Steve Winwood

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Steve Winwood
Stevie Winwood (1970).jpg
Winwood in 1970
Background information
Birth nameStephen Lawrence Winwood
Born (1948-05-12) 12 May 1948 (age 71)
Handsworth, Birmingham, England, United Kingdom
Genres
Occupation(s)
  • Musician
  • songwriter
  • producer
Instruments
  • Vocals
  • keyboards
  • guitar
Years active1963–present
Labels
Associated acts
Website stevewinwood.com

Stephen Lawrence Winwood (born 12 May 1948) is an English singer and musician whose genres include progressive rock, blue-eyed soul, rhythm and blues, blues rock, pop rock, and jazz. Though primarily a vocalist and keyboardist, Winwood also plays a wide variety of other instruments; on several of his solo albums he has played all instrumentation, including drums, mandolin, guitars, bass and saxophone.

Progressive rock is a broad genre of rock music that developed in the United Kingdom and United States throughout the mid- to late 1960s. Initially termed "progressive pop", the style was an outgrowth of psychedelic bands who abandoned standard pop traditions in favour of instrumentation and compositional techniques more frequently associated with jazz, folk, or classical music. Additional elements contributed to its "progressive" label: lyrics were more poetic, technology was harnessed for new sounds, music approached the condition of "art", and the studio, rather than the stage, became the focus of musical activity, which often involved creating music for listening rather than dancing.

Blue-eyed soul is rhythm and blues and soul music performed by white artists. The term was coined in the mid-1960s, to describe white artists who performed soul and R&B that was similar to the music of the Motown and Stax record labels. Though many rhythm and blues radio stations in the United States in that period would play music only by black musicians, some began to play music by white acts considered to have "soul feeling" and their music was then described as "blue-eyed soul".

Rhythm and blues, commonly abbreviated as R&B, is a genre of popular music that originated in African American communities in the 1940s. The term was originally used by record companies to describe recordings marketed predominantly to urban African Americans, at a time when "urbane, rocking, jazz based music with a heavy, insistent beat" was becoming more popular. In the commercial rhythm and blues music typical of the 1950s through the 1970s, the bands usually consisted of piano, one or two guitars, bass, drums, one or more saxophones, and sometimes background vocalists. R&B lyrical themes often encapsulate the African-American experience of pain and the quest for freedom and joy, as well as triumphs and failures in terms of relationships, economics, and aspirations.

Contents

Winwood was a key member of The Spencer Davis Group, Traffic, Blind Faith and Go. He also had a successful solo career with hits including "While You See a Chance", "Valerie", "Back in the High Life Again" and two US Billboard Hot 100 number ones, "Higher Love" and "Roll with It". He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of Traffic in 2004. [1]

The Spencer Davis Group British band

The Spencer Davis Group are a British band formed in Birmingham in 1963, by Spencer Davis (guitar) with Steve Winwood (keyboards) and his brother, Muff Winwood and Pete York (drums). Their best known songs include the UK number ones "Somebody Help Me" and "Keep on Running", "I'm a Man" and "Gimme Some Lovin'", which reached #2 in the UK and #7 in the US.

Traffic (band) English rock band

Traffic were an English rock band, formed in Birmingham, in April 1967 by Steve Winwood, Jim Capaldi, Chris Wood and Dave Mason. They began as a psychedelic rock group and diversified their sound through the use of instruments such as keyboards like the Mellotron and harpsichord, sitar, and various reed instruments, and by incorporating jazz and improvisational techniques in their music. Their first three singles were "Paper Sun", "Hole in My Shoe", and "Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush".

Blind Faith English rock supergroup

Blind Faith were an English supergroup featuring Steve Winwood, Eric Clapton, Ginger Baker, and Ric Grech. The band was eagerly anticipated by the music press as a continuation of Clapton and Baker's former group Cream and Winwood's former group Traffic, but they split after one album and tour.

