Few rock bands can boast a lifetime of more than 30 years, especially those whose members exhibit such open enmity as do Ray and Dave Davies of the Kinks. Yet not only have the seminal garage-rockers accomplished this incredible feat, they have also managed to have a hit song on the charts in every decade since their formation in London, England, in the mid-1960s. For reasons unknown, however, the super-stardom accorded to most rock bands of similar longevity and influence has somehow escaped the Davies brothers and their assorted bandmates. While almost everyone even slightly familiar with rock music has heard of the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, for example, those who know of the Kinks are comparatively few. This disparity is compounded by the fact that many people who do not recognize the group’s name are familiar with their songs, especially their breakthrough 1964 hit, the much-covered and now-classic “You Really Got Me.”
Ray Davies waxes philosophic when reflecting on his band’s second-rate status. “I just take it with a pinch of
Members include David Russell Gordon Davies (born February 3, 1947, in Muswell Hill, London, England), lead guitar and vocals; Raymond Douglas Davies (born June 21, 1944, in Muswell Hill, London, England), lead vocals and guitar; Bob Henrit (born May 2, 1945), drums; Jim Rodford (born July 7, 1945), bass guitar.
Former members include Michael Charles “Mick” Avory (born February 15, 1944, in Hampton Court, London, England), drums; John Dalton, bass guitar; Gordon Edwards , keyboards; Ian Gibbons , keyboards; John Gosling , keyboards; Mark Haley , keyboards; Andy Pyle , bass guitar; Peter Alexander Greenlaw Quaife (born December 31, 1943, in Tavistock, Devon, England), bass guitar.
Group formed in England in mid-1960s; scored first worldwide hit with “You Really Got Me,” 1964; other hit songs include “Lola,” 1970, and “Come Dancing,” 1983. Ray Davies wrote and directed the film Return to Waterloo, 1985, and wrote a musical version of Around the World in Eighty Days, 1988, and the novel X-Ray, 1995.
Awards: Inducted into Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, 1990.
salt,” he told Musician in 1990. “I think we’re in our own space and we’ll be judged accordingly. I don’t think people have really appraised or valued our work yet. ‘Cause maybe the work cycle hasn’t completed itself. It’s only when you get to the point where you can’t do any more that people actually can reappraise it.”
The Kinks’ original lineup consisted of Ray Davies as lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist, Dave Davies on lead guitar, Peter Quaife on bass guitar, and Mick Avory on drums. Ray had been bouncing around as the guitar player for various bands when he heard about younger brother Dave’s new group and decided to join. Ray’s obvious vocal and songwriting talent quickly earned him the status of the band’s frontman. Calling themselves the Kinks—because of their often bizarre, “kinky” stage costumes—the band jumped into the club circuit and released a few relatively unsuccessful singles. The turning point came when in 1964, fighting record company pressure every step of the way, the Kinks released an iconoclastic, proto-punk paean to adolescent sexual frustration titled “You Really Got Me,” which Ray had written on the piano in his parents’ sitting room. Millions of transistor radios the world over were soon to echo with Dave Davies’s raw, distorted power chords and raging guitar solo as the song immediately shot to the peak of the British and U.S. charts.
As is the case with many songs that end up becoming hugely popular, “You Really Got Me” almost didn’t get released. The original version, produced by American Shel Talmy, was slower and weighed down with heavy instrumentation. The Kinks expressed their dissatisfaction and their desire to re-record it. Their record company, however, stingily demanded that the group pay for the studio time themselves. The four scraped together the requisite 200 British pounds and banged the tune out in just a few takes.
“You Really Got Me” managed to become one of only a few milestone songs in the history of rock music. Rolling Stone magazine voted it Number 15 on its list of Top 100 singles from the years 1964 to 1988, writing, “The fierce, machine-gun-like stutter of Dave Davies’s fuzzed-up guitar … is arguably the most influential and imitated riff of rock’s last quarter century.” Indeed, the Kinks themselves were to recycle the riff in their next few hit singles, “All Day and All of the Night,” “Tired of Waiting for You,” and “Till the End of the Day.”
Never content to simply ride the wave of success, the Kinks soon proved they were something more than the average mid-1960s one-hit wonder. Ray’s talent for writing meaningful lyrics and infectious melodies gave the band a series of smash singles in England in the late 1960s, including “Sunny Afternoon,” “A Well-Respected Man,” “Death of a Clown” (written by Dave), “Autumn Almanac,” “Where Have All the Good Times Gone,” “Set Me Free,” and “Waterloo Sunset,” among others.
Unfortunately, for reasons somewhat unclear, during their first U.S. tour in 1965 the Kinks had an altercation with the American Federation of Television and Recording Artists and were barred from playing live in the United States until 1969. As a result, their American chart singles were few in number during this period. The group did not spend this time dormant, however. When they finally did return to the United States, it was with a level of sophistication hardly before seen in the pop world.
The record-buying public, however, was sometimes ill prepared to deal with the Kinks’ new worldliness. Ray, a “genuine and brilliant neurotic in a landscape full of sham psychotics,” according to Fred Schruers of Rolling Stone, had begun to move in strange new directions. “Lola,” perhaps the Kinks’ second-most-famous single, is generally considered to be the only Top Ten U.S. song to deal openly with transvestism and homosexuality.
