Guide to British Music of the 1960s


The Kinks

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Ray Davies - guitar, vocals, Dave Davies - guitar, vocals, Pete Quaife - bass, Mick Avory - drums

The Kinks started life in early 1964 having most recently been known as the Ravens. Shel Talmy had become the manager and negotiated a record deal with Pye Records. After a couple of unsuccessful singles, the band hit number one with their third release, the classic You Really Got Me. The two note riff with the distorted guitar sound was achieved by slashing the cone of the speaker. This became the blueprint for many other releases including the Who's debut I Can't Explain. Contrary to popular rumour, Jimmy Page did not play on You Really Got Me. The first LP Kinks followed. Alongside the hit single and the Ray Davies classic Stop Your Sobbing nine of the 14 tracks were cover versions of R&B standards.

The band also hit number one with the follow-up single Tired of Waiting For You. This had been recorded at the time of the first LP but was held back as it was thought to be an ideal single. It did appear on the second LP release Kinda Kinks.

The Kinks arrived for their first US tour in June 1965. They caused chaos through their behaviour and, as a result, they were blacklisted by the American Federation of Musicians. They did not return to the US until 1969. Dave and Mick had a particularly difficult relationship that resulted in on-stage fights on more than one occasion, the most notable being at the Capitol Theatre in Cardiff in May 1965 when Dave kicked over Mick's drum kit and Mick responded by hitting Dave over the head with a cymbal.

With the first single of 1966, Ray Davies turned to the exciting London fashion scene and made fun of it through Dedicated Follower of Fashion. Carnaby Street was thriving, new boutiques were opening on a regular basis and fashions changed regularly. Davies' lyrics satirised this through the "dedicated follower" being "as fickle as can be." The single made the top five in the UK despite Dave Davies claiming he hated it. Nevertheless, it has remained one of the most enduring of the Kinks' singles.

By now Ray Davies was not only gaining adulation as a great songwriter but many of his tracks were about English life. This was very evident from the 1966 LP Face to Face onwards. The single Dead End Street and its b-side Big Black Smoke also emphasised this.

Although Ray Davies wrote the majority of the original material and is generally regarded as one of England's best songwriters, brother Dave would also contribute. Some of his tracks were released under his name although the single Death of a Clown would feature on 1967's Something Else by the Kinks. The album also included Jam favourite David Watts and Ray's masterpiece Waterloo Sunset.

The Kinks are the Village Green Preservation Society from November 1968 again emphasised the "Englishness" of Davies' lyrics.

Pete Quaife left the band prior to the recording of Arthur (Or The Decline and Fall of the British Empire).

Original bass player Pete Quaife died from a kidney disease on 23 June 2010.

To be completed

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