The Purple Pinup Guru Platform

When purple things are pulsating on your mind, I'm the one whose clock you want to clean. Aiding is Sparky, the Astral Plane Zen Pup Dog from his mountain stronghold on the Northernmost Island of the Happy Ninja Island chain, this blog will also act as a journal to my wacky antics at an entertainment company and the progress of my self published comic book, The Deposit Man which only appears when I damn well feel like it. Real Soon Now.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Sparky: In the mood for the Kinks ...

The Kinks
The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.
The Kinks

Country London, England, UK
Years active 19631996
Genre(s) British Invasion, British rock
Label(s) Pye, RCA Records and Arista Records
Members Ray Davies
Dave Davies
Jim Rodford
Bob Henrit
Ian Gibbons
The Kinks were a British rock group. They first gained prominence in the mid-1960s on the heels of the well-received and highly influential single "You Really Got Me". Originally consisting of lead singer/guitarist Ray Davies, his brother lead guitarist Dave Davies, drummer Mick Avory and bassist Peter Quaife. The core of the group over the years has remained the Davies brothers. With Ray's splendid songwriting skills and 'mockney' vocals, Dave's impressive guitar work and Avory's tight and steady drumming, the band became one of the best and most influential groups of British rock and the "British Invasion" of America.

It is ironic that one of Britain's most enduring and respected bands, spawned from the beat boom of the early 60s, received, for the best part of two decades, success, adulation and financial reward in the USA. This most "English" institution was able to fill stadiums in any part of the USA or Europe, while in their homeland Britain, a few thousand devotees watched their heroes perform in comparatively small clubs or halls. This reflected mostly in Davies' songwriting, where he mocked the British gluttonous aristocracy and philistinism.

For a brief period in the mid-'60s, the band rivalled The Rolling Stones as the second most popular British group behind only The Beatles. Just as the group were starting their artistic best, internal squabbles, conflicts with the music industry, and an untimely ban from touring the United States eroded their popularity on both sides of the Atlantic. However, they experienced popular fan revivals in the late-70s and early-80s and today they are credited as founding fathers of genres as diverse as Britpop, punk rock and heavy metal.


Formation and first years (1963-1965)

The musically inclined Davies brothers were born in Muswell Hill, London into a large family. Ray Davies (b. Raymond Douglas Davies, 21 June 1944; vocals/guitar/piano) studied at Hornsey College of Art and gained an experience in music as a guitarist with the Soho-based Dave Hunt Band in 1963. Meanwhile Ray's brother Dave (b. 3 February 1947; guitar/vocals) and his schoolmate Pete Quaife (b. 31 December 1943, Tavistock, Devon, England; bass) formed a band. Soon after that, they invited Ray to participate and Ray immediately accepted. Like the Davies brothers Quaife played guitar, but switched to bass.

By the summer of 1963, the band had decided to call themselves The Ravens and had recruited a drummer Mickey Willet. Eventually a demo tape landed in the hands of Shel Talmy - notorious American record producer, who helped them land a contract with Pye Records in 1964. Before signing to the label, drummer Willet left the band. The band saw an advertisement in the magazine Melody Maker of drummer Mick Avory (b. Michael Charles Avory, February 15, 1944; drums), who had a short tenure as a performer with then-fledging peers Rolling Stones. They searched him out and he became the group's drummer. In the first couple of months however Talmy hired more experienced drummers like Bobby Graham and Clem Cattini. Graham drummed on the album and the subsequent singles, while Cattini made a brief, but yet notable, contribution on "You Really Got Me". Mick was on additional percussion and still learning to drum. After their first album, the band decided to solidify Avory as their sole drummer.

The first single, "Long Tall Sally," was a cover of Little Richard. As The Beatles also covered it with enormous success, the Kinks' version was overlooked and failed to chart. Nevertheless, the band received a lot of publicity through the efforts of their managers Robert Wace, Grenville Collins, and ex-50s showbiz star Larry Page. Their second single "You Still Want Me" also failed. Pye warned the band that future mistakes wouldn't be looked with condescension - it would result in their being dropped from the label.

