“Gimme Some Lovin'” was written by Spencer Davis, Steve Winwood, and his brother Muff Winwood, although solely credited to “Steve Winwood” on the UK single label. Steve Winwood was just 17 years old when he wrote this song and was one of the first songs he wrote.
The basic riff of the song was borrowed from the Homer Banks song “(Ain’t That) A Lot of Love”, written by Banks and Willia Dean “Deanie” Parker.
As recalled by bassist Muff Winwood, the song was conceived, arranged, rehearsed in just half an hour. At the time, the group were under pressure to come up with another hit, following the relatively poor showing of their previous single, “When I Come Home”, written by Jamaican-born musician Jackie Edwards, who had also penned their earlier number one hits, “Keep On Running” and “Somebody Help Me”.
The band auditioned and rejected other songs Edwards offered them, and they let the matter slide until, with a recording session looming, manager Chris Blackwell took them to London, put them in a rehearsal room at the Marquee Club, and ordered them to come up with a new song.
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.
In 1966, “Gimme Some Lovin'” reached number two in the UK and number seven in the US. The original UK version, which is the ‘master’ take of the song, differs in several respects from the version subsequently released in the US.
This UK release was slower, lacking the ‘response’ backing vocals in the chorus, some percussion, and the “live-sounding” ambience of the US single. These additional overdubs (which were performed by some of the future members of Traffic), and the ‘tweaking’ of the recording’s speed to create a brighter sound, were the work of producer Jimmy Miller, who remixed the song for its US release. (The US version has more often been used on reissue CDs, even those coming from Europe.) The single features the sound of the Hammond B-3 organ, which became one of the most recognizable organ riffs in rock. Winwood also wrote the song on the instrument, which explains why it is so prominent in the mix (especially the version released in the US).
In America, the first release of this song was by The Jordan Brothers, which was a rock band from the Philadelphia area.
Frank Jordan explained to the Forgotten Hits newsletter:
Artists back in the 50’s and 60’s relied heavily on the record company’s people to come up with a hit for them. This was the case with The Jordan Brothers’ band. Upon receiving a phone call from the people at our record company in New York, we packed up our instruments and, along with our father, we went to the Big Apple. The people at our company played a ‘demo’ or demonstration of the song ‘Gimme Some Lovin” for us to hear and approve. We all agreed that we liked the song and agreed to record it. Little did we know that it was the actual 8-track tape we listened to containing Steve Winwood’s vocal, organ, a lead guitar, bass guitar and drums. The other remaining tracks were open for any additional accompaniment. We did not know this at the time or how our record company got hold of the original recording. We may never know. Or how the other record company that recorded the other tracks on it got a hold of it. We learned the song, recorded it on that same trip and it was released in three major cities in the US. So, we did have the first release in the US and the record took off immediately. It boasted huge sales in three major cities which would make the Spencer Davis version seem like it was a cover. The Spencer Davis version was enhanced with more instrumentation and background voices which gave it somewhat of a ‘soul sound,’ a term used back then for a sound produced at Motown records which was very popular at the time. The Spencer Davis version was released and it got immediate attention. It didn’t take long for it to take over our version and cover it.
The Spencer Davis Group was formed in 1963 in Birmingham when Welsh guitarist Spencer Davis recruited vocalist, guitarist, and organist Steve Winwood and his bass playing brother Muff Winwood. The group was completed with Pete York on drums. They were originally called the Rhythm and Blues Quartette, but was renamed after the group’s namesake because he was the only one who enjoyed doing interviews.
Spencer was the only one who enjoyed doing interviews, so I [Muff Winwood] pointed out that if we called it the Spencer Davis Group, the rest of us could stay in bed and let him do them.
The group’s first professional recording was a cover version of “Dimples”; at the end of 1965 they gained their first number one single with “Keep On Running”.
Steve Winwood left to form Traffic in 1967; his brother, Muff, moved into the music industry as A&R man at Island Records.
Moving to America in 1970, Spencer Davis went on to forge a solo career, forming an acoustic blues band. By the mid-’70s Spencer worked at Island Records (his group’s label) as a record company executive, personally helping to further the profiles of artists like Robert Palmer and Bob Marley. In the early 80’s Spencer was head of A&R for a Hollywood-based independent label and the itch to play in a band again was coming back. That’s when he made his next album, “Crossfire”, with guests like Dusty Springfield, Flo and Eddie, and Booker T. Jones. In mid 80’s, Spencer was back on the road with his own band, touring America, Europe and the Middle East. Playing with Pete York (the original drummer), plus other British rock legends. He continues touring and recording currently.
“Gimme Some Lovin'” is ranked number 247 on the Rolling Stone magazine’s list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.