Five For Friday: Steve Winwood (One Guy, Multiple Acts)

Multi-instrumentalist (primarily guitar and keyboards) Steve Winwood has been around for going on 60 years, and he still manages to sound fresh. Let’s take a look…

  1. Spencer Davis Group, "I’m A Man": Steve started with the Spencer Davis Group in 1962, when he was 14, and stayed with them until 1967. "I’m A Man" was released in ’67, from their album The Best of The Spencer Davis Group featuring Steve Winwood. It reached #10 in the US, #9 in the UK, and #1 in Canada.
  2. Traffic, "Paper Sun": After leaving Spencer Davis, Steve started Traffic with Jim Capaldi on drums, Chris Wood on saxophone, and Dave Mason on guitar. They recorded three albums together before splitting in 1969. "Paper Sun" was their first single, from their first album, 1967’s Mr. Fantasy. It was writen by Winwood and Capaldi and reached #5 in the UK but only #94 in the US.
  3. Blind Faith, "Sea Of Joy": Steve left Traffic in early 1969 and started jamming with Eric Clapton and Ginger Baker from the recently-dissolved Cream and Ric Grech from the band Family. They managed to release one eponymous studio album and play some concerts before splitting up. "Sea Of Joy," written by Winwood, is from that album and features some violin playing from Grech.
  4. Traffic, "The Low Spark of High-Heeled Boys": Steve started working on a solo project after leaving Blind Faith, and invited Capaldi and Wood to assist him. That solo project soon became Traffic’s most successful album, 1970’s John Barleycorn Must Die. After recording a live album, 1970’s Welcome To The Canteen, they went to work on The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys, released in 1971. It became a Top 10 album in the US, earning Platinum status from RIAA. The title track ran over 11 minutes long, too long to release as a single, but it got a lot of airplay on US album-oriented rock stations, especially when the DJ had to run to the restroom…
  5. Steve Winwood, "Back In The High Life Again": Steve left Traffic in 1974 to get off the road and do session work, including work with his Traffic mate Jim Capaldi, Toots & The Maytals, and Sandy Denny. Island Records began putting pressure on him to release a solo album; he released an eponymous album in 1977, followed by Arc Of A Diver in 1980. Both albums were recorded in his home studio, with him playing all the instruments. Since then, he’s released eight more albums, the most recent being 2017’s Greatest Hits Live. "Back In The High Life Again" is from the 1986 album Back In The High Life; it reached #13 on the Hot 100, #19 on the Mainstream Rock chart, and #1 on the Adult Contemporary chart in 1986.

Steve Winwood, your Five For Friday, October 23, 2020.

16 thoughts on “Five For Friday: Steve Winwood (One Guy, Multiple Acts)

  1. Last week, when I was talking to my older brother, I asked him, “how come I can’t remember what I came into the kitchen for, but I can remember Winwood and Capaldi were in Traffic?

    Number four is what I think of when I think of Traffic, and number five is an all-time favorite.


    1. The funny thing is that “The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys” didn’t do so well in the UK. Kind of surprising, because the album was fantastic.

      Mary says she can remember lyrics from most of The Jackson 5’s songs from the ’60’s, but can’t remember why she walked into a room. I can remember TV shows from 60 years ago, but will forget something five minutes after I hear it. It’s just one of those things…

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  2. I don’t know the Traffic or the Blind Faith songs but the other ones I do. We saw him as an opening act for Tom Petty. That was a great show.


    1. I’d imagine it was. I’m surprised you hadn’t heard any Traffic. Blind Faith was a one-off project, but Traffic was all over FM radio in the ’70’s. It was in Chicago, anyway….

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