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Eric Clapton & Steve Winwood

As a solo artist, Steve Winwood is primarily associated with the highly polished blue-eyed soul-pop that made him a star in the '80s. Yet his turn as a slick, upscale mainstay of adult contemporary radio was simply the latest phase of a long and varied career, one that's seen the former teenage R&B shouter move through jazz, psychedelia, blues-rock, and progressive rock. Possessed of a powerful, utterly distinctive voice, Winwood was also an excellent keyboardist who remained an in-demand session musician for most of his career, even while busy with high-profile projects. That background wasn't necessarily apparent on his solo records, which established a viable commercial formula that was tremendously effective as long as it was executed with commitment.

Stephen Lawrence Winwood was born May 12, 1948, in the Handsworth area of Birmingham, England. First 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. During the early '60s, Muff led a locally popular group called the Muff Woody Jazz Band, and allowed young Steve to join; eventually they began to add R&B numbers to their repertoire, and in 1963 the brothers chose to pursue that music full-time, joining guitarist Spencer Davis to form the Spencer Davis Group. Although he was only 15, Steve's vocals were astoundingly soulful and mature, and his skills at the piano were also advanced beyond his years. Within a year, he'd played with numerous American blues legends both in concert and in the studio; in 1965, he also recorded the solo single "Incense" as the Anglos, crediting himself as Stevie Anglo. Meanwhile, the Spencer Davis Group released a handful of classic R&B-styled singles, including "Keep on Running," "I'm a Man," and the monumental "Gimme Some Lovin'," which stood with any of the gritty hardcore soul music coming out of the American South.

Winwood eventually tired of the tight pop-single format; by the mid-'60s, the cutting edge of rock & roll often involved stretching out instrumentally, and with his roots in jazz, Winwood wanted the same opportunity. Accordingly, he left the Spencer Davis Group in 1967 to form Traffic with guitarist Dave Mason, horn player Chris Wood, and drummer Jim Capaldi, all of whom had played on "Gimme Some Lovin'." The quartet retired to a small cottage in the Berkshire countryside, where they could work out their sound -- a unique blend of R&B, Beatlesque pop, psychedelia, jazz, and British folk -- and jam long into the night without angering neighbors. Traffic debuted in the U.K. with the single "Paper Sun" in May 1967, and soon issued their debut album Mr. Fantasy (retitled Heaven Is in Your Mind in the U.S.); it was followed by the jazzy psychedelic classic Traffic in 1968. However, conflicts had arisen between Winwood and Mason over the latter's tightly constructed folk-pop songs, which didn't fit into Winwood's expansive, jam-oriented conception of the band. Mason left, returned, and was fired again, and Winwood broke up the band at the beginning of 1969. Even so, by that time, he had become the unofficial in-house keyboardist for Traffic's label Island, playing at numerous recording sessions.

Winwood subsequently hooked up with old friend Eric Clapton, who'd recently parted ways with Cream. The two began jamming and found that they enjoyed working together, and rumors of their collaboration spread like wildfire; the enormous anticipation only grew when ex-Cream drummer Ginger Baker signed on, despite Clapton's misgivings over the expectations that would create. Concert promoters rushed to book the band before any material had been completed (hence the band's eventual name, Blind Faith), and offered too much money for them to refuse, despite their lack of rehearsal time. Their self-titled debut, released in the summer of 1969, was a hit, but the extreme pressure on the group led to their breakup even before the end of the year. Winwood joined Baker in a large, eclectic new supergroup called Ginger Baker's Air Force, but Winwood still had contract obligations to Island, and he left not long after Air Force's debut performance at the Royal Albert Hall in early 1970.

Winwood began work on what was slated to be his first solo LP, but he gradually brought in more ex-Traffic members to help him out, to the point where the album simply became a band reunion. John Barleycorn Must Die was released later in 1970, showcasing the sort of jam-happy jazz-rock sound that Winwood had in mind for the group from the start. Several more albums in that vein followed, including 1971's The Low Spark of High-Heeled Boys, which brought Traffic to the peak of their commercial popularity in America. The run was briefly interrupted by Winwood's bout with peritonitis around 1972, but he'd recovered enough to play a major role in Eric Clapton's early-1973 comeback concerts at the Rainbow Theatre. Traffic broke up in 1974, but instead of going solo right away, an exhausted Winwood spent the next few years as a session musician, relaxing on his Gloucestershire farm during his spare time. He also featured prominently as a collaborator with Japanese percussionist Stomu Yamash'ta, appearing on his hit jazz fusion LP, Go, in 1976.

When Winwood finally returned with his self-titled solo debut in 1977, Britain was in the midst of the punk revolution, and the music itself was somewhat disappointing even to Winwood himself. Dismayed, he returned to Gloucestershire and all but disappeared from music. He returned in late 1980 with the little-heralded Arc of a Diver, a much stronger effort on which he played every instrument himself. Modernizing Winwood's sound with more synthesizers and electronic percussion, Arc of a Diver was a platinum-selling hit in the U.S., helped by the hit single "While You See a Chance"; it received highly positive reviews as well, most hailing the freshness of Winwood's newly contemporary sound. The extremely similar 1982 follow-up Talking Back to the Night sounded rushed to some reviewers, and it wasn't nearly as big a hit, with none of its singles reaching the Top 40. Unhappy with the record, Winwood even considered retiring to become a producer (though his brother talked him out of it).