The third single "You Really Got Me" cracked the charts at No.1 in the UK and in to the top 10 in the US, boosted by an excellent performance on the UK television show Ready, Steady, Go!. With a loud, distorted guitar riff (achieved by Dave Davies slitting the speaker cones of his "elpico little green" amplifier with razor blades), "You Really Got Me" helped launch hard rock. "All Day and All of the Night," the group's fourth single, was released late in 1964 and it rose all the way to No. 2; in America it hit No. 7.
The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.
Kwyet Kinks EP, 1965

The group continued to record, with three albums and several EPs in the next 2 years. They also performed and toured relentlessly, which caused much tension within the band. At the conclusion of their summer 1965 American tour, the Kinks were banned from re-entering the United States by the American Federation of Musicians Union, after ugly conflicts with the American tour promoters over money and performance venues. For four years, the Kinks were prohibited from returning to the U.S., which meant not only that the group was deprived of the world's largest music market, but also that they were effectively cut off from the musical and social upheavals of the late 60s. Consequently Davies's songwriting grew more introspective, relying more on English influences such as music hall and English folk than did most of his British contemporaries.

At this time, Davies also became embroiled in bitter legal disputes with the band's management and music publishing company that would drag on through the rest of the decade. Some legendary onstage fights erupted during this time as well. In the most notorious incident, at The Capitol Theatre, Cardiff, Wales in 1965, the normally placid drummer Avory hit Davies with his drum pedal and assaulted him on stage. This fight was a reprisal for Davies kicking over his bass drum as revenge for a drunken fight the previous night in Taunton, apparently won by Mick. He then fled into hiding for days to avoid arrest for grievous bodily harm.

The band's stylistic changes were first evident in late 1965, with the appearance of "A Well Respected Man," "Dedicated Follower of Fashion," and the third album The Kinks Kontroversy. These demonstrated the progression in Davies's songwriting from hard driving rock numbers towards social commentary, observation, and idiosyncratic character study, all with an increasingly English flavour. The satiric single "Sunny Afternoon" was the biggest hit of the summer of 1966 in the U.K., topping the charts.

Prior to its release, Ray Davies suffered a nervous and physical breakdown from the pressures of touring, writing, and ongoing legal squabbles. Consequently, he spent several months recuperating. This gave him enough time to write new songs and ponder about the band's direction and with renewed energy he spearheaded into characterization and lash of the English every day life.

Quaife was also forced to leave the band for much of 1966 after an automobile accident. After he recovered, he decided to step away of the band. He was briefly replaced by the future full-time bass player John Dalton, who handled bass duties on touring engagements. Quaife decided to return at the end of the year.

"Golden Age" (1966-1972)

"Sunny Afternoon" was a dry run for the band's great Face to Face. One of the earliest concept albums, Face to Face displayed Davies' growing skill at crafting gentle yet cutting narrative songs about everyday life and people. The great social comment single "Dead End Street" was released at the time of Face to Face, and became another big U.K. hit.

In May 1967, they returned with one of the greatest Davies' songs--"Waterloo Sunset"--a simple but emotional tour de force with the melancholic singer observing two lovers (many have suggested actor Terence Stamp and actress Julie Christie, but Davies denies this) meeting and crossing over Hungerford Bridge in London. Released in the autumn of 1967, the excellent songs on the album Something Else By The Kinks continued the musical progressions of Face to Face, but without the stronger thematic consistency of that album. Dave Davies also scored major chart success with "Death of a Clown," cowritten with Ray and recorded by The Kinks, but released as a Davies solo single. Later, even the Rolling Stones would remark that these two albums were very influential to their own albums of the late 60s.

Although the band grew tremendously in a mere couple of years, their performance in the charts was lackluster, as the tastes of the pop world began to change. After the weak reception of Something Else, the Kinks rushed out a new single, "Autumn Almanac," which became a big U.K. hit. But "Wonderboy," an ill-considered single released in the spring of 1968, was the band's first not to "make it" to the Top Ten, stalling at No. 36.

The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.
The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society, 1968

Throughout 1968, Davies doggedly continued to pursue his deeply personal songwriting style, while at the same time rebelling against the heavy demands placed on him to keep producing commercial hit singles. Thereafter, The Kinks released the classic "Days," which recaptured a bit of the audience and made No. 12 in the summer of 1968, but the band's lack of success was clear by the failure of The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society, released in the autumn of 1968. A brilliant collection of thematically-related vignettes assembled from songs written and recorded over the previous two years, the album lacked a commercial single and was sorely out of touch with the social and psychedelic music popular at the time. While commercially unsuccessful, it was well-received by the new underground rock press, particularly in the U.S., where The Kinks' status as a cult band began to grow. Village Green is now widely considered one of the best records of that time.

Original bassist Peter Quaife grew tired of Ray Davies' dominant role and lack of commercial success, and resigned in March 1969. He was swiftly replaced by John Dalton, who was a permanent part of the band.

