Monday, August 10, 2020

Three early glimpses of Steve Winwood

These are the fruits of some recent googling of this blog's musical hero.

First, proof that music pulls the girls no matter what from the anonymous writer of Scribblings:

Just before my family moved south to Sussex I went, with a couple of friends, to their youth club at Great Barr Comprehensive. There was a kid standing at the piano over in the corner of the gymnasium whilst the rest of us were playing table tennis or snooker. 

He must have been one of the last people at his school to switch from shorts to long trousers. Usually, I'm sure most blokes will confirm, moving from primary school - shorts - to secondary school - long trousers - it's a given... a rite of passage... definitely. That's when it happens. 

But this kid's mum didn't seem bothered by that because this kid was skilfully knocking out 'What'd I Say?' with a gaggle of girls around him... whilst he was wearing short trousers... A very incongruous vision. Well done Steve Winwood! Within just a few months I paid 2/6d to see him fronting The Spencer Davis Group.

Embed from Getty Images

After that, as Winwood once told the Manchester Evening News, it became harder to combine school with being a professional musician:

Just the mention of Manchester’s legendary Twisted Wheel club sets Steve Winwood reminiscing. “I remember it well,” says Birmingham-born Winwood.

“I was at school and we, The Spencer Davis Group,  would travel up on a Saturday evening to play there. It was an all-nighter, so we’d get out about three or four in the morning and we’d doss on someone’s floor.

"Then the next show we’d do was The Place at Stoke-on-Trent on the Sunday on the way back to Birmingham. Then I’d get back, not having had much sleep and had to get up on the Monday morning and go to school.”

Yes, Winwood began touring the music clubs – with a group which would go on to have a string of hits –  from the tender age of 14. 

In the same interview he offered some thoughts on why white British kids took to the blues:

“It was a strange situation, why these spotty English kids ended up playing blues from the Mississippi,” says Winwood. “A lot of the words I was singing I didn’t understand: ‘mojo working’, ‘black cat bone’.

“What happened was that there was an emotion and a power in this music that teenagers identified with. There was a rawness. We’d had the Fifties pop which was very polished and squeaky clean, and then this blues came along which had what Jim Capaldi (drummer with Traffic) would have called ‘bacteria’ in it. It appealed to youth of the day who were looking for something different.”

Finally, a memory of those days from Twitter:

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