Backstage with the English rock band ‘The Kinks’

No Lies Radio Music – By Teri Perticone – Sunday July 31, 2022

The Kinks are an English rock band formed in Muswell Hill, north London, in 1964 by brothers Ray and Dave Davies. They are regarded as one of the most influential rock bands of the 1960s.[3][4] The band emerged during the height of British rhythm and blues and Merseybeat, and were briefly part of the British Invasion of the United States until their touring ban in 1965 (as a result of constant fighting between the brothers). Their third single, the Ray Davies-penned “You Really Got Me”,[4][5] became an international hit, topping the charts in the United Kingdom and reaching the Top 10 in the United States.[6] Their music was influenced by a wide range of genres, including American R&B and rock and roll initially, and later adopting British music hall, folk, and country. They gained a reputation for reflecting English culture and lifestyle, fuelled by Ray Davies’ wittily observational writing style,[4] and are considered one of the most influential groups of the period.

Ray Davies (rhythm guitar, lead vocals, keyboards) and Dave Davies (lead guitar, vocals) remained members throughout the band’s 32-year run. Longest-serving member Mick Avory (drums and percussion) was replaced by Bob Henrit, formerly of Argent, in 1984. Original bass guitarist Pete Quaife was replaced by John Dalton in 1969. After Dalton’s 1976 departure, Andy Pyle briefly served as the band’s bassist before being replaced by Argent bassist Jim Rodford in 1978. Session keyboardist Nicky Hopkins accompanied the band in the studio for many of their recordings in the mid-to-late 1960s. The band became an official five-piece in 1970, when keyboardist John Gosling joined them. Gosling quit in 1978; he was first replaced by ex-Pretty Things member Gordon Edwards, then more permanently by Ian Gibbons in 1979. The band gave its last public performance in 1996 and broke up in 1997 as a result of creative tension between the Davies brothers.

The Kinks have had five Top 10 singles on the US Billboard chart. Nine of their albums charted in the Top 40.[9] In the UK, they have had seventeen Top 20 singles and five Top 10 albums.[10] Four Kinks albums have been certified gold by the RIAA and the band have sold over 50 million records worldwide. Among numerous honours, they received the Ivor Novello Award for “Outstanding Service to British Music”.[11] In 1990, the original four members of The Kinks were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame,[4][5] as well as the UK Music Hall of Fame in November 2005. In 2018, after years of ruling out a reunion, Ray Davies and Dave Davies announced they were working to reform the Kinks.

Formation (1962–1963)

The Davies brothers were born in suburban North London on Huntingdon Road, East Finchley, the youngest and the only boys among their family’s eight children.[14] Their parents, Frederick and Annie Davies, moved the family to 6 Denmark Terrace, Fortis Green, in the neighbouring suburb of Muswell Hill.[15] At home the brothers were immersed in a world of varied musical styles, from the music hall of their parents’ generation to the jazz and early rock and roll their older sisters enjoyed.[15] Both Ray and his brother Dave, younger by almost three years, learned to play guitar, and they played skiffle and rock and roll together.

Early years (1964–1965)

The band’s first single was a cover of the Little Richard song “Long Tall Sally”. Bobby Graham, a friend of the band,[27] was recruited to play drums on the recording. He would continue to occasionally substitute for Avory in the studio and play on several of the Kinks’ early singles, including the early hits “You Really Got Me”, “All Day and All of the Night” and “Tired of Waiting for You”.[28] “Long Tall Sally” was released in February 1964, but despite the publicity efforts of the band’s managers, the single was almost completely ignored. When their second single, “You Still Want Me”, failed to chart,[29] Pye Records threatened to annul the group’s contract unless their third single was successful.

