Spencer Davis, the British singer and pop-rock star who founded the Spencer Davis Group and was behind ’60s hits such as “Gimme Some Lovin'” and “I’m Your Man,” has died. He was 81.
The Welsh guitarist was a big part of the beat movement in Britain, and his band provided an early career launching point for a young Steve Winwood. Their R&B-influenced sound scored three different hits in the U.S. as part of the British Invasion, starting with the song “Keep On Running,” a cover of a song by the performer Jackie Edwards.
Davis died in the hospital on Monday while being treated for pneumonia, according to his agent via the BBC.
Davis and his band, including Winwood on organ, Peter York on drums and his brother Muff Davis on bass, toured with The Rolling Stones and The Who throughout the ’60s. They formed in 1963 and changed their name from The Rhythm & Blues Quartet in 1964 and made Davis the frontman. And in 1966 when “Keep On Running” knocked The Beatles’ single “We Can Work It Out”/”Day Tripper” from the top of the UK charts, Davis received a telegram of congratulations from the band.
Davis was inspired by blues and skiffle music and early on in his career performed in bands with Rolling Stones member Bill Wyman and Fleetwood Mac member Christine McVie.
In film and TV, Davis also starred with The Spencer Davis Group in a 1966 musical comedy called “The Ghost Goes Gear” and even made a cameo in The Beatles’ “Magical Mystery Tour” film.” And under a pseudonym, Davis and the band performed the theme song for a children’s’ series called “Magpie.”
The band disbanded after a brief stint of success in 1967 when Winwood quit to form his band Traffic, and Davis pursued a career at a music label in artist development at Island Records, promoting artists like Bob Marley, Robert Palmer and Winwood himself in his solo career.
Davis continued to tour under the Spencer Davis Group for the remainder of his career, playing as many as 200 shows a year.