Monday, January 21, 2008

The Spencer Davis Group: I'm a Man

This week's Sunday video has turned into a Monday video.

Complete with subtitles, this performance comes from Finnish TV and 1966. Which means that Steve Winwood, the keyboard player and vocalist, was 17 or 18. How is that for talent?

And he started even younger. In an article in Mojo magazine a few years ago, his older brother Muff (later a top A&R man) remembered joining a trad jazz band:
"We needed a piano player so I brought Steve along. He was only 11, but he played everything perfectly. They stood with their mouths open. Because he was under-age, we had to get him long trousers to make him look older, and even then we'd sneak him in through the pub kitchens. He'd play hidden behind the piano so nobody would know."
But it wasn't always easy being a prodigy. The same article records Steve's own memories:
By April, '63, they had become the Spencer Davis Rhythm 'n' Blues Quartet. "We were making about 30 quid a night between us - not bad, especially if we did 2 gigs on Saturday," muses Winwood. "The average wage then was about 20 pounds a week, so this was good money."
Inevitably, though, there were repercussions. "I got kicked out of school. The headmaster stood up in assembly and said, 'Somebody's been burning the candle at both ends and I won't have it.' "
Now read about the Spencer Davis Group's movie.

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