Taking more time to craft his next album, Winwood didn't return until 1986, with an album of slickly crafted, sophisticated pop called Back in the High Life, which was his first '80s album to feature outside session musicians. It was a smash hit, selling over three-million copies and producing Winwood's first number one single in "Higher Love," which also won a Grammy for Record of the Year. In 1987, Virgin offered Winwood a substantial sum of money and successfully pried him away from Island; a remixed version of Talking Back to the Night's "Valerie," featured on the Island-greatest-hits compilation Chronicles, became a Top Ten hit later that year. Winwood's hot streak continued with his first album for Virgin, 1988's Roll With It. The title track became his second number one and his biggest hit ever, and the album topped the charts as well; plus, the smoky ballad "Don't You Know What the Night Can Do?" was featured in a prominent TV ad campaign. Winwood had by now established a large, mostly adult fan base, but that support began to slip with his next album, 1990's Refugees of the Heart. Refugees repeated the slick blue-eyed soul updates of its predecessor, but according to most reviewers it simply wasn't performed with the same passion, save for the lead single "One and Only Man," a collaboration with Traffic mate Jim Capaldi.

Afterward, Winwood continued his pattern of following disappointments with periods of inactivity; he next resurfaced in 1994 as part of a Traffic reunion with Capaldi. Together they released the new album, Far From Home, and toured the world. Winwood subsequently returned to his solo career and spent two years working on Junction Seven, which finally appeared in 1997 and was co-produced by Narada Michael Walden. However, his momentum had stalled, and the album -- which received mixed reviews -- failed to sell well. The following year, Winwood toured with his new project Latin Crossings, a jazz group that also featured Tito Puente and Arturo Sandoval (though they never recorded). He subsequently parted ways with Virgin. The brilliant About Time appeared in 2003, followed in 2008 by Nine Lives. ~ Steve Huey, Rovi
full bio


Chris love the blues who better than Eric and Stevie the best
Memories from my beautiful past!
When many wild eyed day trippers were banging their heads to Deep Purple, Uriah Heap, and Led Zeppelin, I loved mellowing out with Traffic. I have nothing against screaming electric guitars, but sometimes it was nice to just close your eyes and float along on the beautiful melodies and cryptic lyrics of Stevie Winwood. They are still one of my favorite bands ever, along with Jerry Garcia and the Dead.
I got stoned in the sixties with my girl friend Great times party hardy. Lots of Loving .
F**k I miss my daughter. Sad stuff so listen to the blues
I'll just say it....damn!
Voice blows me away
Winwood is one the most under appreciated musicians ever imho. He is prob a multiple HOF inductee. Spencer Davis Group Traffic and Blind Faith. Much less a solid solo career. He can jam and play many instruments st a very high level
Let the horse run through my veins, not really... Music is so blue
This music gets under your skin in a very good way !
Just listen
Like rain ? Then burn natural wooden logs in a free air enviroinment like outside and after two days, it will begin to rain and our drout will be no more, all in season of course
i like the written Bio. Groves the sound.
One of the great rock classic tunes, that bring back so many memories, dying to hear bell bottom blues
I saw Eric Clapton in concert it was like leaving a church service when u know the holy sprit was there in the air!
Traffic. Makes my day still 2024
I love them both individually but together amazing <3<3<3
for a minute there, I thought they weren't gonna mention Blind Faith!
Love this version <3<3<3
all the above artist
This song reminds me of the love of my life .my mother jeano I love you stu
Speak the truth my friend rock on
Georgia is the most underrated state. And I love that.
Yeah traffic
karmacreatio n s
I have been following Stevie and Eric from the very early days when I was about 16. I am 62 now. I have been a Professional Stagehand for over 40 years and have worked a lot of their shows over the years both solo and in different Groups. Still both are the best you will find. If you have not seen them do it fast . Their music will live on but alas they will not.
Nice duo from Steve and Eric..
I saw Steve last winter in Pittsburgh! Great smaller place than the fist time I saw him.
Saw Steve and Tom Petty ... can you say amazing???
What a great song. Envy you lucky people who have seen them. Wow
2 of the VERY shelf baby
Just cool.
Seen them both multiple times but never together a big fan of both. What great chemistry. Imagine what could of came out of Blind Faith if they stayed together for little longer
One of my favs
This is brilliant. I saw Winwood jam with Clapton and Hendrix in London in December 1967 at the Christmas on Earth Continued gig. Winwood (on guitar) blew both of them away. I've been a fan ever since,
This brings old school memerys
Wasn't at this show, but saw them together the next year at the Verizon Center in DC; set was pretty similar; un-freakin'- r e a l concert! Two masters at their craft, putting it all on display. This tune is so easy to listen and rock to. Little Wing is also awesome.
I had The blind Faith LP has a kid. and The low sparks of high heel boys. A forerunner great musician.
man, he is whats its all about!!
Music is art, painting with sound. That is why award shows are completely idiotic.
Blues n weed
Harleys and blues I love em
I totally agree...with you dawn 1916
These are the GODS of R & R.
down the list I had read the folks recommending guitar players, how bout Doyle Bramhall ??, try this kid outa B,ham Al , he goes by Todd Simpson,
It said similar artists Stevie Ray Vaughan..... l o l he's very good but not that in Stevie's league no offense but let's be practical... I do enjoy his music and have seen him in concert.
I remember looking at our grocery list when I was about 10yrs old. My older brother had written in - The Low Spark Of High Heeled Boys- We both still have the vinyl
I've all ways love Eric Clapton he's like the BB king but Steven I've not heard of before but I'm love this song
stafford.tim 1
I remember as I'm 63 and still swinging
What is with you people. Obviously under 59. Never heard of traffic. So grateful I grew up as a hippy. ps. I do have a job.
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