The American ban upon the band was finally removed and the band was free to tour the U.S. after a four-year absence. The early U.S. shows were held in small venues (such as the Fillmore East), and reportedly were rather disorganized and chaotic, as the band had to adapt to a concert scene that had changed radically in their absence. It took several years of extensive touring in the U.S. between 1969 and 1972 before the band developed a disciplined stage act that would generate positive reviews and draw crowds to medium and large size concert venues.

Before their return to the US, the Kinks crafted another superb album, called Arthur (Or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire). As with the previous two albums, Arthur was soaked with British lyrical and musical hooks, having been conceived as the score for a proposed television drama, which never materialised. It was a modest commercial success, and was particularly well received by music critics in America, where it was very favorably compared to the contemporary album Tommy by the Who, even lauded as superior in some prominent articles.

While the band were recording the follow-up to Arthur, they added a keyboardist to their line-up as Ray, who handled the keyboard duties so far, felt that he wasn't good enough and that the band needed a professional keyboardist. They added John Gosling, whose debut with the band was on "Lola" – a satiric account of a confused meeting with a possible transvestite – that cracked the charts in both the U.K. and the U.S. The song originally contained a reference to "Coca Cola" which the BBC refused to play as it was considered against their advertising policy so it had to be hastily re-recorded with the change to "cherry cola". The album Lola versus Powerman and the Moneygoround, Part One was their most successful since the mid-60s on both sides of the Atlantic, helping them to become a highly regarded stage act, and spawned the group's final UK Top 10 hit "Apeman."

In 1971, the band released Percy, a soundtrack album to a film of the same name. It is generally regarded as a lesser Kinks effort, and the band's US label, Reprise, declined to release it in America, precipitating a major dispute that contributed to the band's departure from that label.

In 1971, the band's contracts expired with Pye and Reprise. Before the end of the year, the Kinks signed a five-album deal with RCA Records, receiving a million dollar advance. This helped them construct their own recording studio "Konk" and have bigger control over the output. Their debut album for RCA was Muswell Hillbillies, a brilliant piece of work that recalled the band's late-60s albums, though with a stronger country and music hall influence. Although it was one of their finest albums, it failed to be a commercial success. A few months after the release of Muswell Hillbillies, Reprise released a double-album compilation called The Kink Kronikles, which outsold their RCA debut.

After that the band released Everybody's in Showbiz (1972), an excellent double set consisting half of studio tracks and half of live recordings. The studio part was in the same league of Muswell Hillbillies as it was soaked with american country influence. The record most prominently featured the splendid ballad "Celluloid Heroes" – arguably Ray Davies' best ballad, featuring the talent of John Gosling – and the catchy "Supersonic Rocket Ship," their last UK Top 20 hit for over a decade. The epic "Celluloid Heroes" – featuring unknown sofar cinematic sweep, especially in light of the fact that Ray almost never wrote a song that took more than three or four minutes – was a bittersweet rumination on dead Hollywood stars in which Ray admits that he wishes his life were like a movie, "Because celluloid heroes never feel any pain/And celluloid heroes never really die." The album was a commercial failure in the U.K., but more successful in the U.S.

Failure of rock operas (1973-1976)

In 1973, Ray Davies dove headlong into the theatrical style, with a rock opera called Preservation, a sprawling chronicle of social revolution that is a more ambitious if less successful outgrowth of the earlier Village Green Preservation Society. The move was less odd than it has perhaps been perceived to be, since Ray Davies' songwriting style going back at least as far as "David Watts" had often revolved around creating vivid character sketches and then singing from a fictional perspective. In conjunction with the Preservation project, Davies expanded the Kinks' lineup to include a horn section and female backup singers, essentially reforming the group as a theatrical troupe. Preservation was the first project recorded at Konk Studio, the North London recording space opened and operated by the Davies brothers, in part as a way of securing their own creative destinies after the difficult Shel Talmy production era (Ray Davies had already become the band's producer during the late 60s). From this point forward, virtually every Kinks studio recording would be produced by Ray Davies at Konk.

Ray also suffered serious drug and marital problems during this period which adversely affected the band. Coupled with the alcohol abuse of Avory and Dave Davies, and the latter's lack of enthusiasm for the theatrical style, the band's output remained uneven, and their already wobbling popularity eroded. A number of the songs from this period are worthy of rediscovery, however, including the delicate "Daylight" and "Where Are They Now?" from Preservation Act 1 and the more rock-oriented "Money Talks" and "He's Evil" from Preservation Act 2.