Around this time the Kinks also began a short but unhappy relationship with music-industry giant RCA Records. Instead of delivering hit singles as expected, the band began to churn out unconventional concept albums. Ray’s fascination with the theater and film led to elaborately staged—and critically faulted—concerts and records, such as Preservation, Everybody’s in Showbiz, Everybody’s a Star, and Soap Opera. Dave, on the other hand, was growing increasingly dissatisfied with the road the Kinks were taking, and his relationship with his brother sank to a new low. Ray’s alcoholic consumption, both onstage and off, escalated dangerously during this period, and he threatened to quit the band several times throughout the decade. Dave took this one step further and actually did depart in 1973, not to return until 1975.
By the close of the 1970s, however, the Kinks had a new record label, Arista, and a new outlook on both life and music. Ray and Dave bandaged their wounds and rejuvenated their slipshod live show. Ray also made a sincere and reasonably successful effort to get his group back on the charts. The nostalgic “Come Dancing” and “Don’t Forget to Dance” scored big for the Kinks in this era, as well as such quintessential pop singles as “(Wish I Could Fly Like) Superman” and “A Rock “n” Roll Fantasy.”
Following their stint with Arista, the Kinks jumped to MCA and then to Columbia, releasing a series of well-made and under-appreciated albums throughout the 1980s and early 1990s. During this period Ray, especially, also devoted much of his time to solo projects, such as a musical version of Jules Verne’s novel Around the World in Eighty Days, which had a limited run in California in 1988; the 1985 film Return to Waterloo, which he wrote and directed and for which he recorded a soundtrack; and a semiautobiographical detective novel titled X-Ray, published in 1995, concerning the recollections of a retired rock and roller turned hermit of north London named Ray Davies. Perhaps his extensive extracurricular activities have enabled angst-ridden artist Ray Davies to step back and assess his career, both past and future, with a new perspective. “Music is becoming more and more important to me the older I get,” he revealed in Pulse! in 1993. “The Kinks have got this tremendous catalog now, but it still feels like a work-in-progress. I’ll sit back and listen to it and recognize the connections and get the feeling that it isn’t quite finished yet. And I suppose it won’t bother me too much if my epitaph just says, ‘The guy who sang with the Kinks.”’
Dave Davies, on the other hand, is much more pragmatic. He commented in Pulse!, “I don’t know much about [the Kinks’] place in history, I’m just interested in getting on with it. I don’t have any reasons or excuses for why we’re still [making music]. I’m just glad that we still are, and I’m feeling ready for a fight.” If the younger Davies’s relentless attitude is any indicator, one day soon the Kinks just may come into their own.
The Kinks, Pye, 1964.
You Really Got Me, Pye, 1964.
Kinks-Size, Pye, 1965.
Kinda Kinks, Pye, 1966.
Face to Face, Reprise, 1966.
The Live Kinks, Reprise, 1967.
Kinkdom, Reprise, 1967.
Greatest Hits, Reprise, 1968.
Something Else by the Kinks, Reprise, 1968.
The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society, Reprise, 1969.
Arthur (or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire), Reprise 1969.
Lola Versus Powerman and the Moneygoround, Part One, Reprise, 1970.
Percy, Pye, 1971.
Muswell Hillbillies, Reprise, 1971, re-released, Rhino, 1990.
The Kink Kronikles, Reprise, 1972.
Everybody’s in Showbiz, Everybody’s a Star, Reprise, 1972, re-released, Rhino, 1990.
Preservation, Act One, RCA, 1973.
Preservation, Act Two, RCA, 1974.
Soap Opera, RCA, 1975, re-released, Rhino, 1990.
Schoolboys in Disgrace, RCA, 1975, re-released, Rhino, 1990.
Greatest Hits—Celluloid Heroes, RCA, 1976.
Sleepwalker, Arista, 1977.
Misfits, Arista, 1978.
Low Budget, Arista, 1979.
One for the Road, Arista, 1980.
Second Time Around, RCA, 1980.
Give the People What They Want, Arista, 1981.
State of Confusion, Arista, 1983.
Word of Mouth, Arista, 1984.
Come Dancing with the Kinks, Arista, 1986.
Think Visual, MCA, 1987.
Live: the Road, MCA, 1988.
Kinda Kinks, Rhino, 1988.
Kinks-Size Kinkdom, Rhino, 1988.
You Really Got Me, Rhino, 1988.
Greatest Hits, Rhino, 1989.
Lost and Found, MCA, 1989.
UK Jive, MCA, 1989.
Preservation (A Play in Two Acts), Rhino, 1991.
Did Ya (EP), Columbia, 1991.
Phobia, Columbia, 1993.
To the Bone, Konk, 1994.
Musician, January 1987; March 1990.
Newsweek, July 5, 1993.
Pulse!, May 1993.
Rolling Stone, November 2, 1978; September 8, 1988; May 13, 1993; April 20, 1995.
"The Kinks." Contemporary Musicians. . Encyclopedia.com. (October 19, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/kinks
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