"Looking for a wider artistic palette"
Winwood was just a teenager when he rocketed into the international spotlight as the prodigious singer of the Spencer Davis Group (which also featured his brother Muff on bass). The blues and R&B-influenced rock of “Gimme Some Lovin’” and “I’m a Man” stood among the leading hits at the peak of the British Invasion, Winwood’s singing drawing comparisons to that of his idol Ray Charles - despite his tender age. Looking for a wider artistic palette, in 1967 he headed to the countryside with friends Jim Capaldi, Chris Wood and Dave Mason, F
Forging the collective spirit into Traffic, producing some of the most inventive and durable works of the psychedelic-tinged late-”60s.
In 1969 he and Clapton, having worked together briefly in the short-lived Powerhouse project, formed Blind Faith with Clapton’s Cream-mate, drummer Ginger Baker, and bass player Rick Grech, though the “supergroup” lasted just one acclaimed album and tour. Intending to mix English folk styles along with jazz and rock, Winwood started work on what was meant as his first solo album, but ultimately enlisted Capaldi and Wood in a reconvened Traffic for the landmark John Barleycorn Must Die album. An expanded Traffic lineup (including African percussionist Reebop Kwaku Baah) went on to make two of the most arresting albums of the early ’70s in The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys and Shoot Out At the Fantasy Factory, expanding on the jazz and world music elements. A scaled-back line-up brought the Traffic era to a close with 1974’s When the Eagle Flies. With 1977’s Steve Winwood, a rich solo career launched in earnest. Arc of a Diver (1980) featured the hit “While You See a Chance”, and subsequent solo albums Talking Back to the Night (1982), Back in the High Life (1986), and Roll With It (1988) produced era-defining songs including “Valerie,” “Higher Love,” “Back in the High Life,” and “Roll With It.”
Following 1990’s Refugees of the Heart, Winwood and Capaldi reunited as Traffic for the 1994 Far From Home album and tour, the latter documented in the CD/DVD release The Last Great Traffic Jam. In 1997, Winwood teamed with producer Narada Michael Walden for Junction 7. In 2003 the critically acclaimed About Time was released which saw Winwood returning to the free-flowing spirit of some of his most enduring music. The 2008 follow up titled Nine Lives saw Winwood gain one of his highest billboard chart entries.
Currently, Winwood can still be found touring, predominantly keeping himself to the US and Europe but, most recently he has completed a tour of Australia and New Zealand with Steely Dan. When he’s not touring with his own band Winwood is still regularly collaborating with ex Blind Faith band mate Eric Clapton. Having completed a landmark 3 night stand at Madison Square Gardens in New York in 2008 they have subsequently gone on to tour the wider US, Europe and now Japan.
Along the way, Winwood has also collaborated with and accompanied musicians from around the globe, including Jimi Hendrix (Electric Ladyland), Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour, James Brown, Muddy Waters, Toots & the Maytals, Phil Collins, Christina Aguilera, salsa greats Tito Puente and the Fania All Stars, Japanese innovator Stomu Yamashta and African percussionist Remi Kabaka, just to name a handful of dozens.
Back in the High Life Again
Roll with It