When the first part of Preservation — closer in spirit to vaudeville than to opera — was released in late 1973, it received generally poor reviews, though its live performances fared better with the critics. Act 2 appeared in the summer of 1974, facing similar reception. Davies began another musical, Starmaker, for the BBC; the project eventually metamorphosed into the thematically complex if uneven concept album The Kinks present A Soap Opera, released in the spring of 1975, in which Ray Davies fantasized about what would happen if a rock star traded places with a "normal Norman" and took a 9-to-5 job.

In 1976, the Kinks recorded their final theatrical work, Schoolboys in Disgrace, a backstory biography of Preservation's capitalist overlord Mr. Flash. Compared with the previous three albums, the songs on Schoolboys were more independent from the album's concept, and they were harder sounding than any of the previous RCA albums (the riff-rocker "The Hard Way" would emerge as a particular fan favorite during this period). From a critical point of view, the theatrical concept albums now are viewed as rather self-idulgent, over-ambitious records, but are also seen as an essential bridge between the early and late incarnations of the band.

Much of the improvement on Schoolboys was due to the bands' considerable growth as musicians. Dave Davies showed a dramatic emergence as an excellent, modern rock guitarist. Mick Avory fleshed out his skills and became a powerful first-class drummer. Ray Davies' health and commitment to the rock basics the band had pioneered in the 60s also improved, and the mid-70s found him completely kicking his drug and alcohol addictions, and writing mainstream rock songs with renewed energy.

In 1976, the Kinks signed with Arista Records. With the encouragement of Arista's management, they recast themselves as a commercial rock group again, stripping down to a five-person core group and jettisoning the extra personnell from the theatrical phase. Essentially, they abandoned the experimentation of the previous decade and resumed the style they had created in late 1965.

Rock was also in a back-to-basics trend at this time, spearheaded by the Punk movement and the emergence of late 1970s "supergroups". Fortuitously for The Kinks, one of the biggest of these, Van Halen, achieved their breakthrough hit with a powerful remake of "You Really Got Me", which in turn greatly boosted The Kinks' resurgence. With the Davies' renewed creativity, the band bounced back on the record charts, and began their most commercially successful period, especially in America, a country they were at last to conquer over ten years after their peers in the mid-1960s "British Invasion" had taken the US by storm.

Second Golden Age (1977-1984)

John Dalton left the band before finishing one track "Mr. Big Man" for their debut Arista album. Andy Pyle was brought in to complete the track and to play on the following tour. Sleepwalker reversed recent trends when it cracked the charts in the U.S., with many notable songs, including the title track, the touching ballad "Brother" and the reflective rocker "Juke Box Music" among others. The one-off single "Father Christmas" followed in late 1977, becoming a seasonal fixture on American radio; the B-side "Prince of Punks" was Ray Davies' satirical comment on sometime protege Tom Robinson of "2-4-6-8 Motorway" fame.

Andy Pyle and keyboardist John Gosling left the group to work together on a different project before the Kinks could release the follow-up album to Sleepwalker. Dalton returned to the fold and ex-The Pretty Things keyboardist Gordon Edwards joined the band in order to complete a tour. The Kinks' second Arista album Misfits was also successful in the U.S., and featured the fantastic title ballad (a song about the band's difficulties sustaining commercial success), and "A Rock 'n' Roll Fantasy," a stirring, mid-life-crisis-themed tribute to The Kinks' dedicated fanbase. Misfits is often cited as one of the band's best from their late catalogue. However, there were further changes before The Kinks coalesced around a more stable line-up.

After the band ended a British tour, Dalton left, this time permanently, with Edwards soon to follow. Ex-Argent bassist Jim Rodford joined and the band recorded as a four-piece the follow-up Low Budget with Ray handling keyboard duties. Former Life-keyboardist Ian Gibbons was drafted for the following tour and soon become a permanent member, completing the five-member line-up. Despite the personnel changes, the group's recording and concert success continued to grow. With their well-honed stage craft and great repertoire, they were beginning to play large sell-out concerts again in the United States.

The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

During this time in the late 1970s, punk bands like The Jam ("David Watts") and The Pretenders ("Stop Your Sobbing") and heavy metal acts like Van Halen ("You Really Got Me") recorded successful covers of Kinks songs, boosting each band's fame. At the same time, these cover versions helped fuel the commercial success of each new Kinks release, with The Kinks reaching a new commercial highpoint in America via the hard and punk rock sounds of Low Budget (1979) - the group's most successful album in America, peaking at number 11. Davies' wry songwiting skills hit a second creative peak, as he crafted intelligent, polished, and commercially appealing songs like "Pressure", "A Little Bit of Abuse", "Catch Me Now I'm Falling", and the minor, disco-flavored hit "(Wish I Could Fly Like) Superman".

