The Kinks (pt 2) – Where Have All the Good Times Gone?

‘Ray and Dave were very volatile,’ Pete Quaife, who died in 2010, once said. ‘They could start a fight over absolutely nothing.’

I hope eventually to be sufficiently capable of expressing people’s everyday moods, thoughts, and emotions in music.” Ray Davies to NME in 1964.

Interview with Ray Davies in The Guardian: Dave has described your brotherly relationship as “like Cain and Abel.” Ray – It’s more like Satan and Jesus. 

For all you hear about Dave and Ray fighting, it seems less to have been physical and more psychological. Sibling rivalry. Control. You know how you can push your sibling’s buttons when you want? Like that.

One time late in their career, Ray was editing out Dave’s guitar parts. “I can do what I like,” said Ray. “I’m a genius.” Dave: “You’re not a genius. You’re a fucking arsehole.” Dave goes on to enlighten thusly: “We’re just very, very different people. He’d probably say ‘I love Dave’ but I reserve the right to hate him.”

In early 1965, The Kinks went off on a tour of Australia and New Zealand, among other countries. This was fortuitous as their sister Rosie along with her son and husband Arthur had emigrated to Adelaide in 1963. Arthur was much of the inspiration for the same-named album that I posted about a while back. (Rosie inspired several of their songs.)

The Kinks started to become known for their partying and inter-band fighting. (If you want to read about a heavy-duty partying rock ‘n roller, look no further than Dave Davies’ autobiography Kink. There was no drink or drug he wouldn’t take to excess, no woman (or man) he wouldn’t have sex with. A world-class hotel room smasher, by his own admission, he was completely out of control for a number of years. This would eventually catch up with him.)

Dave and Mick Avory didn’t always get along, to say the least. Dave says that Mick was always non-committal, not knowing how to behave, what with Ray and Dave making all the decisions. (Mick believes he was supposed to be the buffer between the brothers. “Well, they used me in that sense. Even if it wasn’t intended in the first place, it worked out that way.”)

One encounter in Cardiff, in particular, is worth quoting verbatim from Dave’s book (this after a “punch-up” the night before):

“Our feelings were running very high as we took to the stage. A couple of songs into the show I looked at Mick and shouted at him, calling him a useless cunt. I said his drumming was shit and that they’d sound better if he played them with his cock. I sneered at him and kicked his drums all over the stage.”

With hindsight, it probably would have been a lot better if Dave had just said, “Hey, man. Can you pick up the beat a little?” Because by all accounts, Avory reportedly hit him over the head with either a) a cymbal or b) his hi-hat stand. (Avory later said it was actually a drum foot pedal and admitted he was glad it wasn’t a cymbal as Dave might well have been decapitated. Which, frankly, would have put a big damper on the show.)

Dave was bleeding pretty badly and Avory ran out thinking he’d killed his bandmate. Not only ran out but actually jumped on a train back to London. Fortunately, after a half-dozen stitches in his head, Dave was back in action. The lads made up and in true stiff upper lip fashion, were back on the road again in no time.

The Kinks started a long-anticipated tour of the US in mid-1965. By this time they’d released a second album and their song, “Tired of Waiting For You,” had been a hit earlier in the year:

Spotify link

In true Kinks self-sabotaging fashion, the boys managed to fuck up their entry into the lucrative American market. The band wound up getting, well, banned by the union known as the American Federation of Musicians. (Other Brit bands had warned them of union problems in America.)

In his book, Dave attributes this to management problems. But Ray clears this up and the by-now generally accepted reason is that in addition to their rowdy behavior, there was a bit of a dust-up at DJ Dick Clark’s TV show Where the Action Is. Another story worth quoting verbatim:

“Some guy who said he worked for the TV company walked up and accused us of being late,” Ray wrote in his autobiography X-Ray. “Then he started making anti-British comments. Things like ‘Just because the Beatles did it, every mop-topped, spotty-faced limey juvenile thinks he can come over here and make a career for himself. You’re just a bunch of Commie wimps.

“When the Russians take over Britain,” this genius continues, “don’t expect us to come over and save you this time. The Kinks, huh? Well, once I file my report on you guys, you’ll never work in the U.S.A. again. You’re gonna find out just how powerful America is, you limey bastard!’” (Note – Was this actually Donald Trump one wonders?)

The rest, Ray says, is a blur. However, he does recall being pushed and swinging a punch and being punched back. (And all this time you thought the Stones were the bad boys.)

