Spencer Davis, Bandleader of The Spencer Davis Group, Dies at 81: 'A Man with a Vision'

The Spencer Davis Group produced 1960s rock hits such as "Gimme Some Lovin'" and "Keep on Running"

Spencer Davis
Photo: Dimitris Legakis/Shutterstock

Spencer Davis, the bandleader of The Spencer Davis Group who produced hits such as "Gimme Some Lovin'" and "Keep On Running" has died. He was 81.

Davis died on Monday while he was being treated for pneumonia, according to his tour manager and friend, Bob Birk, per NPR. The New York Times adds that Davis had been hospitalized for the last week in Los Angeles.

Birk, who worked with the musician for decades, told NPR in a statement that Davis was a "highly ethical, very talented, good-hearted, extremely intelligent, generous man."

Steve Winwood, a previous member of The Spencer Davis Group, also paid tribute to Davis, calling him an "early pioneer of the British folk scene," and crediting him with influencing his tastes in music.

"He was definitely a man with a vision, and one of the pioneers of the British invasion of America in the sixties," Winwood added in his statement.

Spencer Davis Group
Cyrus Andrews/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty

Davis was born on July 17, 1939, in Swansea, Wales, where he first sang in a boys' choir before he became influenced by jazz and rhythm and blues in his college years, NPR reports.

Later in 1964, along with Pete York, Winwood and his brother Muff Winwood, the group formed a band known as the Rhythm and Blues Quartet. The band’s name was later changed to the Spencer Davis Group in 1964, the NYT adds, where the group garnered success with several rock hits throughout the decade.

After Winwood left to form Traffic in 1967, the group recorded two follow-up records before eventually splitting up in 1969, according to Rolling Stone. Another version of the group with Davis and York formed years later before disbanding once again.

Per a press bio, Davis moved to the United States in 1970, where he formed an acoustic blues band. He also worked as an executive at Island Records in the mid-'70s, working hand in hand with artists including Bob Marley and Robert Palmer, before he led the independent Hollywood record label A&R for Allegiance Records in the early 1980s.

His music career carried on and lasted throughout the years, where his love and passion for music kept him going.

Other stars also paid tribute to the late rocker, including musicians Gary Kemp and Michael Des Barres.

In his tribute post, Kemp, 61, shared, "RIP Spencer Davis. He led a magnificent band, one of the greats of the '60s, along with Muff and Steve Winwood."

"Keep [on] Running and Gimme Some Lovin’ we’re [sic] r&b classics. He drove soul into the white rock sound of the time," he added."

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Des Barres, 72, similarly shared a sentimental message on social media, where he said that Davis "will be remembered for a lot more than discovering Steve Winwood."

"He and a handful of others created British blues," he wrote. "A great musician & executive. He exemplified the notion that a nice guy can survive in a 3 chord world."

Davis' survivors include his partner, June Dante; three children, Lisa, Sarah and Gareth; and five grandchildren.

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