Weariness with the grind of touring and recording prompted Winwood to leave Traffic and retire to sessioning for some years. Under pressure from Island Records, he resurfaced with his self-titled first solo album in 1977. This was followed by his 1980 hit Arc of a Diver (which included his first solo hit, "While You See a Chance") and Talking Back to the Night in 1982. Both albums were recorded at his home in Gloucestershire with Winwood playing all instruments.

In 1986, he enlisted the help of a coterie of stars to record Back in the High Life in the US, and the album was a hit. He topped the Billboard Hot 100 with "Higher Love", and earned two Grammy Awards: for Record of the Year and Best Male Pop Vocal Performance and this song was the follow up - "Freedom Overspill" hit #20 on the charts, how about today?