Steve Winwood: Wikis


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Steve Winwood

Winwood playing at the Cropredy Festival
13 August 2009 Photo: Brian Marks
Background information
Birth name Stephen Lawrence Winwood
Born 12 May 1948 (1948-05-12) (age 61)
Handsworth, Birmingham, England
Genres Blue-eyed soul, rock, blues-rock, psychedelic rock, jazz
Occupations Singer-songwriter
Instruments Vocals, keyboards, bass, guitar, drums, mandolin, organ, violin
Years active 1963–present
Labels Fontana, Island, United Artists, Polydor, Virgin, Columbia
Associated acts Spencer Davis Group, Traffic, Blind Faith
Website Steve
Notable instruments
Hammond B-3 organ

Stephen Lawrence "Steve" Winwood (born 12 May 1948) is an English singer-songwriter who performs and writes rock, blues-rock, and jazz. He sings with a tenor voice and is a multi-instrumentalist who plays Hammond organ, guitar, bass, and other string instruments. In addition to his solo career, he was a member of the bands the Spencer Davis Group, Traffic, Blind Faith, and Go. He has won multiple Grammy Awards. In 2008, Rolling Stone ranked Winwood #33 in its 100 Greatest Singers of All Time.[1]

In his teens, Winwood played Hammond B-3 organ and guitar in 'pick-up' bands that backed up well-known US blues performers. He formed Blind Faith in 1969 with Eric Clapton, Ginger Baker and Ric Grech. His first solo album was in 1977. In 1986, he topped the Billboard Hot 100 with "Higher Love", and with this earned the year's Grammy Award for Record of the Year and another for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance. In 1994, Capaldi and Winwood reunited Traffic for a new album, Far From Home.


Early life

Winwood was born in Handsworth, a suburb of the British city of Birmingham. He first became interested in swing and Dixieland jazz. He began playing drums, guitar, and piano as a child and first performed with his father and older brother Muff in the Ron Atkinson Band at the age of eight.[2]


Early years: 1960s

While still a pupil at Great Barr School[3] (which actor Martin Shaw also attended), Winwood was a part of the Birmingham rhythm and blues scene, playing the Hammond B-3 organ and guitar, backing blues singers such as Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker, T-Bone Walker, Howlin' Wolf, B. B. King, Sonny Boy Williamson II, Eddie Boyd, Otis Spann, Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley on their United Kingdom tours, the custom at that time being for US singers to travel solo and be backed by pickup bands. At this time, Winwood was living on Atlantic Road in Great Barr, close to the Birmingham music halls where he played.

At the age of 14 Winwood joined the Spencer Davis Group,[4] along with his older brother Muff, who later had success as a record producer. Steve's distinctive high tenor singing voice drew comparisons to Ray Charles.[5] Winwood co-wrote and recorded "Gimme Some Loving" and "I'm a Man" before leaving to form Traffic with Chris Wood, Jim Capaldi, and Dave Mason. During this time, Winwood joined forces with guitarist Eric Clapton as part of the one-off group Eric Clapton's Powerhouse. Songs were recorded for the Elektra label, but only three tracks were released on the compilation album, What's Shakin'.

In 1969, Winwood performed on organ for Joe Cocker's cover of "With a Little Help from My Friends", and later played keyboards on albums as diverse as Toots & the Maytals' Reggae Got Soul and Howlin' Wolf's The London Howlin' Wolf Sessions.

Blind Faith and Traffic: 1970s

Steve Winwood with Traffic 1969 Photo: Dina Regine

He formed the supergroup Blind Faith in 1969 with Eric Clapton, Ginger Baker and Ric Grech.[6] The band was short-lived because of Clapton's greater interest in Blind Faith's opening act Delaney & Bonnie & Friends--Clapton left the band after the tour had ended. However, Baker, Winwood, and Grech stayed together to form Ginger Baker's Air Force. The lineup consisted of 3/4 of Blind Faith (without Clapton, who was replaced by Denny Laine), 2/3 of Traffic (Winwood and Chris Wood, minus Jim Capaldi), plus musicians who interacted with Baker in his early days, including Phil Seamen, Harold McNair and Graham Bond. But it turned out to be just another short-lived project. Winwood soon went into the studio to begin work on a new solo album, tentatively titled Mad Shadows. However, Winwood ended up calling Wood and Capaldi in to help with session work, which prompted Traffic's comeback album John Barleycorn Must Die. In 1976, Winwood played guitar on the Fania All StarsDelicate and Jumpy record and performed as a guest with the band in their only UK appearance, a sell-out concert at the Lyceum Theatre, London.

In 1972, Winwood recorded the part of Captain Walker in the highly successful orchestral version of The Who's Tommy. In 1973 Winwood recorded an album with Remi Kabaka, Aiye-Keta, for Antilles Records. In 1976, Winwood provided vocals and keyboards on Go, a concept album by Japanese composer Stomu Yamashta.

Solo career: 1977 onwards

Constant artistic differences and personnel changes led to Traffic's final break-up and Winwood's release of his self-titled first solo album in 1977. This was followed by his 1980 hit Arc Of A Diver and Talking Back to the Night in 1982. Both albums were recorded at his home in Gloucestershire with Winwood playing all instruments.

In 1986, he enlisted the help of a coterie of stars to record Back in the High Life in the US, and the album was a hit. He topped the Billboard Hot 100 with "Higher Love", and earned two Grammy Awards: for Record of the Year and Best Male Pop Vocal Performance.

