One of the most electrifying rock songs ever recorded has to be “Gimme Some Lovin‘” by British band Spencer Davis Group. After reading a recent post by fellow blogger Cincinnati Babyhead about Blind Faith, the short-lived supergroup of which Spencer Davis Group vocalist Steve Winwood was also a member, it reminded me of what an amazing talent he was, especially at such a young age. As a pre-teen who was only six years younger than Steve Winwood – he was 18 when he co-wrote and recorded “Gimme Some Lovin'”, I was blown away by his incredibly powerful and soulful vocals when I first heard the song back in late 1966.
Spencer Davis Group was formed in Birmingham, England in 1963, and consisted of Spencer Davis (rhythm guitar, backing vocals), brothers Steve Winwood (lead guitar, lead vocals, organ, piano) and Muff Winwood (bass) and Pete York (drums & percussion). Steve Winwood was only 14 at the time! They had two #1 singles in the UK with “Keep On Running” and “Somebody Help Me”, but their latest single “When I Come Home” had not performed well. Also, none of their singles up to that point had charted in the U.S. The band was under pressure to come up with another hit single but weren’t happy with songs submitted by Jackie Edwards, who’d written their previous singles. Finally, their manager Chris Blackwell took them to London, put them in a rehearsal room, and ordered them to come up with a new song. As quoted in the liner notes by John Bell for the 2-CD Island Records 1996 release Eight Gigs A Week: The Spencer David Group – The Steve Winwood Years, Muff Winwood recalled that “Gimme Some Lovin'” was conceived, arranged, and rehearsed in just half an hour. He elaborated about the song’s creation:
“We started to mess about with riffs, and it must have been eleven o’clock in the morning. We hadn’t been there half an hour, and this idea just came. We thought, bloody hell, this sounds really good. We fitted it all together and by about twelve o’clock, we had the whole song. Steve had been singing ‘Gimme, gimme some loving’ – you know, just yelling anything, so we decided to call it that. We worked out the middle eight and then went to a cafe that’s still on the corner down the road. Blackwell came to see how we were going on, to find our equipment set up and us not there, and he storms into the cafe, absolutely screaming, ‘How can you do this?’ he screams. Don’t worry, we said. We were all really confident. We took him back, and said, how’s this for half an hour’s work, and we knocked off ‘Gimme Some Lovin’ and he couldn’t believe it. We cut it the following day and everything about it worked. That very night we played a North London club and tried it out on the public. It went down a storm. We knew we had another No. 1.”
Well, they created quite an explosive banger of a tune! Opening with a heavy bass riff and ominously building percussion, Steve Winwood’s wailing organ arrives like an angry velociraptor, followed by his fiery, impassioned vocals that instantly cover me with goosebumps. The feral hunger in his vocals make us believe him when he practically screams “I’m so glad we made it, I’m so glad we made it! You’ve gotta gimme some lovin’!” From that point on, that sonic velociraptor rampages onward, laying waste to the airwaves and our eardrums. God, what a song!
“Gimme Some Lovin'” finally brought the Spencer Davis Group long-elusive success in the U.S. The song peaked at #7 on the Billboard Hot 100, becoming their highest-charting U.S. single (should have been #1). It reached #2 in UK, and is ranked #247 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. It certainly ranks highly among my 500 favorite songs of all time.
In 1980, The Blues Brothers, who consisted of Dan Aykroyd and the late John Belushi, did a pretty good cover of “Gimme Some Lovin'”. The song was featured in their film The Blues Brothers, and was a sizable hit, reaching #18 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100.