The Spencer Davis Group are to receive a Walk of Stars Award on Broad Street.
Today’s announcement was made less than a week after the death of the former Birmingham teacher who lent the band his name.
The guitarist, who dropped the ‘e’ from his surname to make it easier to spell, died in California on Monday, October 19 at the age of 81.
But Birmingham’s Westside Business Improvement District (BID) is pressing ahead with plans to honour the whole band with a star – the kind which was awarded to ELO’s Jeff Lynne in 2014 as you can see in the above video.
Born in Swansea and most recently based on the Californian island of Catalina, Spencer first came to the West Midlands to study German at the University of Birmingham.
As a key member of the Spencer Davis Group, which bore his shortened name, he enjoyed No.1 hits with Keep on Running and Somebody Help Me in 1966.
Gimme Some Lovin’ might have made it a hat-track but for the Beach Boys’ Good Vibrations, while I’m A Man also became a top ten hit for the band.
Its members met just yards from Birmingham Town Hall at the now demolished Golden Eagle pub when it was on the corner of Hill Street and Swallow Street.
They included Pete York (drums), Muff Winwood (bass) and Steve Winwood (vocals / guitar) who went on to Traffic and Blind Faith as well as a stellar solo career.
Muff became an A&R man but Pete and Spencer carried on playing together and enjoyed a debut performance at Symphony Hall in 2014, by which time Spencer was 75.
BirminghamLive revealed on October 20 that Spencer had died.
Long-time friend Jim Simpson will pay tribute to Spencer at the end of the 36th annual Birmingham, Sandwell and Westside Jazz Festival on Sunday.
Walk of Stars
City comedian Jasper Carrott, who chairs Westside BID’s Walk of Stars’ awards committee, said: “I was deeply saddened to hear about Spencer’s death.
“Both he and The Spencer Davis Group were very much a part of the Birmingham music scene – I recall seeing them at the Civic Hall in Digbeth.
“We had hoped to incorporate Spencer and the group into the Westside Walk of Stars on Broad Street, and we were in negotiations with band members for the last year or two.
“Unfortunately, Spencer had been in ill-health during that time, making it difficult for him to travel to his adopted Birmingham, and recently COVID-19 had made it impossible.
“But as soon as pandemic restrictions allow, we’re going to make a special tribute by awarding a Star to The Spencer Davis Group, and we hope to get as many band members along as possible to receive it.”
Jasper added: “While Spencer himself will be sadly missed, his music will very much play on. My sincere condolences to all his friends, fans and loved ones.”
Mike Olley, general manager of Westside BID, said he would be contacting band members to discuss the special Star award.
Mr Olley said: “A musician of Spencer’s calibre deserves proper recognition in Birmingham, and we are determined his group will receive their Star as soon as circumstances allow.”
The Birmingham, Sandwell & Westside Jazz Festival is to pay its own tribute to Spencer at 6pm on Sunday, October 25 at The Bull’s Head in Bishopsgate Street, the home of Henry’s Blueshouse.
The festival’s founding director Jim Simpson was friends with both Spencer and The Spencer Davis Group drummer Pete York for more than 55 years.
Mr Simpson, whose Edgbaston-based Big Bear Music company once represented the band in the UK, said: “Spencer was a lovely man, always very courteous and a purist about music.
“Birmingham was a big influence on Spencer’s early career and, of course, it’s where The Spencer Davis Group was formed.
“When I spoke to Pete we said it would be nice to do something to remember him, and the best thing to do was to incorporate it into the jazz festival.”
Walk of Stars history
Ozzy Osbourne was the first celebrity to receive a Walk of Stars award in 2007 – followed by Jasper Carrott and later fellow comedians Lenny Henry and Frank Skinner.
More than 35 people or bands have been honoured to date, including sports stars from racing driver Nigel Mansell to cricketer Dennis Amiss, swimmer Ellie Simmonds, Wimbledon champion Ann Haydon Jones and Britain’s first £1m footballer Trevor Francis.
As well as actors Julie Walters, David Harewood and Norman Painters, broacasters who have been honoured include Chris Tarrant, Gary Newbon and Murray Walker.
Musicians with awards include Slade’s Noddy Holder, ELO’s Jeff Lynne, Bev Bevan and Roy Wood, Sabbath stars Tony Iommi and Geezer Butler, Steel Pulse, Beverley Knight, Jaki Graham and Joan Armatrading.
Schoolboy charity fundraiser extraordinaire Harry Moseley received a posthumous award in 2012.