Spencer Davis (July 17, 1939 – October 19, 2020) was born Spencer David Nelson Davies, and was a Welsh multi-instrument musician and founder of the Spencer Davis Group.
Spencer Davis was born in Swansea, South-West Wales, and began learning to play the accordion and harmonica at the age of six. He attended Dynevor School and was very good at languages. When he was 16 he moved to London and started working for the UK Government before going back to his old school to study for Advanced Levels in languages. In 1960, he moved to Birmingham, to study German at the University of Birmingham.
In music circles, Spencer Davis was later known as “Professor”
Spencer’s varied early musical influences included skiffle, jazz and blues, and he was influenced by musicians inluding Big Bill Broonzy, Buddy Holly, John Martyn, Alexis Korner and Long John Baldry. By the time he was 16, Spencer Davis was hooked on the guitar and American rhythm and blues music.
In 1963, Spencer Davis went to the Golden Eagle in Birmingham to see the Muff Wood Jazz band, a traditional jazz band featuring Muff Winwood and a teenager called Steve Winwood. Spencer Davis persuaded them to join him and drummer Pete York as the Rhythm and Blues Quartet, with Spencer on guitar, vocals and harmonica, Steve Winwood on guitar, organ and vocals, Muff Winwood on bass and Pete York on drums. They adopted the name the Spencer Davis Group because Davis was the only one who liked doing press interviews.
The Spencer Davis group had No 1 hits in the UK with consecutive single releases “Keep On Running” and “Somebody Help Me”, in 1966.
After Steve Winwood left to form Traffic in April 1967, the Spencer Davis Group continued and recorded two more albums before eventually splitting in 1969.
Another version of the group with Spencer Davis and Pete York appeared in 1973 and disbanded again in late 1974. Various incarnations of the band toured in later years under Spencer Davis’ direction.
Spencer Davis moved to California and recorded an acoustic album with Peter Jameson called “It’s Been So Long“, in 1971, hee followed it with another solo album called “Mousetrap”, which was produced by and featured Sneaky Pete Kleinow. Unfortunately, neither of these albums sold well.
Soon after, Spencer moved back to the UK and formed a new version of the Spencer Davis Group. He was also an executive and promoter at Island records in the mid-1970s, working with artiststs including Bob Marley, Robert Palmer and Eddie And The Hot Rods, as well as promoting the solo career of former Spencer Davis Group member Steve Winwood.
In 1993, Spencer Davis formed the supergroup the Class Rock All-Stars, but left in 1995 to form World Classic Rockers with former Eagles bassist Randy Meisner, singer Bobby Kimball, from Toto, and guitarist Denny Laine, from The Moody Blues and Wings.
From the mid-1970s, Spencer Davis lived on Catalina Island, a small island in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of southern California.
Spencer Davis died in Los Angeles on October 19, 2020 from pneumonia, at the age of 81.
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