The Kinks – All Day And All Of The Night (Official Audio)

The Kinks – Tired of Waiting

A significant stylistic shift in the Kinks’ music became evident in late 1965, with the appearance of singles like “A Well Respected Man” and “Dedicated Follower of Fashion”, as well as the band’s third album, The Kink Kontroversy,[4] on which session musician Nicky Hopkins made his first appearance with the group on keyboards.[56] These recordings exemplified the development of Davies’ songwriting style, from hard-driving rock numbers toward songs rich in social commentary, observation and idiosyncratic character study, all with a uniquely English flavour

Critical success (1966–1972)

The satirical single “Sunny Afternoon” was the biggest UK hit of summer 1966, topping the charts and displacing the Beatles’ “Paperback Writer”.[57] Before the release of The Kink Kontroversy, Ray Davies suffered a nervous and physical breakdown, caused by the pressures of touring, writing and ongoing legal squabbles.[58] During his months of recuperation, he wrote several new songs and pondered the band’s direction.[58] Quaife was involved in an automobile accident,[58] and after his recovery decided to leave the band. Bassist John Dalton, who was initially hired to fill in for the injured Quaife, subsequently became his official replacement.[59] However, Quaife soon had a change of heart and rejoined the band, and Dalton went back to his previous job as a coalman.

KINKS – “Sunny Afternoon” (TOTP 1966)

The Kinks’ next single was a social commentary piece entitled “Dead End Street”. It was released in November 1966[61] and became another UK Top 10 hit,[63] although it reached only number 73 in the United States.[6] Melody Maker reviewer Bob Dawbarn praised Ray Davies’ ability to create a song with “some fabulous lyrics and a marvellous melody … combined with a great production”,[64] and music scholar Johnny Rogan described it as “a kitchen sink drama without the drama—a static vision of working class stoicism”.[63] One of the group’s first promotional music videos was produced for the song. It was filmed on Little Green Street, a small 18th-century lane in north London, located off Highgate Road in Kentish Town.

The Kinks – Dead End Street

The Kinks’ next single, “Waterloo Sunset”, was released in May 1967. The lyrics describe two lovers passing over a bridge, with a melancholic observer reflecting on the couple, the Thames and Waterloo station.[68][69] The song was rumoured to have been inspired by the romance between two British celebrities of the time, actors Terence Stamp and Julie Christie.[70][71][72] Ray Davies denied this in his autobiography, and claimed in a 2008 interview, “It was a fantasy about my sister going off with her boyfriend to a new world and they were going to emigrate and go to another country.

The Kinks – Waterloo Sunset (Official Audio)

The band added keyboardist John Gosling to their line-up in early 1970;[102] before this Nicky Hopkins, along with Ray, had done most of the session work on keyboards. In May 1970 Gosling debuted with the Kinks on “Lola”, an account of a confused romantic encounter with a transvestite, that became both a UK and a US Top 10 hit, helping return the Kinks to the public eye.[102][103] The lyrics originally contained the word “Coca-Cola”, and as a result the BBC refused to broadcast the song, considering it to be in violation of their policy against product placement.[102] Part of the song was hastily rerecorded by Ray Davies, with the offending line changed to the generic “cherry cola”, although in concert the Kinks still used “Coca-Cola”.[102] Recordings of both versions of “Lola” exist.

The Kinks – Lola – Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame Benefit.

Theatrical incarnation (1973–1976)

In 1973, Ray Davies dived headlong into the theatrical style, beginning with the rock opera Preservation, a sprawling chronicle of social revolution, and a more ambitious outgrowth of the earlier Village Green Preservation Society ethos.[110][111] In conjunction with the Preservation project, the Kinks’ line-up was expanded to include a horn section and female backup singers, essentially reconfiguring the group as a theatrical troupe.

Return to commercial success (1977–1985)

Following the termination of their contract with RCA, the Kinks signed with Arista Records in 1976. With the encouragement of Arista’s management they stripped back down to a five-man core group and were reborn as an arena rock band.[3] John Dalton left the band before finishing the sessions for the debut Arista album. Andy Pyle was brought in to complete the sessions and to play on the subsequent tour.[3] Sleepwalker, released in 1977, marked a return to success for the group as it peaked at number 21 on the Billboard chart.[6][127] After its release and the recording of the follow-up, Misfits, Andy Pyle and keyboardist John Gosling left the group to work together on a separate project.[128] In May 1978, Misfits, the Kinks’ second Arista album, was released. It included the US Top 40 hit “A Rock ‘n’ Roll Fantasy”,[129] which helped make the record another success for the band. The non-album single “Father Christmas” has remained a popular track. Driven by session drummer Henry Spinetti’s drumming and Dave Davies’ heavy guitar the song “Father Christmas” has become a classic seasonal favorite on mainstream radio.[130] For the following tour, the band recruited ex-Argent bassist Jim Rodford and ex–Pretty Things keyboardist Gordon Edwards.[129] Edwards was soon fired from The Kinks for failing to show up to recordings sessions, and the band recorded 1979’s Low Budget as a quartet, with Ray Davies handling keyboard duties. Keyboardist Ian Gibbons was recruited for the subsequent tour, and became a permanent member of the group. Despite the personnel changes, the popularity of the band’s records and live shows continued to grow.

