Steve Winwood is a legend. The British multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, and singer has had a successful solo career and was in several major rock bands.
Winwood is also a virtuoso musician, known mainly for his keyboard prowess, who has done session work with George Harrison, Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Paul Weller, Lou Reed, Robert Palmer, Christine McVie, Billy Joel, and David Gilmour.
Winwood is known as a blue-eyed soul singer. That’s a backhanded way of saying he has an amazing set of pipes. During his 50-plus year career, Steve Winwood tickets have been collected all over the world.
Winwood came from a musical family and first performed in front of an audience when he was eight. As a teenager, he backed big-time American blues artists when they toured the U.K. Winwood played the Hammond B-3 organ and guitar for such luminaries as B.B. King, Muddy Waters, and John Lee Hooker.
When he was 14, Winwood joined the Spencer Davis Group. As a member of that successful British band, Winwood sang and co-wrote their most enduring songs, “Gimme Some Lovin’” and “I’m a Man.”
In 1967, Winwood left the Spencer Davis Group to form Traffic with Jim Capaldi, Chris Wood, and Dave Mason. While the Spencer Davis Group played garage rock/blue-eyed soul, Traffic played psychedelic and progressive rock. Their biggest hits were “Paper Sun,” “Hole in My Shoe,” “Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush,” and “Feelin’ Alright.” Traffic was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004.
In 1969, Winwood took some time away from Traffic to join the super-group Blind Faith with Eric Clapton, Ginger Baker, and Ric Grech. They released one self-titled album (1969) that had a cover that caused quite a stir. It featured a pubescent girl holding an incredibly phallic silver plane. The band’s most famous songs are Winwood’s “Can’t Find My Way Home” and Clapton’s "Presence of the Lord.”
In the mid-1970s, Winwood took a break from the spotlight and worked as a session musician. He emerged from this fallowed period with his first solo album (self-titled and released in 1977).
In 1980, Winwood issued Arc of a Diver which includes the classic “While You See a Chance.” His third solo studio offering, Talking Back to the Night, also included a classic track, “Valerie.” In 1982, the original version of that song peaked at number 70, but in 1987 a remixed version by Tom Lord-Alge went all the way to number nine.
In 1986, Winwood’s solo career hit its zenith with the album Back in the High Life. The album contained the singles “Higher Love,” “Back in the High Life Again,” and “Freedom Overspill.” “Higher Love” went to number one and earned Winwood a pair of Grammy Awards.
Winwood’s next studio effort, Roll With It, dropped in 1988. The title track became Winwood’s second number one single in the United States. As of 2014, Winwood’s discography contains nine solo studio albums.