A live album (their third) and video, both called "One for the Road", followed in 1980, and its success pushed their concert drawing power to a peak between 1980 and 1983. Dave Davies also took advantage of the group's improved commercial standing to fulfill his decade-long solo ambitions, releasing a series of well-received albums on his own.

The next Kinks album, Give the People What They Want, was released in late 1981 and reached number 15 in the U.S.. The record attained gold status, and featured the optimistic pub-rocker "Better Things," believed by some critics to be the finest achievement of this revitalized period, and certainly among the songs most reminiscent of the band's 60s-era sound and song structures. The Kinks spent the better part of 1982 touring. In spring 1983, the nostalgia-themed and swing-flavoured "Come Dancing" became their biggest American hit since "Tired of Waiting for You". Owing to repeated airings of an affiliated music video on the American music television network MTV, "Come Dancing" reached number 6 and number 12 in the U.S. and UK, respectively. The anthemic album State of Confusion followed (cited by fans as another gem of that particular era) and it was another commercial success, going to number 12 in the U.S. Prominent tracks were the ballads "Don't Forget to Dance," "Long Distance" and the title track. Especially notable for fans of The Kinks' 60s achievements was "Young Conservatives," an attack on the politics of America's Ronald Regan and on British Thatcherism that is essentially an updated sequel to "David Watts", replete with a few of the old trademark "fa-fa-fa-fa"'s. During this time, Ray Davies also became romantically involved with Pretenders leader Chrissie Hynde, herself a longtime Kinks fan, resulting in the birth of a daughter, Natalie Ray, in 1983.

The Kinks' second wave of popularity effectively peaked with State of Confusion in 1983, but both internal and external factors would soon begin to undermine them. A music video-fueled influx of new, fresh talent and styles into popular music at this time effectively muted the early 80s resurgence of many of the classic acts (including fellow UK bands such as David Bowie, The Who, and even The Rolling Stones). Bands more or less influenced by The Kinks like U2, the Smiths, The Jam and Duran Duran were topping charts and being raised to stardom. Also, the concert market for Kinks shows in the US had largely been played out by a decade of almost non-stop touring. As these outside pressures mounted, the internal strife in the group reached a critical point, too.

During the second half of 1983, Ray Davies started working on an ambitious solo film project, Return to Waterloo, a characteristic exercise about a London commuter who daydreams he's a serial murderer which is notable for giving actor Tim Roth a significant early role. Davies' commitment to writing, directing and scoring the new work once again strained the relationship with his brother. Another problem was the stormy end of the volatile relationship between Davies and Chrissie Hynde. Then the old feud between Dave Davies and The Kinks' quiet drummer Mick Avory restarted. Soon Dave wanted Avory replaced by the former drummer from the early 70s British "prog rock" band Argent - Robert Henrit, who also drummed on Dave's solo albums. Bassist Jim Rodford was formerly the bass player in Argent, so it can be assumed that he recommended Henrit to Dave Davies.

These conflicts took a heavy toll when Avory – Ray Davies' best friend in the band and a founding member – left. It is hard to belittle Mick Avory's tight and steady drumming and immense contribution to The Kinks over the course of two decades. His relationship with Dave Davies had reached a breaking point, and blood proved thicker than water. Reportedly, Dave Davies refused to work with Avory and, unwillingly, Ray Davies had to choose sides. As Ray said in a 1989 interview, "The saddest day for me was when Mick left.... Mick had an important sound. Mick wasn't a great drummer, but he was a jazz drummer - same school, same era as Charlie Watts."

Ray Davies' long-time friendship with and affection for Avory is apparent in several ways. Avory remained with the band for over two decades, while myriad bassists and keyboardists came and went. Also, after leaving the band, Avory assumed a management position at Konk Studio, and made a cameo appearance beside Ray in the video for "Do It Again," a song from 1984's Word of Mouth. Mick also made occasional appearences behind the drums on subsequent Kinks album, although he refused to rejoin. Bob Henrit was brought in to take Avory's place. Given his prior professional connections to both Rodford and Dave, he was the obvious choice.