The Kinks – Come Dancing

Decline in popularity and split (1986–1997)

In early 1986, the group signed with MCA Records in the United States and London Records in the UK.[9][144] Their first album for the new labels, Think Visual, released later that year, was a moderate success, peaking at number 81 on the Billboard albums chart.[6][9][147] Songs like the ballad “Lost and Found” and “Working at the Factory” concerned blue-collar life on an assembly line, while the title track was an attack on the very MTV video culture from which the band had profited earlier in the decade.[148] The Kinks followed Think Visual in 1987 with another live album, The Road, which was a mediocre commercial and critical performer.[6] In 1989, the Kinks released UK Jive, a commercial failure, making only a momentary entry into the album charts at number 122.[6] MCA Records ultimately dropped them, leaving the Kinks without a label deal for the first time in over a quarter of a century. Longtime keyboardist Ian Gibbons left the group and was replaced by Mark Haley.

Solo work and personal differences (1998–2017)

The band members subsequently focused on solo projects, and both Davies brothers released their own studio albums.[152] Talk of a Kinks reunion circulated (including an aborted studio reunion of the original band members in 1999), but neither Ray nor Dave Davies showed much interest in playing together again.[150] Meanwhile, former members John Gosling, John Dalton and Mick Avory had regrouped in 1994 and started performing on the oldies circuit along with guitar-player/singer Dave Clarke as the Kast Off Kinks.

Ray Davies released the solo album Storyteller, a companion piece to X-Ray, in 1998. Originally written two years earlier as a cabaret-style show, it celebrated his old band and his estranged brother.[156] Seeing the programming possibilities in his music/dialogue/reminiscence format, the American music television network VH1 launched a series of similar projects featuring established rock artists titled VH1 Storytellers.[156] Dave Davies spoke favourably of a Kinks reunion in early 2003, and as the 40th anniversary of the group’s breakthrough neared, both the Davies brothers expressed interest in working together again.[157] However, hopes for a reunion were dashed in June 2004 when Dave suffered a stroke while exiting an elevator, temporarily impairing his ability to speak and play guitar.[73] Following Dave’s recovery, the Kinks were inducted into the UK Music Hall of Fame in November 2005, with all four of the original band members in attendance. The induction helped fuel sales for the group; in August 2007, a re-entry of The Ultimate Collection, a compilation of material spanning the band’s career, reached number 32 on the UK Top 100 album chart and number one on the UK Indie album chart.

Reunion (2018–present)

On 20 January 2018, long-time bassist Jim Rodford died at the age of 76.[168] In June 2018, the Davies brothers confirmed that they were working on a new The Kinks’ studio album with Avory.[169] Ray Davies was inspired to reform the band by a recent tour by The Rolling Stones, and had accumulated a backlog of songs he wanted to record with the band.

In July 2019, keyboardist Ian Gibbons died after a battle with cancer.[171] During that same month, the band said they are working on new music, but eventual release seem more probable for 2020.[172] In a November 2019 interview, Dave Davies said of the new album’s progress, “Well, me and Ray are still listening to our archive of Kinks stuff that we haven’t used and trying to write new tracks. It’s still a work in progress. We’re trying to get stuff together. I’d like to get an album together, some of these not lost ideas but songs that have been shelved. We’d see what the songs needed, maybe some tightening up or the addition of other musicians. So there’s a lot to do.”[173] [174] Also in November 2019, Ray Davies gave an update on the new album. He hopes to convince Mick Avory to rejoin and is reportedly in contact with John Dalton.

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