Steve Winwood

Artist Playlists

About Steve Winwood

Few classic rock artists evolved as subtly—and successfully—as Steve Winwood. A Dixieland fan from Birmingham, England, Winwood joined the R&B trio The Spencer Davis Group when he was only 14 (and even cowrote the timeless rave-up “Gimme Some Lovin’” about a year later), helped found both the pioneering fusion band Traffic and the blues supergroup Blind Faith (with Cream members Eric Clapton and Ginger Baker), and later struck major chart success with a sophisticated take on blue-eyed soul. At the heart of Winwood’s genius is his uncanny ability to synthesize disparate styles into a seamless whole. Listen to Traffic’s 1971 album The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys, whose blend of jazz, soul, psychedelia, and English folk set the course for the modern-day jam band, or Winwood’s commercial peak, 1986’s Back in the High Life (featuring the radio-staple title track and the Chaka Khan collaboration “Higher Love”), whose touches of funk and adult pop influenced artists from Sting to Dave Matthews Band and John Mayer. Reflecting on his childhood stint in music school, Winwood said, “I was asked, ‘What kind of music do you like to listen to?’ and I said, ‘Well, I do like Paul Hindemith and Igor Stravinsky, but I also like Fats Domino and Ray Charles,’ and they literally said, ‘Either forget about that or leave.’” He left.

Birmingham, England
May 12, 1948
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