All these albums were released on Island Records. However, at the peak of his commercial success, Winwood moved to Virgin Records and released Roll with It and Refugees of the Heart. The album Roll with It and the title track hit #1 on the album and singles charts in the summer of 1988. He recorded another album with Jim Capaldi released under the Traffic name, Far From Home, then resumed his solo career with his final Virgin album Junction Seven.

1990s to present

Steve Winwood in concert at the Chumash Casino Resort in Santa Ynez, California in 2005

In 1994, Capaldi and Winwood reunited Traffic for a new album, Far From Home, and a tour, including a performance at Woodstock '94 Festival. That same year, Winwood appeared on the A Tribute To Curtis Mayfield CD, recording Mayfield's "It's Alright". In 1995 and 1996, Winwood released Reach for the Light for the animated film Balto. In 1997, Winwood released a new album, Junction Seven, toured the US and sang with James Taylor at the VH-1 Honors.[7] In 1998, Winwood joined Tito Puente, Arturo Sandoval, Ed Calle and other musicians to form the band "Latin Crossings" for a European tour, after which they split without making any recordings. Winwood also starred in the film Blues Brothers 2000, appearing on stage with Issac Hayes, Eric Clapton, and KoKo Taylor at the battle of the bands competition; the band is called the Louisiana Gator Band.

In 2003, Winwood released a new studio album, About Time on his new record label, Wincraft Music. 2004 saw his 1982 song "Valerie" used by Eric Prydz in a song called "Call on Me". It spent five weeks at #1 on the UK singles chart. Winwood heard an early version of Prydz's remix and liked it so much, he not only gave permission to use the song, he re-recorded the samples for Prydz to use.[8]

In 2005, his Soundstage Performances DVD was released, featuring recent work from the About Time album along with prior hits including "Back in the High Life". Winwood also performed hits from his days with Traffic as well as current recordings. In 2005, he accepted an invitation from 2008 Grammy Award winner Ashley Cleveland to appear on her album Men and Angels Say. This album of rock, blues and country arrangements of well known hymns includes "I Need Thee Every Hour" which features a vocal duet and organ performance. Christina Aguilera features Winwood (using the piano and organ instrumentation from the "John Barleycorn" track, "Glad") on one of her songs from her 2006 record Back to Basics, called "Makes Me Wanna Pray".

The Steve Winwood Band in 2009 on tour

In July 2007, Winwood performed with Eric Clapton in the latter's Crossroads Guitar Festival. Among the songs they played together were "Presence of the Lord" and "Can't Find My Way Home" from their Blind Faith days. Winwood played several guitar leads in a six song set. The two continued their collaboration with three sold-out nights at Madison Square Garden in New York City in February 2008. On 19 February 2008 Winwood and Clapton released a collaborative EP through iTunes titled Dirty City. Clapton and Winwood released a CD and DVD of their Madison Square Garden shows and then toured together in the summer of 2009.[9]

A new studio album, Nine Lives, was released 29 April 2008 on Columbia Records.[10][11] The album opened at #12 on the Billboard 200 album chart,[12] his highest US debut ever. Also in 2008, Winwood received an honorary doctorate from the Berklee College of Music.

Personal life

Winwood lives in a 300-year-old manor house in the Gloucestershire countryside with Eugenia Crafton, a native of Trenton, Tennessee, to whom he has been married since 1987. They have four children (three daughters and a son), the eldest having been born in 1987. Winwood is also asserted to have a daughter from a teenage union in the 1960s, who was placed for adoption.[13] He was previously married (1977-1986) to the late Nicole Tacot, who also contributed background vocals to the early solo work of both Winwood and Jim Capaldi.[14]


Session work


  1. ^ "The 100 Greatest Singers of All Time". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2009-06-13. "Steve Winwood exploded onto the London music scene as a teenager with his powerful, soulful tenor — notably on "Gimme Some Lovin'" and "I'm a Man" with the Spencer Davis Group." 
  2. ^ Steve Winwood biography - Yahoo! Music
  3. ^ Clayson, Alan (1988). Back in the High Life. Sidgewick and Jackson. ISBN 0-283-99640-4. 
  4. ^ "It's 'About Time' for Steve Winwood". BBC. Retrieved 2007-08-19. 
  5. ^ "100 Greatest Singers of All Time". Rolling Stone. "(Winwood exploded onto the London music scene as a teenager with his powerful, soulful tenor). "I thought he had the greatest voice," said Billy Joel, "this skinny little English kid singing like Ray Charles."" 
  6. ^ Steve's still winning nine lives later -
  7. ^ [1]
  8. ^ Steve Winwood calls on Eric Clapton, Sunday Mail.
  9. ^ "Eric Clapton and Steve Winwood at the Bowl". Los Angeles Times. "The stairway to classic-rock heaven extended straight into Hollywood Bowl Tuesday night as '60s British rock heroes Eric Clapton and Steve Winwood closed their all-too-quick 14-city, three-week U.S. tour with a nearly 2 ½-hour excursion through the music they created, individually and collectively, three and four decades ago." 
  10. ^ "Legendary superstar Steve Winwood to release Nine Lives". Retrieved 2009-06-13. 
  11. ^ Steve Winwood information - Columbia Records UK
  12. ^ "Madonna Leads Busy Billboard 200 With 7th No. 1". Billboard. Retrieved March 4, 2010. 
  13. ^ I'm Steve Winwood's secret love child, Daily Mail.
  14. ^ Steve Winwood Discussion Forum, Nicole Tacot Weir;

External links

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