Mervyn “Muff” Winwood (born 15 June 1943, Erdington, Birmingham) is an English songwriter and record producer, and the older brother of Steve Winwood. Both were formerly members of the Spencer Davis Group in the 1960s, in which Muff Winwood played bass guitar. He produced the first Dire Straits album, Dire Straits (1978).
His father, Lawrence, was a foundryman by trade, who also played tenor saxophone in dance bands and had a collection of jazz and blues records. He attended the Cranbourne Road Primary School and the new Great Barr School (one of the first comprehensive schools) and was a choir boy at St John’s Church in the Perry Barr neighborhood of Birmingham. Winwood first became interested in the guitar, then the bass. He was nicknamed “Muff” after the popular 1950’s children’s TV character Muffin the Mule.
The Spencer Davis Group
Muff was one of the original members of the Spencer Davis Group, but was told by his parents he had to take his kid brother along to gigs to keep him out of trouble. The group started to allow young Stevie to join in on a few numbers and gradually discovered all the young girls screaming at the front of the stage were for Stevie.
After leaving the Spencer Davis Group in 1967, Winwood moved within the music industry to a position as A&R man at Island Records. He was there until 1978, when he became an executive at the British office of CBS Records which later became Sony Music until well into the 1990s. Besides Dire Straits, Winwood had earlier produced the hit album, Kimono My House (1974), and accompanying hit singles, “This Town Ain’t Big Enough for Both of Us” and “Amateur Hour” for Sparks. He also produced their other 1974 album, Propaganda (which included the “Never Turn Your Back on Mother Earth” single). As part of his A&R duties, Winwood signed Prefab Sprout, Terence Trent D’Arby, Sade, Shakin’ Stevens and The Psychedelic Furs amongst others.
His other work included production with The Fabulous Poodles, Marianne Faithfull, Nirvana (the UK band), Sutherland Brothers (“Sailing”), Traffic, Mott the Hoople, Love Affair, Kevin Ayers, Patto, Unicorn, After the Fire and The Noel Redding Band.