Saturday, February 02, 2008

Muff Winwood and Sparks

I knew that if I posted enough Sunday music videos I would be able to start finding trivial connections between them.

Go back a few weeks and I chose "This Town Aint Big Enough for the Both of Us" by Sparks. And if you read the history of that song you find this:
Ron Mael and Russell Mael were shocked when producer Muff Winwood and the Island Records company thought “This Town Ain’t Big Enough For Both of Us” was a single. Muff Winwood added the gunshots gimmick in studio and bet his friend Elton John that this song would be a Top 5 hit in Great Britain. Elton John bet no, and lost.
And a couple of weeks ago we saw Muff Winwood as the bass player with the wicked facial hair in the video of "I'm a Man" by the Spencer Davis Group.

Muff - real name Mervyn but known as Muffin after the popular mule of the time - gave up playing when his brother Steve left to form Traffic. He took a job with Island Records and went on to have a distinguished career on the business and production side of music.

It sounds as though Muff decided it was not worth trying to compete with his younger brother as a musician. But, as Spencer Davis tells it, he also owed his entry to the music business to Steve's precocity:

I found a band in the northern suburb of Birmingham, called Erdington. There was a kid playing keyboards and his name was Steve Winwood. His brother Muffin was also in the band. So, I recruited Steve into the band. I didn't care whether Muff came along or not.

But, there was one problem. Steve was underage, driving-wise. So, I said, "That's okay. I'll come and get you." But his brother jumped to the fore, ever sharp and said, "I will switch from guitar to bass and I have a driving license and I will bring him." So, there was the bass player and the two brothers.

More from Steve Winwood soon. I am coming round to the idea that he is the greatest genius British pop has produced.


Mark said...

Wouldn't argue with Winwood being a genius, although perhaps 'prodigy' might be a better word as he barely produced anything worthwhile after Traffic split.

Anonymous said...

I wouldn´t mind reading an interview with Muff Winwood on his pruducer days with the Sparks. I always liked that big, fat sound on Sparks´s "Winwood"-albums.

Markus, Sweden