Steve Winwood Fans' Site: Interview Magazine, April, 
      1986 

      Lynn Geller: Your brother, Muff, was the bass player in the Spencer Davis 
      Group - what's he doing now?
      Steve Winwood: He's in London, the vice president of CBS Interntational. 
      He signed Paul Young, because he was doing a lot of producing and Paul 
      Young is his act. Sade, Wham! - he signed a lot of people.
      LG: Did you always imagine yourself a lead singer? You play so many 
      instruments.
      SW: I imagined that I'd play music. My father's a musician and he's one of 
      8 brothers and they all play a variety of weird stuff. On my mother's side 
      (she's one of 9 children), her grandfather was an organist and fiddler. 
      And I was fortunate while growing up that there were always instruments in 
      the house. My father would go out and work - if there was a job for a bass 
      player, he'd just pick up a bass off the wall on the way out the door. I 
      got a place in music school when I was very young, two years earlier than 
      usual. But I got thrown out.
      LG: Why? Was this a classical music school?
      SW: I've had trouble explaining that. The European musical education is 
      very different, much more narrow, and they don't look an anything, aside 
      from what they teach, as being valid. They won't accept it. I was learning 
      classical and modern classical piano and composition. I had been playing 
      in a band and it was gaining popularity. I was thought of as a bad 
      influence by not attending. The deputy principal said, "You either play 
      this or you play that," and I was at the age where I just said, "All 
      right, I'll play that." This was the time of the Beatles and the Stones, 
      '66. The Moody Blues, the Move. There were all the Liverpool bands. But it 
      wasn't like it is now. If you saw a bloke walking down the street with a 
      guitar, you were kindred spirits, whereas now everyone you know is in a 
      band and plays the guitar. There were fewer of us at that time. I met 
      Spencer at the folk clubs and we got together with people we knew who were 
      playing jazz and started playing R&B. Pretty soon we were writing out own 
      stuff.
      LG: Then you were being hailed as the "boy wonder", a "rock 'n roll 
      Mozart." What did that do to you?
      SW: It can affect you a lot, but in my own defense, I'd say we were quite 
      lucky, as it wasn't an overnight thing. We worked hard and traveled hard 
      and built a reputation. We traveled around Europe in vans, playing small 
      places, extraordinary gigs in places like Ireland, where you'd go down a 
      dirt track to a church where one line of people were on one side and one 
      line on the other, and they were two families. There were a lot of gigs 
      like that in the early days and I think that's different now. It happens 
      quicker.
      LG: For some people.
      SW: What I'm saying is that, although there are people striving hard who 
      don't get it, when it does come now, it comes very quickly, in an enormous 
      way. Whereas I think I was lucky that the recognition and the money came 
      gradually, rather than all at once.
      LG: When was the first time you came to the US?
      SW: Even though the Spencer Davis Group had two hits here, I never came 
      with them. Then in '67, I formed Traffic. Four of us bought a cottage that 
      had no road or electricity and we all lived and worked there. One guy left 
      and then there were 3 of us. We came to San Francisco for the first time 
      in '67.
      LG: Smack in the middle of the psychedelic 60s?
      SW: Well, when we first landed there, aside from suffering from culture 
      shock, we were also suffering from a good deal of other things. Three 
      green young lads of about 20. We got into lots of trouble. We'd hang out 
      for a month or so and try to get what work we could at clubs like the 
      Fillmore West.
      LG: Did you meet everyone?
      SW: Oh yeah - Janis Joplin. The Dead. Jerry Garcia used to play with us. 
      We had a total of about 3 songs because one bandmember left. We'd have to 
      do an hour-and-a-half set, so we just used to improvise.
      LG: That was the era to do it in.
      SW: Yes, and we were very good at it. We were a trio and it wasn't just 2 
      guitars and a drum. We all switched off instruments. We were very close 
      friends; we'd grown up together and had great times in those days.
      LG: You had big hits with Traffic.
      SW: We had big album hits. This is when FM radio played albums.
      LG: Probably because a lot ot bands were into improvising with long, 
      musical breaks then. Do you find today's 3-minute-single approach 
      confining?
      SW: It's just a matter of editing, which is an art in itself. Now 
      producers improvise - Trevor Horn, for instance. It's really the same 
      thing musically, variations on a theme. Producers are musicians. They have 
      to be. It just spreads the load.
      LG: Why did you decide to stop touring?
      SW: When I stopped touring in '74, I thought, "I've been on the road 
      playing in bands for 10 years now - there must be more to life than rock 
      'n' roll." A lot of people thought I dropped out or retired in the 
      mid-70s. I was doing session work. I worked with a Japanese classical 
      musician and did 2 albums with him. I made an album with some African 
      musicians. I did unusual, oddball things, none of which did very well. A 
      few avid collectors of my stuff might have these albums, but it was very 
      exciting for me.
      LG: What was it like to go from having everyone recognize you in a certain 
      way to being in the background?
      SW: At one point I went out of my way to get to know people who weren't in 
      rock 'n' roll. There are people whose whole lives have been spent touring 
      in rock bands and I've not only seen it, I used to be like that myself; 
      they can't do anything. They're hopeless, can't get their laundry done, or 
      buy a plane ticket, or go to a bank. They really don't have a clue. I've 
      seen that and I've been like that and I guess I made a point of making my 
      life more than rock 'n' roll. I'd had enough of the touring syndrome and I 
      wanted something else. Suddenly I looked around and realized there was a 
      whole world out there that I really didn't know. Starting out so young, I 
      missed out on a lot.
      LG: Could you always afford to work on your own projects?
      SW: Traffic made a lot of money. That sustained things, and of course I 
      was doing sessions, which is lucrative. I'd be open to being told what to 
      play, you have to be. You're providing a service.
      LG: What happened to the other guys in Traffic - Jim Capaldi and Chris 
      Wood?
      SW: Chris died 2 and a half years ago. A lot of musicians I've worked with 
      have died of drugs or alcohol. It tends to make me not want to do 
      anything.
      LG: It does give one pause. Who are you still in touch with from the early 
      days?
      SW: Spencer Davis. I talk to Capaldi occasionally. He's quite 
      disillusioned by the music business. I missed Dave Mason when her was here 
      in New York. I see Eric Clapton from time to time, fairly regularly, as 
      regularly as one can with all the touring and traveling.
      LG: Doyou see any similarities between the '60s and now, or does it seem 
      completely different? Maybe you'll be able to answer that better when you 
      come back off the road.
      SW: I think I'll know more after I tour, but basically things don't change 
      much. People enjoy music and have been dressing up and going out to listen 
      to music since the '30s or before that. There was escapism in the '60s and 
      I think people are more realistic now. People realize that they're looking 
      for a good time, for enjoyment, although these charity things are 
      beginnning to change the world.
      LG: What about the fact that there's a whole generation of kids now who 
      think, for instance, that Power Station wrote "Bang a Gong"?
      SW: It doesn't matter. The Beatles' fans probably thought they wrote "Roll 
      Over Beethoven."