Interview: Steve Winwood: Hammond Organ, FM Radio Made His Career + New LP!

posted by Andrew Magnotta -

Steve Winwood has been in the right place at the right time with the best songs over and over again throughout his career.

Although the former Spencer Davis Group, Blind Faith and Traffic singer has a career of hits spanning several decades, he's modest about the part his own brilliant song-craft played in his multiple Grammy wins and gold- and platinum-selling albums. 

When Winwood was having trouble being heard in clubs—he says first he up and learned the electric guitar—then the Hammond B3 Organ came around.

"When the Hammond Organ came along, it was a gift to a lot of keyboard players and organ players," he tells Q104.3 New York's "Out of the Box" with Jonathan Clarke. "Suddenly we could make a sound that could compete with Marshall stacks and bass guitars."

Then, when his avant-garde music couldn't get airplay, the FM radio revolution started, and an 11-and-a-half-minute song like Traffic's "Low Spark of High Heeled Boys" became a hit!

"At that time with Traffic, we were just playing these very long, drawn-out jazz/folk songs purely for our own enjoyment," he says. "Then of course at that particular time [in the early '70s] radio changed from AM to FM. FM came along and AM became Top 40 radio and FM wanted to play very long, drawn out...jams, which was exactly what we were doing.

"We fell on our feet, really. I should say I'm still playing that stuff today. I played it last night. I very much live on that legacy now."

Check out the full interview with Winwood in the video above! The legendary songwriter also discusses his mastery of multiple instruments, recording "Voodoo Chile" with Jimi Hendrix, getting thrown out of music college, touring with the late Walter Becker of Steely Dan and more.

Get Greatest Hits Live here. And look for Winwood's tour dates here

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Here's the official video for "Back in the High Life Again" from Greatest Hits Live: