1967 Spencer Davis Group – I’m A Man
Spencer Davis grew up in Wales and concentrated on playing the guitar. In 1963, he heard Steve Winwood and his older brother Muff Winwood playing in a pub in Birmingham, England, and convinced them to join him in a new band. Steve played keyboards and sang while Muff played bass. They completed the band when Pete York joined as their drummer.
The next the band signed with Island Records and began recording. The group’s first single failed to chart while their next two reached #47 and #41 in the UK. They released a single in the US on Fontana Records, but the lack of promotion led to complete failure there.
The group’s first single from their third album also did poorly. Reggae artist Jackie had written successful records in his native Jamaica, and he wrote the band’s next two singles. Each record reached the top of the UK charts in 1965 and early 1966. The band had moved to Atco Records, but again there was little promotion for the band in the US. Keep On Running only reached #74, but their next single, Somebody Help Me, made it as high as #47 on the Hot 100.
The band’s biggest hit in the US came later in 1967. Steve, Muff, and Spencer co-wrote Gimme Some Lovin’ and their single reached #2 in the UK and peaked at #7 on the Hot 100 in the US.
A cover version of the song by the Blues Brothers reached #18 on the Hot 100 in 1980.
I’m A Man became the band’s first charting single in 1967. Steve co-wrote the song with producer Jimmy Miller. It reached #9 in the UK and #10 in the US.
Shortly after that success, Steve left the band and formed Traffic. Muff also left, and he took a job doing A&R work for Fontana Records.
The band continued on for another two years. Dee Murray and Nigel Olsson joined the band briefly and eventually left (they later became members of Elton John’s band).
Even with steady replacements for a rapidly changing lineup, the band never reached the charts again.
The Spencer Davis Group disbanded in 1969. The band reunited and released a pair of albums in 1973 and 1974 before calling it quits again. Touring groups popped up periodically.
Spencer Davis died from pneumonia in 2020.
Chicago covered I’m A Man on their first album. When the band re-released Questions 67 & 68 as a single in 1971, they chose to use I’m A Man on the B-side and it reached #49 on the Hot 100.
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