In July of 1965, the Kinks released a song called “See My Friends,” that was fairly popular in the UK but absolutely tanked in the US. In fact, I never even heard of it till years later. However, it was a fairly influential song with British musicians due to its Indian influences. (The band had done a stopover in Bombay/Mumbai and Ray had heard fishermen chanting.)

This song predates the Beatles’ sitar-flavored “Norwegian Wood” by several months and the Fab Four by all accounts were quite taken with it. (Ironically, Ray says that Lennon practically accused the Kinks of ripping the Beatles sound off and said some not-so-kind things to him at shows. So, friends they were not.)

So while The Beatles in general and Harrison, in particular, get a lot of credit for incorporating Eastern sounds, let us give credit where credit is due:

Spotify link

One of the side effects – or even direct effects – of the Kinks being banned from the US for four years (!) is that they were not able to reap the benefits that bands like the Stones and later, Cream, etc. did. I can say that in the US while they were not entirely forgotten, they did slip into a bizarre situation wherein they became almost a cult band.

But of course, they continued touring the rest of the world and recording. These years were still very productive for the band as a whole. (Ray was the primary songwriter but has repeatedly given the band much credit for its overall sound. Although that said, Dave has been known to say ‘Why can’t he just admit he couldn’t do it without me?’ Ray later tried to claim credit for the ‘You Really Got Me’  guitar sound.’ Dave took to Facebook and called Ray a liar. So it goes.)

BTW, If you want a great compilation from this time period, look no further than The Kink Kronikles. I used to listen to this fucking thing relentlessly. If you don’t dig this album (#232 on Rolling Stone’s greatest albums of all time), you will probably never “get” the Kinks.

Wikipedia summarizes the shift in the band’s tone and Davies songwriting quite well I think: “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 on which session musician Nicky Hopkins* made his first appearance with the group on keyboards.

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 flavor.”

This song grew out of Ray’s encounter with some upper-class twit who wanted him to go golfing. (Ray figured the guy wanted him to carry his clubs.) You cannot read a book on British rock without class coming up and often being used almost insultingly.  I now know, for instance, that Mick Jagger is “lower middle class” but I don’t understand why it matters. Naively I figured rockers would be cool enough to escape the British class thing.

Before this song, “everything came from boy-girl teenage angst,” says Ray. ‘Well Respected Man’, that’s a watershed because I started singing about other people. Something is turning, evolving:”

Spotify link

In 1966, prior to the release of the Kink Kontroversy album, Ray had an emotional and physical breakdown. “I was a zombie,” says Davies. “I’d been on the go all the time from when we first made it till then, and I was completely out of my mind. I don’t know what happened to me. I’d run into the West End with my money stuffed in my socks; I’d tried to punch my press agent; I was chased down Denmark Street by the police, hustled into a taxi by a psychiatrist and driven off somewhere.”

According to an article in the Daily Mail, “Davies’ physician prescribed plenty of rest, supplemented by a salad diet and the suggestion, never taken up, that he should join a golf club. A musical diet of Frank Sinatra, Bach, Bob Dylan and classical guitar also helped restore his momentum.” Ray advised that “it sort of cleaned my mind out and started fresh ideas.”

While Kink Kontroversy contains, among other songs, the great “Where Have All the Good Times Gone,”** it would be dereliction of duty for me not to post one of the Kinks best songs of this or any era, “Sunny Afternoon.”

Released in June of 1966 as Ray’s reaction to the heavy progressive British tax, it went Number One several places worldwide. And while it was a hit in the US, the highest it went was number 14 because we are sometimes incredibly stupid over here. As she had been doing from the early days, Ray’s then-wife Rasa sang background harmonies.

The tax man’s taken all my dough
And left me in my stately home
Lazing on a sunny afternoon

And I can’t sail my yacht
He’s taken everything I got
All I’ve got’s this sunny afternoon

Spotify link

Around this time, Pete Quaife – who frequently traveled apart from the band – got into a bad car accident with their equipment roadie. He spent a period of reflective time in the hospital, wondering what he was doing in this volatile band that he couldn’t even stand to spend road time with. His days in the band would be numbered.

Next post – The Kinks record some of their best stuff and return to a significantly changed America. And have their greatest touring successes. 

*Hopkins went on to play with many others most notably, Jeff Beck and the Stones.

