Steve Winwood – Professional Debut At 15
Yes, It’s true Steve Winwood makes his professional debut in 1963 when he’s 15 with the “Spencer Davis Group”. That said, the band has several hits already under their belt. Such as “Gimme Some Lovin’”, “I’m A Man”, and “Keep On Running”. The international success of these singles bolsters his confidence and strengthens his resolve to seek out new opportunities.
It’s at this time in 1967 that he leaves the Spencer Davis Group and co-founded the band Traffic. While most of us have no clue what we want to do at 15 or 18, here you have a guy that’s already a professional musician. The reason for the change? He wants to explore some new avenues.
Winwood – The Traffic Years
Comprised of Steve Winwood, Jim Capaldi, Chris Wood and Dave Mason, the band “Traffic” forms in 1967. Their sound leans more towards heavy prog and a psychedelic sound. What makes them great is that they have a lot of diversity and instrumentation in their songs. Using various instruments like keyboards, harpsichord, sitar, a mellotron and reed instruments mixed with improvisational jazz. The quartet leaves quite an imprint in the music scene. In 1968 shortly after the release of “Dear Mr. Fantasy”, Dave Mason decides to leave due to artistic differences.
While Winwood and Capaldi want to go in a different direction. More like a folk and blues side of things Mason wants to continue the psychedelic aspect. He came back for a few months in 1968, long enough to contribute a majority of the songs on their second album, Traffic. Also during this time, Winwood and Wood perform with Jimi Hendrix and appear on “The Jimi Hendrix Experience’s” 1968 double album Electric Ladyland. While things seem to be going well, Windwood decides to leave Traffic and in 1969 the band is dissolved.
The Supergroup Blind Faith
So, Steve Winwood joins Ginger Baker, Eric Clapton and later on Rick Gretch to create what is hailed as Rock’s first Supergroup Blind Faith. Seriously, can it get any better than this combination? The first gig for this newly formed band is to an estimated crowd of 100.000 fans in Hyde Park, London. Disappointed at the fact that they didn’t rehearse enough for live shows they perform music from Cream and Traffic and shortly after start feeling disillusioned while the fans were ecstatic about this situation. I can only ponder on the musicianship, chemistry and dynamics of this band! Wow!
They realize that they’re in a conundrum and start distancing themselves from each other. That being said, the band splits up immediately after their last performance on the tour. Despite the breakup, Clapton and Winwood would later collaborate on several occasions. Their only album, Blind Faith still dazzled the critics and is a #1 album. For those of you who were privy to see this supergroup while they are together…You are very lucky and we’re so jealous!
The Reformation Of Traffic
In 1970, Steve reformed Traffic with Jim Capaldi and Chris Wood and guides a highly successful run with the innovative albums ‘The Low Spark Of High Heeled Boys’, ‘John Barleycorn Must Die’, and ‘Shoot Out At The Fantasy Factory’. They are considered the most important British groups of the 1960’s and 1970’s. By 1975, Traffic splinters as the allure of solo projects and new creative partnerships prove too tempting to resist.
Steve Winwood – Goes Solo
1977’s solo debut ’Steve Winwood’ releases and signals a smart direction as a solo artist. Shortly after is the the creation of Steve’s landmark solo albums including ‘Arc Of A Diver’, the three-time Grammy-Award-Winning ‘Back In The High Life’, and the Grammy-award-winning ’Roll With It’ and many more releases still to this day.
Steve Winwood – Moving Forward
To date, Winwood is still an in-demand session player, who continues to work on creative projects with other artists (way too many to name). As well as touring all over the world. After everything this great musician has accomplished, you would think he’d eventually retire and enjoy the rest of his life.
But something tells me that his artistic and creative endeavors is what he enjoys the most and will continue to embrace. Furthermore, he’s a legendary musician that has something for everyone in his musical repertoire. Whether you’re young or old, this is an artist for all age groups to consider.
He remains one of the most important and influential artists in all of popular music.
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