Thursday, December 01, 2022

The first newspaper mention of Steve Winwood

I've searched the British Newspaper Archive and this is the earliest mention I can find of Steve (or Stevie) Winwood. It comes from the Birmingham Mail for 3 December 1963.

The books say the Spencer Davis Group was originally called the Rhythm and Blues Quartet, but it seems that in practice two names were given prominence even above the name of the band.

Where space allows in small ads, the band's billing was:

Spencer Davies. Steve Winwood.
R & B Quartet

But here, where they had to get a second act in, just names were used. And at 15 years of age Steve Winwood already had his name above the name of the group too.

Spencer Davies, incidentally, dropped the i from his name so the English could pronounce it properly - a little like John Bongiovi becoming Jon Bon Jovi. There are later advertisements where he is still called Davies, but in this one he is already Davis.

When the band decided they needed a better name, the Spencer Davis Group was chosen in line with a jazz tradition of naming the band after its leader rather than its greatest virtuoso.

The books say the Winwood brothers liked the new name because Spencer, who enjoyed talking to the press, could do the interviews while they stayed in bed.

And, as it turned out, the Spencer Davis Group was a clever name in that in sounded sort of American and even sort of black. 

Legend has it that they had to make a promotional film to persuade white American radio stations that they should be playing them.


  1. That takes me back! In the mid-late 60s the Bromley Court hotel hosted bands and amongst the earliest I remember was the Spencer Davies Group. I am amazed to discover that Davies lived to be 81. I remember him as a rather large man, well fat to be honest.

  2. Thanks for your memories, Matt. Here is Spencer Davis singing in 1967 - I think your memory inflated him a little.