Personalities | Dave Davies | Riffing Legend from The Kinks | Guitar Heroes

Trailblazing Kinks lead guitarist Dave Davies was born in Muswell Hill, London in 1947. The Davies were a close-knit, musical family and Dave acquired his first guitar, a Harmony Meteor, at the age of 11.

He taught himself to play, citing blues pioneer Big Bill Broonzy as his earliest influence. Other inspirations were James Burton, Chuck Berry, Muddy Waters, Scotty Moore and jazz guitarist Tal Farlow.

The teenage Dave was a rebel, frequently truanting from the secondary school where The Kinks came together with elder brother Ray on rhythm guitar and vocals and Pete Quaife on bass (drummer Mick Avory was recruited later). The Kinks’ third single ‘You Really Got Me’ proved their breakthrough. Davies played its famous two-chord riff on his Harmony Meteor, creating the distortion effect by slashing his speaker with a razorblade. His work on the song is often credited as establishing the blueprint for heavy metal. A more reflective, melancholic vein soon crept into The Kinks’ work, which developed into a unique Englishness, perhaps a side effect of the Musicians’ Union ban that prevented the band from visiting America from 1965 to 1969.

Davies’ occasional solo career got under way with the single ‘Death Of A Clown’, co-written with Ray, which subsequently appeared on Something Else By The Kinks (1967). Three other singles followed, but it was not until 1980 that he issued his first solo album, Dave Davies (also known by its catalogue number AF1-3603). In the 1970s and 1980s, The Kinks became a major live attraction in America and with Ray playing less onstage, Dave adopted a dual-purpose rhythm-lead style, primarily on a Gibson L5-S, using very few effects. Other instruments played in his lengthy career include a Gibson Flying V Futura, a Gibson Les Paul and a Fender Telecaster, plus an Ovation and a Martin for acoustic work.

Although a split was never formally announced, The Kinks last performed together in 1996, after which both brothers began work on solo projects. In 2004, Davies suffered a stroke, which has affected his ability to sing and play, although he has since recorded two solo albums, Fractured Mindz (2007) and I Will Be Me (2013), and in 2010 a DVD, Mystical Journey.

Essential Recordings

The Kinks: Face to Face

The Kinks: Something Else By The Kinks

The Kinks: Muswell Hillbillies

Solo: Dave Davies

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