**Van Halen covered both “You Really Got Me” and “Where Have All the Good Times Gone.” When asked if he was a big Kinks fan, Eddie Van Halen said something like, not really. The Kinks weren’t very complimentary and there seems to be some weird competition between the bands.

Sources: You Really Got Me: The Story of the Kinks, Nick Hasted; Kink, Dave Davies; The Komplete Story of the Kinks, Uncut Magazine; Wikipedia, various and sundry websites.

34 thoughts on “The Kinks (pt 2) – Where Have All the Good Times Gone?

  1. Alas, you can never “escape the British class thing”

    Great entry and glad I spotted this one!

    I’ve read of the Kinks vs Beatles thing but then I think a lot of it was from Ray too, he strikes me as a the kinda guy who could get into a feud with his own shadow. He reviewed Revolver for the press, too, and didn’t do so favourably- http://www.kindakinks.net/misc/articles/beatles.html – so I doubt he ever went out of his way to make friends with anyone either.

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    1. Yeah, Ray didn’t make a lot of friends. Nor, in general, did the band. I think they felt disrespected from the very beginning. As to the Beatles, I get the feeling that John had been accusatory towards him prior to the Revolver review. (Which I hadn’t read, so thanks.) The guys make it clear in the book it’s ‘us against the world’ but it appears that includes being against other bands. Ray’s only obvious music friend is Pete Townshend. Side story – the Stones called Ray when they were resurging in the 70’s. They wanted him to join their bill. He refused and was still pissed off that they had somehow won Best New Artist two years in a row. Ten years later! And when Linda McCartney (not Paul) called to see if he wanted to collaborate in the late ’80’s, he chuckled. So Paul worked with Elvis Costello.

      As to the class thing, Ray said this “I’m in Disgrace” album was secondary modern while “The Wall” was public school. And so you see, every rock book I read goes into this class thing without explaining it. Feel free to add a couple paragraphs explaining any of this. Or if there’s an article I should read somewhere, post it. I sort of get it. But not entirely. It seems to really fuck things up. Am I wrong?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Blimey, I’ll see if I can collect my thoughts sufficiently on it but I can totally see Ray’s point but then there’s also a North and South element to it all too… the working class vs the Oxbridge educated class of Floyd etc.
        I shall come back to this one, sir.

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        1. Please do. If there’s a book I should read, feel free to recommend that. Like I said, I kinda get it but not entirely. We certainly have middle-class, etc. here in the States. And clearly, there are elites here. But the guy who shines my shoes today could start a company and be my boss tomorrow. And we all love that story over here. Because it means any of us can be anything whether you went to Harvard, a state school or dropped out (Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs.)

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        2. Oh I don’t think that’s not the case here. Certainly not now but then back in post-war Britain the last vestiges of the old class system (which was what so many were actually fighting to change during WW2) were still apparent to a larger extent.
          I think to some degree it comes down to subject matter too. A lot of those bands from, say, less-fortunate areas wrote more about social issues and universal truths whereas Waters seemed more interested in writing about more personal / internal matters.
          But both Davies and Waters are such…. what’s the word…. forceful personalities that they probably represent extremes (or like to believe they do).
          I’ll see what I can find

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        3. Interesting. I would love to read that ‘Mods, Rockers’ book but it’s 50 bucks! I need to incorporate, get tax write-offs. So one of the arguments that was made is that the rockers came from the working class. That I’ve heard before and it’s no surprise if you see guys like, say, Ozzy. But I guess what surprised me is how they equate themselves status-wise to American blacks of that era. And I wonder why, if all these guys come from the same pool, they spend so much time disparaging each other? Aren’t they just from different sides of the wrong side of the tracks?

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  2. Quick note – I can see both and they seem to be on target. I’ll read up on those. I read about so many Brit bands that this has been not only a consistent theme but also highly puzzling. My modus operandi is that i drive myself crazy until I can understand something. These might help. Thanks.

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  3. Man are you getting into this one. The Kinks are without a doubt one of the best stories going. You’re killing it Doc! So much to work with (I’d be overwhelmed). Then I listen to the cuts you included and come back to why I dig these guys. The Music!

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  4. Here’s a good piece of info, not to mention song. The Kinks final album ‘Phobia’ came out in 1993. One song is called ‘Hatred (A Duet.) I hadn’t heard it before so I thought I’d give it a spin. Keep in mind Dave and Ray’s relationship, give it a listen when you have a chance. And take a look at these lyrics. I think there’s a certain amount of truth/tongue in cheek here. