Personalities | The Kinks | Sixties | Rock

One of the more popular bands of the ‘British Invasion’ and a considerable influence on both 1970s heavy metal outfits and 1990s groups such as Blur and Oasis, The Kinks went through numerous line-up changes but were always led by singer-songwriter Ray Davies (born 21 June 1944), while his brother Dave (born 3 February 1947) supplied the band’s signature rock guitar sound.

Raw Unbridled Energy

Born and raised in Muswell Hill, North London, the Davies boys were a little younger than many of their contemporaries on the mid-1960s scene, Dave being only 16 when he and Ray formed an R&B outfit named The Ravens with schoolfriend Pete Quaife (born 31 December 1943) on bass and Mickey Willet on drums. Willet was quickly replaced by Mick Avory (born 15 February 1944), previously a member of the fledgling Rolling Stones, just as the group was signed to Pye Records courtesy of American producer Shel Talmy and changed its name to The Kinks.

Talmy, as later evidenced by his production of The Who’s debut album and first three singles, had a penchant for capturing raw, unbridled energy on tape, and this was clearly the case when, following a couple of unsuccessful releases, The Kinks’ ‘You Really Got Me’ stormed its way to the top of the UK charts in 1964 and made the US Top 10. Featuring Ray’s idiosyncratic vocal style, the metal-ish, high-volume record was truly distinguished by Dave’s fierce, distorted, proto-punk power chords – purportedly achieved by him sticking knitting needles into his amplifier – and wild, unrestrained solo, and the formula was repeated on ‘All Day And All Of The Night’, which peaked at No. 2 in Britain and No. 7 in the US.

Big In Britain, Banned In America

Up to this point, noted session drummer Bobby Graham had played on The Kinks’ records while Mick Avory provided additional percussion, but hereafter Avory would assume his rightful place and by 1965 the band had recorded a couple of so-so albums and several EPs while making non-stop concert and TV appearances. However, things ground to an untimely halt in America during the summer of that year when the group was banned from re-entering the country following a tour marred by conflicts with promoters over money and concert venues.

The ban would last four years, during which time Ray Davies’ compositions would become more introspective and whimsically English – as characterized by such classic UK hits as ‘Dedicated Follower Of Fashion’, ‘Sunny Afternoon’, ‘Dead End Street’, ‘Waterloo Sunset’, ‘Autumn Almanac’ and ‘Days’ – while disputes with his publishing company, the band’s management and even its members (including some notorious onstage fights) would contribute to his nervous breakdown.

As The Kinks grew increasingly out of touch with a contemporary scene that was replete with psychedelia and social upheaval, they released critically acclaimed albums of great artistry: The Village Green Preservation Society (1968), a nostalgic reflection on Ray’s favoured English traditions, was succeeded...

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Source: The Definitive Illustrated Encyclopedia of Rock, general editor Michael Heatley


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