Between the completion of Return to Waterloo and Avory's departure, the band had already begun work on the underrated Word of Mouth, released in late 1984 with Avory still part of the line-up on three tracks. The album was similar to the last few Kinks records, but many of the best songs had already been featured in solo versions on Ray Davies' companion album for Return to Waterloo, and some others lacked the heart, cleverness, and quality of the previous albums. The Kinks' rhythm section, no longer supported by the reliable and steady Avory, was especially troubled, with a third of the tracks performed by Avory, others by Henrit and still others by a drum machine which the band employed before the arrival of Henrit when Avory and Dave Davies began fighting. Meanwhile, reports circulated that the Davies brothers were performing their album parts separately, unable to face each other in the studio. Despite everything, some standout material made the cut, including Ray's ballad "Missing Persons" and the death-of-empire themed "Living on a Thin Line", one of the more notable Dave Davies compositions ever to appear on a Kinks album. Intense squabbles over song selections and singles released further strained the Davies brothers' working relationship. Following this album, the Kinks seemed to lose a creative and commercial edge that they never fully recovered, and they never again made it to the Top 40.

Fall in popularity (1985-1996)

Word of Mouth was the last Kinks album for Arista Records. In early 1986, the group signed with MCA Records in the United States and London Records in the UK. Their first album for the new label, Think Visual, (1986) was a moderate success, and holds interest as a result of songs like "Working at the Factory," which equated making records with blue-collar life on an assembly line, and the title track, an attack on the very MTV video culture the band seemed to be enjoying so much during the earlier part of the decade. Ominously for the band's commercial future, there were no hit singles. Think Visual was also notable in that during the sessions Mick Avory patched up his friendship with Dave Davies and played on Dave's composition "Rock 'N' Roll Cities", inaugurating a tradition of Avory cameo appearances for future Kinks albums. Avory was asked to rejoin The Kinks, but declined, desiring a break from the non-stop schedule of recording, touring and performing of his 20 years with the band. The Kinks followed Think Visual in 1987 with another live album, titled The Road, which was a mediocre commercial and critical performer. In 1989, the Kinks released UK Jive - an out and out failure, commercially and critically. It took two years, but MCA Records ultimately dropped them as a result, leaving The Kinks scrambling to find a label deal for the first time in over a quarter of a century. Longtime keyboardist Ian Gibbons left the group during this period, disappointed with the band's sudden lack of success.

In 1990, their first year of eligibility, The Kinks were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame alongside The Who, Simon and Garfunkel, The Four Seasons, The Four Tops, Hank Ballard and The Platters. Mick Avory and Pete Quaife were on hand for the award. Ray Davies lived up to his reputation for combining personal diffidence with wry social comment when he looked out at the audience of greying musical emminences and said, "Seeing everybody makes me realize rock 'n' roll has become respectable. What a bummer." The prestigious induction, however, did not bring back The Kinks' stagnated career. In 1991, a compilation of the best of their modest achievements from the MCA Records period, Lost & Found (1986-1989), arrived as a contract fullfiller, and their MCA period officially ended. Thereafter the band signed with Columbia Records and released an EP called Did Ya, which didn't chart at all.

The Kinks' first album for Columbia, Phobia (1993), was released and recorded by the band as a four-piece. Gibbons rejoined for the tours and became again part of the band. The record was critically well received, but yet again a commercial failure. The album, which contained a disproportionate contribution from Dave Davies and an at times overzealous heavy rock sound, suffered from lack of promotion (the public still perceiving the Kinks as a 60s act). But Phobia had moments of historical interest, including the call and response duet "Hatred," in which the Davies brothers sent up their fractious reputation as brawling bretheren, and "Scattered", as good a song as Ray Davies has ever written, which, when released as a single, was totally ignored, apart from a few pro-Kinks radio broadcasters.

Following this failure, the group was dropped by Columbia in 1994, leaving the band to release the career-summarizing double CD live set To The Bone, which consisted of two new studio tracks paired with effective new treatments of many old Kinks hits, on independent labels in the UK and the US. (The US version of the album was substantially longer than the original, single-disc British edition.) After the Hall of Fame induction, the Kinks decided to make some moves in the "unplugged" direction and softened their live performances, giving sensitive treatment to little-played songs from their early career (such as "Days"). In 1995, Dave Davies co-composed the soundtrack to horror filmmaker John Carpenter's remake of the 1960 alien invasion classic "Village of the Damned."

The band's name and profile considerably rose in the mid 1990s, mainly due to the British rock boom called "Britpop" by the UK press. Several of the most prominent bands of the decade, including Blur, Pulp, Suede and Oasis, acknowledged The Kinks as a major influence on their careers and proclaimed themselves as among The Kinks' most admiring students. Blur frontman Damon Albarn and Oasis' chief songwriter Noel Gallagher especially stressed that the Kinks were one of the bands that made the biggest impact on their songwriting as well as their development as artists and musicians.

