I'm a Man (The Spencer Davis Group song)

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"I'm a Man"
didn't Bo Didley write this song in 1955?
Single by the Spencer Davis Group
B-side"I Can't Get Enough of It"
Released20 January 1967
Format7" vinyl
GenreRock, blues rock
LabelFontana TF785 (UK)
United Artists UA50144 (US)
Songwriter(s)Steve Winwood, Jimmy Miller
Producer(s)Jimmy Miller
The Spencer Davis Group singles chronology
"Gimme Some Lovin'"
"I'm a Man"
"Time Seller"
"I'm a Man"
Chicago I'm a Man single.jpg
Single by Chicago Transit Authority
from the album The Chicago Transit Authority
A-side"Questions 67 and 68"
Format7" vinyl
Recorded27/30 January 1969
GenreHard rock
Length7:43 (Album version)
3:27 (Single version)
5:43 (Only the Beginning edit)
LabelColumbia 4-45467
Songwriter(s)Steve Winwood, Jimmy Miller
Producer(s)James William Guercio
Chicago Transit Authority singles chronology
"Beginnings/Colour My World"
"I'm a Man"
"Saturday in the Park"

"I'm a Man" is a song written by the Spencer Davis Group singer-songwriter Steve Winwood and record producer Jimmy Miller.

Original version by the Spencer Davis Group[edit]

The original recording was a fast, Hammond organ-driven blues rock track released as a single by the Spencer Davis Group in early 1967, reaching number nine in the UK Singles Chart[1][2] and number 10 in the U.S. (the US edition was slightly edited) Billboard Hot 100. It was the last hit single by the band before the brothers Steve and Muff Winwood left to pursue their own separate careers.

"I'm a Man" was included on the band's summer 1967 album, I'm a Man, as well as being featured on the 2005 Spencer Davis Group DVD Gimme Some Lovin' Live 1966. Although the recording is said to be late 1966, this date is in fact controversial. In an article and an interview on the "Living Archives" (Elävä arkisto) website of YLE, the Finnish Broadcasting Corporation, the producer of the original live recording, Mr. Tapani Karhu, clearly states that the date of the show was 19 March 1967.

Chicago version[edit]

Chicago Transit Authority (now known as Chicago) recorded a cover version of "I'm a Man" for their 1969 debut album, The Chicago Transit Authority. When the band's popularity surged after their second album, "I'm a Man" was released as the B-side to a re-release of "Questions 67 and 68". Radio stations ended up playing both sides, and "I'm a Man" reached #49 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1971 and got as high as the top ten in the UK, reached #8. The song reached #13 in Ireland.[3]

Chicago's cover arrangement features an extended percussion and drum section with a total run time of 7 minutes and 40 seconds, and is based around the distortion-heavy blues-rock guitar of Terry Kath, the drumming of Danny Seraphine, the bass of Peter Cetera, the soaring Hammond organ of Robert Lamm and the horn players periodically switching over to auxiliary percussion instruments, such as claves, cowbell, maracas, and tambourine. Kath, Cetera and Lamm each sing a verse apiece (not singing the lyrics as they were originally written, but as they misheard and/or revised them), preluding Seraphine's extended drum solo before a return to the second and third verses with the horn section and choruses that bring the song to a climactic drum roll, and finally leading into a guitar solo to bring the song to a dramatic close. This version is featured on the 1971 four-record live album Chicago at Carnegie Hall and Chicago Live in Japan and has remained a fan favorite and concert staple throughout Chicago's career. Santana has also used a small part of this song in the track "Waiting" which appears on their self titled 1969 debut album.

Chicago Personnel:

Other cover versions[edit]

The Serfs album The Early Bird Cafe, Capitol, 1968, featured a percussion-heavy intro (pre-dating Chicago's) and Mike Finnigan's lead vocal. Their arrangement segued into Bo Diddley's song of the same name.

Former Chicago drummer Danny Seraphine's current band, California Transit Authority (CTA), performed "I'm a Man" at their appearance at the 2006 Modern Drummer Festival in New Jersey. The performance featured extensive drumset and percussion solos. The tune also appears on CTA's first album, Full Circle, released in 2007.

Marzio Vincenzi (lead and background vocalist originally from Bologna, Italy) and Mauro Malavasi produced in 1978 a disco version of "I'm a Man" under the name Macho.

A further disco-flavored version is the one released by keyboardist Keith Emerson in his soundtrack album of the 1981 film Nighthawks, featuring him providing unlikely lead vocals. The song underpins a key scene in the movie in a slightly different version which features a longer instrumental coda not included in the original record.

In 1987 the Italian producer Gianfranco Bortolotti edited as Club House the maxi-single "I'm a man/Yéké Yéké" remixing both tracks.

Ty Segall recorded a version of the song as a single in 2018, released by In the Red Records [4]

VW Polo advertisement[edit]

Volkswagen aired a UK television commercial titled "Dog" in late winter 2008, which featured a dog miming singing "I'm a Man". The version used in the advertisement for the Polo was a cover version by a young British singer-songwriter, Charlie Winston. The Noam Murro-directed[5] advert was banned after complaints from the RSPCA and over 750 viewers.[6][7]

In other media[edit]

An instrumental disco version of the song is occasionally featured in the game show The Price Is Right mostly for reveals of new cars.

The Live365 Internet radio service Radio Vietnam uses excerpts from "I'm a Man" as one of their station IDs.

The song was used in the Mad Men Season 7 premiere episode, "Time Zones".

The song was featured in the 2014 film Pawn Sacrifice.

The 2015 film Minions featured the song and is also on the film's soundtrack.

In 2016, the original Spencer Davis Group version was used in an advert for Amazon Prime in the UK and Germany.

In 2017, the original Spencer Davis Group version was used in Episode 5 of The Vietnam War, a documentary by Ken Burns.


  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 103. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
  3. ^ Jaclyn Ward. "The Irish Charts - All there is to know". Irishcharts.ie. Archived from the original on 2009-06-03. Retrieved 2017-07-12.
  4. ^ https://www.stereogum.com/2012953/ty-segall-im-a-man-spencer-davis-group/music/
  5. ^ "VW Polo Dog". Glossyinc.com. Retrieved 2016-10-01.
  6. ^ O'Meara, Ryan (2008-03-29). "RSCPA Complain About 'Abused' Dog in Volkswagen TV Advert - Let's Get Our Priorities Right Shall We?". K9 Magazine. K9 Media Ltd. Archived from the original on 2008-09-20. Retrieved 2008-10-31.
  7. ^ Judd, Terri (2008-06-25). "Kiss goodbye to your sales, Stonewall tells 'homophobic' Heinz after advert is pulled". The Independent. Independent News & Media. Retrieved 2008-11-02.

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