In 2005 Winwood was honoured as a BMI Icon at the annual BMI London Awards for his "enduring influence on generations of music makers". [2] In 2008, Rolling Stone ranked Winwood No. 33 in its 100 Greatest Singers of All Time. [3] Winwood has won two Grammy Awards. He was nominated twice for a Brit Award for Best British Male Artist: 1988 and 1989. [4] [5] In 2011 he received the Ivor Novello Award from the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors for Outstanding Song Collection. [6]

<i>Rolling Stone</i> American magazine focusing on popular culture, based in New York City

Rolling Stone is an American monthly magazine that focuses on popular culture. It was founded in San Francisco, California in 1967 by Jann Wenner, who is still the magazine's publisher, and the music critic Ralph J. Gleason. It was first known for its musical coverage and for political reporting by Hunter S. Thompson. In the 1990s, the magazine shifted focus to a younger readership interested in youth-oriented television shows, film actors, and popular music. In recent years, it has resumed its traditional mix of content.

Grammy Award Accolade by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences of the United States

A Grammy Award, or Grammy, is an award presented by The Recording Academy to recognize achievements in the music industry. The annual presentation ceremony features performances by prominent artists, and the presentation of those awards that have a more popular interest. The Grammys are the second of the Big Three major music awards held annually.

Early life

Stephen Lawrence Winwood [7] was born on 12 May 1948 [8] in Handsworth, Birmingham. [9] His father, Lawrence, a foundryman by trade, was a semi-professional musician, playing mainly the saxophone and clarinet.

Handsworth, West Midlands district of Birmingham, England, formerly in Staffordshire.

Handsworth is now an inner city, urban area of northwest Birmingham in the West Midlands. Handsworth lies just outside Birmingham City Centre.

The young Winwood became interested in swing and Dixieland jazz as a boy, began playing piano when aged four, and also soon started playing drums and guitar. He first performed with his father and his elder brother, Muff, in the Ron Atkinson Band at the age of eight. [10]

Swing music, or simply swing, is a form of popular music developed in the United States that dominated in the 1930s and 1940s. The name swing came from the 'swing feel' where the emphasis is on the off–beat or weaker pulse in the music. Swing bands usually featured soloists who would improvise on the melody over the arrangement. The danceable swing style of big bands and bandleaders such as Benny Goodman was the dominant form of American popular music from 1935 to 1946, a period known as the swing era. The verb "to swing" is also used as a term of praise for playing that has a strong groove or drive. Notable musicians of the swing era include Louis Armstrong, Louis Prima, Larry Clinton, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Benny Goodman, Artie Shaw, Glenn Miller, Woody Herman, Tommy Dorsey, Jimmy Dorsey, Harry James, Louis Jordan, and Cab Calloway.

Muff Winwood British musician

Mervyn "Muff" Winwood is an English songwriter and record producer, and the older brother of Steve Winwood. Both were formerly members of the Spencer Davis Group in the 1960s, in which Muff Winwood played bass guitar. He produced the first Dire Straits album, Dire Straits (1978).

Muff later recalled that when Steve began playing regularly with his father and brother in licensed pubs and clubs, the piano had to be turned with its back to the audience to try and hide him, because he was so obviously underage. [11]

Winwood was a choirboy at St John's Church of England, Perry Barr. While he was still young the family moved from Handsworth to the semi-rural suburb of Great Barr at the northern edge of Birmingham city. [12]

Winwood attended the Great Barr School which was one of the first comprehensive schools, where a teacher recalled him being a conscientious and able student who displayed ability in mathematics. He also attended the Birmingham and Midland Institute of Music to develop his skills as a pianist, but did not complete his course. [13]

Career

Early years

Winwood with Spencer Davis Group (Amsterdam, 1966) SpencerDavisGroup1966RonKroon2.jpg
Winwood with Spencer Davis Group (Amsterdam, 1966)

While still a pupil at Great Barr School, Winwood was a part of the Birmingham rhythm and blues scene, playing the Hammond C-3 organ and guitar, backing blues singers such as Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker, T-Bone Walker, Howlin' Wolf, B.B. King, Sonny Boy Williamson II, Eddie Boyd, Otis Spann, Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley on their United Kingdom tours, the custom at that time being for US singers to travel solo and be backed by pick-up bands. At this time, Winwood was living on Atlantic Road in Great Barr, close to the Birmingham music halls where he played. Winwood modelled his singing after Ray Charles. [12]