Ray Davies took to his familiar role as a touchstone for yet another generation of British rockers, and acted as Britpop's "godfather" in a manner reminiscent of his relationship to The Jam and The Pretenders in the late-1970s. His intricate autobiographical novel X-Ray was published in early 1995, while the Britpop hysteria was at its peak in the UK. Not to be outdone, brother Dave Davies responded with his memoir Kink, published in the spring of 1996.

Disintegration and solo work (1997-present)

The Kinks performed together for the last time in late 1996. The working relationship between the Davies brothers seemed to have broken down completely in early 1997. Talk of a Kinks reunion has circulated (including an aborted reunion of the original band members in 1999), but both Ray and Dave Davies have shown tepid interest in playing together again. One of Ray's projects has included a symphony commissioned by the Norfolk and Norwich Festival, and regular touring with his own backup band. Dave also toured and released solo work prolifically after the Kinks' demise. But despite all the post-break-up activity, the old ties could still bind: In 1998, Ray Davies released the solo album Storyteller (a companion piece to his autobiographical novel X-Ray) which celebrated his old band and his estranged brother in terms that might have been called "loving." Before becoming an album, Storyteller began life as a cabaret style show in 1996. Seeing the programming possibilities inherent in Ray Davies' music/dialogue/reminiscence format, the American music television network VH-1 launched a series of similar projects featuring established rock artists, titling their show "VH-1 Storytellers," a name Davies nicked in return for his album as a reference to the American video channel's acknowledged inspiration in Davies' innovative stagework.

Ray Davies was awarded the rank of Commander of the British Empire or CBE (the rank below Knighthood) by Queen Elizabeth II in 2004, for "services to music." A number of the Kinks' former supporting players, such as John Dalton, John Gosling and Mick Avory, also perform in Europe and the UK as the "Kast-Off Kinks", where they are occaisionally joined by Ray Davies' first wife Rasa, who replicates the back-up vocals she contributed to on the classic Kinks tracks of the mid-to-late 1960s. In 2004, drummer Mick Avory joined a "supergroup" of 60s British pop veterans called The Class of 64 (the name refers to the year of the British Invasion music breakthrough), in a line-up including Chip Hawkes from The Tremeloes and Eric Haydock (The Hollies) and also featuring guitarists "Telecaster" Ted Tomlin and Graham Pollock. The band tours internationally, and has recorded an album of hits from the primary bandmembers' pasts, and an original single.

Beginning in the late 1990s, Ray Davies spent almost ten years working on his first solo record of original work created with no relationship to The Kinks' back catalogue. Called Other People's Lives, it was released in early 2006 to near universal critical acclaim. Populated by Kinks-ian character studies but somewhat more musically eclectic than the band's late period albums, Other People's Lives suggested that Davies' musical instincts were slightly more wide-ranging when released from the heavier-rock counterweight Dave's lead guitar histrionics represented. Standout tracks included the three detailed portraits of compromised masculinity that make up "Next Door Neighbour;" the dense and autobiographical break-up rocker "All She Wrote;" the soul-influenced chronicle of American melancholia "Thanksgiving Day;" and "The Tourist," a slinky pop song that is lyrically one of Ray Davies' bleakest comments on the emptiness of international consumer culture. Despite widespread praise, even a few of the more worshipful critics noted the absence of the old Davies-Davies-Avory ragged glory on some of the more full-out rock compositions.

Both Davies brothers suffered injuries in 2004. On January 4, Ray Davies was shot in the leg while chasing thieves who had snatched the purse of his companion in the French Quarter of New Orleans. Dave Davies suffered the more serious health crisis on June 30 when he had a stroke in an elevator at the London offices of the BBC, where he had been promoting his latest solo record, Bug, a concept album based in Davies' belief that he was contacted telepathically by space aliens in the 1970s (the incident is also the subject of "True Story", a track from his 1983 solo record Chosen People). Dave Davies was hospitalized and released on August 27.

Ironically, Dave's stroke caused what appeared to be a temporary reconcilliation, with Ray Davies telling journalists that Dave Davies was working closely with his older brother to regain his guitar skills. For a moment, it seemed that the Davies brothers were back to having a good relationship - something considered abnormal for two decades. "I'm spending lots of time with Dave," Ray Davies told the UK newspaper Sunday Express at the time. "I'm coaching him along as best I can to re-learn the guitar. Actually, we're getting along better than ever. As soon as he can play guitar again, then it's back to the old hatred." Ray Davies' joking words proved prophetic. In December 2005, a somewhat improved Dave Davies told Sunday Express that Ray's claims of being instrumental in his recovery were "a load of bollocks," adding, "that is so Ray. He likes to think he's the good guy.... He was very sympathetic when I was ill of course, but I've had great therapists.... Ray's not been part of that." By February 2006, Ray Davies was responding to audiences' shouted inquiries about Dave's health by saying, "He's giving me a hard time, so he must be better." Perhaps Ray Davies put it best in September 2005 when he told the UK magazine METRO: "I think sibling rivalry never goes away. That's the pleasure and the pain of it. I think it's a part of what gives the edge to our music."

