Spencer Davis, the multi-instrumentalist star of The Spencer Davis Group, has died aged 81. As a member of the chart-topping band, Spencer enjoyed a string of hits in the 1960s including Keep on Running, Gimme Some Lovin’ and I’m A Man.
Spencer reportedly suffered from a heart attack in California yesterday, according to Birmingham Live.
According to reports, the band’s drummer Pete York called his best friend Jim Simpson – the first manager of Black Sabbath and founding director of the ongoing Birmingham International Jazz Festival – confirmed the tragic news today.
Fellow members of The Spencer Davis Group also included Great Barr brothers Muff Winwood and Steve Winwood – who went on to enjoy further acclaim with Traffic and Blind Faith.
Today, the Spencer Davis Group’s music remains widely played amongst fans more than half a century after it was recorded.
Spencer Davis dead: Keep On Running hitmaker dies aged 81
Spencer Davis dead: The Welsh-born star reportedly died from a heart attack
Songs including Gimme Some Lovin’ famously featured on the soundtracks of hit movies The Blues Brothers and Notting Hill.
The Spencer Davis bands music is also due to feature on the soundtrack to newly released film I Am Woman, about the late Helen Reddy.
Following the sad news, tributes have been pouring in for the musician on social media.
One person tweeted: “RIP Spencer Davis of 60s band The Spencer Davis Group.”
Spencer Davis dead: The musician pictured with his bandmates in the Spencer Davis Group
“Flip over those Spencer Davis Group hits and you’ve got a run of superb, hidden UK soul cuts, often with a wonderful jazz edge. A superb group – a sad loss,” another person penned.
A third person commented: “Sad news. Spencer Davis. Legend.”
While another social media user offered: “Saddened to hear that Spencer Davis has passed away aged 81. What a legend he was and one of the nicest guys. Had some incredible stories.”
Welsh-born Spencer started out in music after hearing an American rhythm and blues band play a rare gig in his hometown of Swansea as a teenager.
Spencer Davis dead: The group enjoyed a string of number one hits
He was inspired to form his own group, The Saints, along with friend Bill Perks – later known as Bill Whyman, the bassist for the Rolling Stones.
He then moved to Birmingham to study German at the University of Birmingham where he dated Christine Perfect, who went on to marry Fleetwood Mac’s John McVie.
In 1963, the musician formed the self-titled The Spencer Davis Group after persuading established jazz artists Muff and Steve Windwood to join him and friend Pete York on the project.
They went on to have a string of Number 1 singles including Keep On Running and Somebody Help Me in 1966.
Following their success, the group disbanded in the late 1960s but various incarnations of the band continued to tour, and in recent years under Spencer’s direction.
Speaking about his late friend, Jim told Birmingham Live: “For years I’d been talking with Pete to try get the original Spencer Davis Group back together with Steve, but a couple of years ago Spencer was ill.
“But there’s no question in my mind that The Spencer Davis Group had a huge influence on music in the 1960s and they were one of the most influential of all rhythm and blues bands.”
Jim said Spencer was survived by three children and “girlfriend June who looked after him in his later years.”