The Spencer Davis Group

Winwood (still known as "Stevie" Winwood then) joined The Spencer Davis Group at the age of 14, [14] along with his elder brother Muff, who later had success as a record producer, after Davis saw them at a Birmingham pub called the Golden Eagle, performing as the Muffy Wood Jazz Band. [15] The Group made their debut at the 'Eagle and subsequently had a Monday-night residency there. [16] Winwood's distinctive high tenor singing voice and vocal style drew comparisons to Ray Charles. [17]

In 1964 they signed their first recording contract with Island Records. Chris Blackwell later said of Winwood "He was really the cornerstone of Island Records. He's a musical genius and because he was with Island all the other talent really wanted to be with Island." [18]

The group had their first number one single at the end of 1965, with "Keep on Running"; [19] the money from this success allowed Winwood to buy his own Hammond B-3 organ. [12] Winwood would go on to co-write and record the chart-topping hits "Gimme Some Lovin'" and "I'm a Man" before leaving The Spencer Davis Group in 1967. [20]

Eric Clapton and the Powerhouse

During this time[ when? ] Winwood joined forces with guitarist Eric Clapton as part of the one-off group Eric Clapton and the Powerhouse. Songs were recorded for the Elektra label, but only three tracks made the 1966 compilation album, What's Shakin' .

Traffic, Blind Faith and Ginger Baker's Air Force

Winwood with Traffic Steve Winwood with Traffic.jpg
Winwood with Traffic

Winwood met drummer Jim Capaldi, guitarist Dave Mason, and multi-instrumentalist Chris Wood when they jammed together at The Elbow Room, a club in Aston, Birmingham. [21] After Winwood left the Spencer Davis Group in April 1967, the quartet formed Traffic. [22] Soon thereafter, they rented a cottage near the rural village of Aston Tirrold, Berkshire (now Oxfordshire) to write and rehearse new music. [21] This allowed them to escape the city and develop their music. [23]

Early in Traffic's formation, Winwood and Capaldi formed a songwriting partnership, with Winwood writing music to match Capaldi's lyrics. This partnership was the source of most of Traffic's material, including popular songs such as "Paper Sun" and "The Low Spark of High-Heeled Boys", and outlived the band, producing several songs for Winwood and Capaldi's solo albums. Over the band's history, Winwood performed the majority of their lead vocals, keyboard instruments, and guitars. He also frequently played bass and percussion, up to and including the recording sessions for their fourth album. [24] While still in Traffic, Winwood was brought in by Jimi Hendrix to play organ for "Voodoo Chile" on the Electric Ladyland album. [25] [26]

Winwood formed the supergroup Blind Faith in 1969 with Eric Clapton, Ginger Baker and Ric Grech. [27]

The band was short-lived, owing to Clapton's greater interest in Blind Faith's opening act Delaney & Bonnie & Friends; Clapton left the band at the tour's end. However, Baker, Winwood and Grech stayed together to form Ginger Baker's Air Force. The line-up consisted of 3/4 of Blind Faith (without Clapton, who was replaced by Denny Laine), 2/3 of Traffic (Winwood and Chris Wood, minus Capaldi) plus musicians who interacted with Baker in his early days, including Phil Seamen, Harold McNair, John Blood and Graham Bond. [28]

However, the project turned out to be short-lived. Winwood soon went into the studio to begin work on a new solo album, tentatively titled Mad Shadows. However, Winwood ended up calling in Wood and Capaldi to help with session work, which prompted Traffic's comeback album John Barleycorn Must Die in 1970. [28]

In 1972, Winwood recorded the part of Captain Walker in the highly successful orchestral version of The Who's Tommy. He recorded a 1973 album with Remi Kabaka, Aiye-Keta, for Antilles Records, and in 1976 provided vocals and keyboards on Go, a concept album by Japanese composer Stomu Yamashta. [29] In 1976, Winwood also played guitar on the Fania All Stars' Delicate and Jumpy record and performed as a guest with the band in their only UK appearance, a sold-out concert at the Lyceum Theatre, London. [30] [31]

