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Spencer Davis: Steve Winwood pays tribute to former bandmate

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image copyrightGetty Images
image captionWinwood (right) said Davis "was definitely a man with a vision" in the 1960s

Steve Winwood has paid tribute to his former bandmate Spencer Davis, following his death at the age of 81.

Davis recruited Winwood on organ and vocals for The Spencer Davis Group, who had a string of hits in the 1960s.

In a statement on his website, Winwood said Davis was "like a big brother" to him.

"He was influential in setting me on the road to becoming a professional musician, and I thank him for that," he added.

The Spencer Davis Group scored transatlantic hits with Keep On Running and Somebody Help Me.

image copyrightGetty Images
image captionDavis died earlier this week while being treated for pneumonia

Winwood was a teenager when he first met Swansea-born Davis during a gig at Birmingham University.

Davis was nine years older and the pair went on to to form The Spencer Davis Group, who toured with The Who and The Rolling Stones in the 60s. Winwood left the group in 1967 to form rock band Traffic, and went on to have a successful solo career.

"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 said in his statement.

"He influenced my tastes in music, he owned the first 12-string guitar I ever saw.

image captionThe Spencer Davis Group (left-right): Steve Winwood, Spencer Davis, Pete York and Muff Winwood

"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 US with Spencer, but he later embraced America, and America embraced him."

Davis died in hospital on Monday while being treated for pneumonia, his agent told the BBC.

Bob Birk, who worked with Davis for more than 30 years, also paid tribute, describing Davis as "a very good friend".

"He was a highly ethical, very talented, good-hearted, extremely intelligent, generous man. He will be missed."

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  • Spencer Davis, one of rock's elder statesmen, dies aged 81