spencer Davis Group, has died. He was 81.
A cause of death for Davis has not been disclosed but the Guardian reported that he died will being treated for pneumonia in hospital.
Born Spencer David Nelson Davies, his early musical influences included a health dose of American blues and jazz, prompting Davis to form a band called The Saints, with Bill Perks, later known as Bill Wyman, and who would go on to be the bassist for the Rolling Stones.
In 1963, he teamed up with Muff and Steve Winwood, and Peter York to form a rhythm and blues quartet the Spencer Davis Group and the quickly scored back to back number 1 hits in 1966 and “Keep On Running” and “Somebody Help Me.”
They followed up their initial success in 1967 with “I’m A Man” but time was up for the group and Steve Winwood left that same year to join the band Traffic. The Spencer Davis Group went on to record additional albums before splitting in 1969.
Davis reformed the group several times with varying lineups and they toured in later years, under Davis’ direction.
Following the dissolution of the Spencer Davis Group, Davis relocated to Los Angeles and recorded an album It’s Been So Long with Peter Jameson before he launched a solo career but eventually, he returned to the UK.
In the 1990s, Davis formed several supergroups, including the Classic Rock All-Stars, and World Classic Rockers with former Eagles bassist Randy Meisner, singer Bobby Kimball and guitarist Denny Laine.
In addition to his work as a musician, Davis also did penance as a label exec, working in promotion at Island Records, where he worked with former Spencer Davis Group member Steve Winwood.
Artists who paid tribute to Davis after news of his passing broke include Gary Kemp of Spandau Ballet who tweeted: “He led a magnificent band, one of the greats of the 60s, along with Muff and Steve Winwood. Keep in [sic] Running and Gimme Some Lovin’ were R&B classics. He drove soul into the white rock sound of the time.”
Steve Winwood said: “I’ve known Spencer since I was about 13, he would have been about 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 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 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.
“He was definitely a man with a vision, and one of the pioneers of the British invasion of America in the sixties. I never went to the U.S. with Spencer, but he later embraced America and America embraced him.
“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”