Apparently, when Dave's stroke occurred, the two brothers were seriously considering a reunion to coincide with the 40th anniversary of their first number one hit "You Really Got Me". As of 2006, Dave Davies has reportedly somewhat recovered. He can walk and talk and play guitar but has a hard time singing and playing at the same time. On advice of his doctors, Dave has not been able to go on tour, though he did manage to write and record the song "God in My Brain" about his stroke and recovery for release on the solo anthology album Kinked in March 2006. It remains to be seen if a genuine Kinks reunion will come to fruition, due to Ray's tight touring schedule behind his new album and the on-going recovery of his brother.


The Kinks were never as commercially successful as their peers, the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, the Who, or Led Zeppelin, mostly because of their internal squabbles and Ray Davies' fierce creative disdain for commercial musical trends as imposed by record labels. Nevertheless, the band is frequently cited as one of the greatest, most influential acts of the 60s and the quality of its finest material remains unquestionable. The Kinks early hard-driving singles set a standard in the mid-1960s for rock and roll that reverberated for decades. Their best albums, such as Face to Face, Something Else, Arthur, Village Green, Lola and Muswell Hillbillies are unique, literate pop masterpieces that stand alongside any albums of that influential era. The band also experienced acclaimed revivals in the late-70s-early-80s with some notable albums in this period. In 1998, Reprise underwent a long-awaited reissue program of almost all of the Kinks 60s albums. The significant amount of bonus tracks added make their best albums even more essential.

The number and types of acts the band has influenced varies from hard rock and heavy metal to punk rock, Madchester, and the notorious Britpop movement. Their influence continues to this day, with many contemporary acts acknowledging their debt to the Kinks music and to Ray Davies' superb songwriting skills. As self-professed Kinks fan Pete Townshend said for "The History of Rock 'n' Roll": "The Kinks were much more quintessentially English. I always think that Ray Davies should one day be Poet Laureate. He invented a new kind of poetry and a new kind of language for Pop writing that influenced me from the very, very, very beginning." Mick Jagger and Keith Richards have acknowledged permeating influences of the Kinks on their own classics like Between the Buttons, Beggars Banquet and Let It Bleed.

Whether or not Ray Davies can keep the band going, he has put his mark on rock music as one of the best, most prolific and perceptive songwriters of our time. His catalogue of songs, saturated with English musical and lyrical influence, is one of the finest available, and he remains one of the most acute observers of the quirks and eccentricities of ordinary English life.


The band went through many line-ups over the years, with the Davies brothers and Avory remaining for most of the band's history. Ray says that he'd "never fired anyone before. When someone in the nucleus of the band goes, I get upset... but now I'm used to people leaving me, I expect it every day."


  • Vocals, songwriting, rhythm guitar, keyboards (1964-1970): Ray Davies
  • Lead guitar, harmony backing vocals, occasional songwriting & lead vocals: Dave Davies
  • Drums and percussion: Mick Avory

Bass guitar (1964-1984):

Keyboards (1970-1984):


  • Vocals, Rhythm Guitar, Keyboards, Songwriting: Ray Davies
  • Lead guitar, harmony and backing vocals, occasional songwriting & lead vocals: Dave Davies
  • Bass guitar and backing vocals: Jim Rodford
  • Keyboards and backing vocals: Ian Gibbons
  • Drums and percussion: Bob Henrit
  • Production and Management: Mick Avory


For a detailed discography, see The Kinks discography.


External links

The Kinks

Line-up: Ray DaviesDave DaviesBob HenritJim RodfordIan GibbonsMick Avory

Past Members: John GoslingJohn Dalton – Andy Pyle – Gordon Edwards – Peter Quaife

Important Albums: Face to Face (1966) - Something Else By The Kinks (1967) - The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society (1968) - Arthur (Or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire) (1969) - Lola versus Powerman and the Moneygoround, Part One (1970) - Muswell Hillbillies (1971) - Everybody's in Show-Biz (1972) - Sleepwalker (1977) - Misfits (1978) - Low Budget (1979) - Give the People What They Want (1981) - State of Confusion (1983)

See Also: The Kinks discography – "You Really Got Me" – "Waterloo Sunset" – "Lola"

We all have our vulnerabilities ... - Sparks


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home