Rock Guitarist Spencer Davis Dies At 81

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Spencer Davis, whose eponymous band had hits like “Somebody Help Me” and “Keep on Running,” died Monday while being treated for pneumonia in hospital. He was 81.

Formed in 1963 in Birmingham, England, the Spencer Davis Group – which also included Steve Winwood, his brother Muff Winwood and Pete York – toured with The Who and The Rolling Stones.

"Spencer was an early pioneer of the British folk scene, which, in his case embraced folk blues, and eventually what was then called 'Rhythm and Blues,'" Winwood shared, in a message on his website. "He influenced my tastes in music ... I’d already got a big brother who influenced me greatly, and Spencer became like a big brother to me at the time.

"He was definitely a man with a vision, and one of the pioneers of the British invasion of America in the sixties. I never went to the U.S. with Spencer, but he later embraced America, and America embraced him. I feel that he was influential in setting me on the road to becoming a professional musician, and I thank him for that."

Davis was born in Wales and took an early interest in music. He eventually formed a band with Bill Wyman (who went on to join The Rolling Stones) and performed folk music with Christine Perfect (who became Fleetwood Mac’s Christine McVie).

After scoring hits with covers of Jackie Edwards’ “Keep On Running” and “Somebody Help Me,” the Spencer Davis Group released original singles “I’m A Man” and “Gimme Some Lovin’” – the latter covered by The Blues Brothers in 1980.

The group disbanded shortly after Steve Winwood left in 1967 to form Traffic and Davis had a short-lived solo career. He later launched a new version of The Spencer Davis Group.

Davis is survived by long-time partner June and three adult children.

This article has been updated since it was first published.

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