Solo career

Weariness with the grind of touring and recording prompted Winwood to leave Traffic and retire to sessioning for some years. [32] Under pressure from Island Records, he resurfaced with his self-titled first solo album in 1977. This was followed by his 1980 hit Arc of a Diver (which included his first solo hit, "While You See a Chance") and Talking Back to the Night in 1982.[ citation needed ]

Both albums were recorded at his home in Gloucestershire with Winwood playing all instruments. He continued to do sessions during this period, and in 1983 he co-produced and played on Jim Capaldi's top 40 hit "That's Love" and co-wrote the Will Powers top 20 hit "Kissing with Confidence".[ citation needed ]

In 1986 he moved to New York. There he enlisted the help of a coterie of stars to record Back in the High Life in the US, and the album was a hit. He topped the Billboard Hot 100 with "Higher Love," and earned two Grammy Awards: for Record of the Year and Best Male Pop Vocal Performance.

Winwood embarked on an extensive tour of North America in support of the album. [33]

All these albums were released on Island Records. However, at the peak of his commercial success, Winwood moved to Virgin Records and released Roll with It and Refugees of the Heart . The album Roll with It and the title track hit No. 1 on the USA album and singles charts in the summer of 1988. Another album with Virgin, Far from Home , was officially credited to Traffic, but nearly all the instruments were played by Winwood. Despite lacking a significant hit, it broke the top 40 in both the UK and USA. [34] [35]

His final Virgin album Junction Seven also broke the UK top 40. [36]

A new studio album, Nine Lives , was released 29 April 2008 by Wincraft Music through Columbia Records. [37] [38] The album opened at No. 12 on the Billboard 200 album chart, [39] his highest US debut ever.

In 2008, he was awarded an honorary doctorate from the Berklee College of Music to add to his honorary degree from Aston University, Birmingham. On 28 March 2012 Winwood was one of Roger Daltrey's special guest stars for "An Evening with Roger Daltrey and Friends" gig, in aid of the Teenage Cancer Trust at the Royal Albert Hall. [40]

In 2013 Winwood toured North America with Rod Stewart as part of the "Live the Life" tour. In 2014, Winwood toured North America with Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers. [ citation needed ]

Group work

Winwood in Knoxville, Tennessee (2005) Steve Winwood scottfisher.JPG
Winwood in Knoxville, Tennessee (2005)

In 1994, Capaldi and Winwood reunited Traffic for a new album, Far From Home, and a tour, including a performance at Woodstock '94 Festival. That same year, Winwood appeared on the A Tribute To Curtis Mayfield CD, recording Mayfield's "It's All Right".[ citation needed ]

In 1995 and 1996, Winwood released Reach for the Light for the animated film Balto . In 1997, Winwood released a new album, Junction Seven , toured the US and sang with Chaka Khan at the VH-1 Honors. [41]

In 1998, Winwood joined Tito Puente, Arturo Sandoval, Ed Calle and other musicians to form the band "Latin Crossings" for a European tour, after which they split without making any recordings. Winwood also appeared in the film Blues Brothers 2000 , as a member of the Louisiana Gator Boys, appearing on stage with Isaac Hayes, Eric Clapton, and KoKo Taylor at the battle of the bands competition. [ citation needed ]

In 2003, Winwood released a new studio album, About Time on his new record label, Wincraft Music. 2004 saw his 1982 song "Valerie" used by Eric Prydz in a song called "Call on Me." It spent five weeks at No. 1 on the UK singles chart. Winwood heard an early version of Prydz's remix and liked it so much, he not only gave permission to use the song, he re-recorded the samples for Prydz to use. [42]

In 2005, his Soundstage Performances DVD was released, featuring recent work from the About Time album along with prior hits including "Back in the High Life." Winwood also performed hits from his days with Traffic as well as current recordings. In 2005, he accepted an invitation from 2008 Grammy Award winner Ashley Cleveland to appear on her album Men and Angels Say.

This album of rock, blues and country arrangements of well known hymns includes "I Need Thee Every Hour"—which features a vocal duet and organ performance. Christina Aguilera features Winwood (using the piano and organ instrumentation from the "John Barleycorn" track, "Glad") on one of her songs from her 2006 record Back to Basics , called "Makes Me Wanna Pray." [ citation needed ]

The Steve Winwood Band in 2009 on tour Steve Winwood Band.jpg
The Steve Winwood Band in 2009 on tour

In May 2007, Winwood performed in support of the pro-fox hunting organisation the Countryside Alliance in a concert at Highclere Castle, joining fellow rock artists Bryan Ferry, Eric Clapton, Steve Harley and Kenney Jones. [43]

In July 2007, Winwood performed with Clapton in the latter's Crossroads Guitar Festival. Among the songs they played together were "Presence of the Lord" and "Can't Find My Way Home" from their Blind Faith days. Winwood played several guitar leads in a six-song set. The two continued their collaboration with three sold-out nights at Madison Square Garden in New York City in February 2008. [44]

On 19 February 2008, Winwood and Clapton released a collaborative EP through iTunes titled Dirty City . Clapton and Winwood released a CD and DVD of their Madison Square Garden shows and then toured together in the summer of 2009. [45]

Personal life

Between 1978 and 1986 Winwood was married to Nicole Weir (d. 2005), who had contributed background vocals to some of his early solo work. The two married at Cheltenham Register Office. [46]

Winwood's primary residence is a 300-year-old manor house in the Cotswolds, England, where he also has a recording studio. Winwood also has a home in Nashville, Tennessee, with his wife, Eugenia Crafton, a native of Trenton, Tennessee, whom he married in 1987. They have four children. [47] [48] [49] Both were Patrons of the Cheltenham Festivals of music and literature between 2007 and 2015.

His daughter Lilly Winwood is a singer; she was featured with him performing a duet of his song "Higher Love" in a Hershey commercial. [50] Lilly Winwood is the opening act and sings backup on multiple songs during Steve Winwood's 2018 Greatest Hits Live tour. [51]

Discography

Solo

Winwood at the Hangout Music Festival, May 2012 Steve Windwood toy2, Hangout Music Festival 2012.jpg
Winwood at the Hangout Music Festival, May 2012

Spencer Davis Group

see The Spencer Davis Group discography

Traffic

see Traffic discography

Blind Faith

Ginger Baker's Air Force

Third World

Go

Eric Clapton/Steve Winwood

Session work

Related Research Articles

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Jim Capaldi English musician and songwriter

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Dave Mason British musician

David Thomas Mason is an English singer-songwriter and guitarist from Worcester, who first found fame with the rock band Traffic. Over the course of his career, Mason has played and recorded with many notable pop and rock musicians, including Paul McCartney, George Harrison, the Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Michael Jackson, David Crosby, Graham Nash, Steve Winwood, Fleetwood Mac, Delaney & Bonnie, Leon Russell and Cass Elliot. One of Mason's best known songs is "Feelin' Alright", recorded by Traffic in 1968 and later by many other performers, including Joe Cocker, whose version of the song was a hit in 1969. For Traffic, he also wrote "Hole in My Shoe", a psychedelic pop song that became a hit in its own right. "We Just Disagree", Mason's 1977 solo US hit, written by Jim Krueger, has become a staple of US classic hits and adult contemporary radio playlists.

"Dear Mr. Fantasy" is a rock song by Traffic from their 1967 album, Mr. Fantasy. An extended live version (10:57) of the song also appears on the 1971 Traffic album Welcome to the Canteen. The lyrics were written by Jim Capaldi, while the music was written by Steve Winwood and Chris Wood.

Chris Wood (rock musician) member of the English rock band Traffic

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<i>When the Eagle Flies</i> 1974 studio album by Traffic

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<i>Eric Claptons Rainbow Concert</i> 1973 live album by Eric Clapton

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Spencer Davis British musician

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Eric Clapton and the Powerhouse was a British blues rock studio group formed in 1966. They recorded three songs, which were released on the Elektra Records sampler album What's Shakin' in 1966. A possible fourth song remained unreleased.

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<i>Winwood</i> (album) 1971 compilation album by Steve Winwood

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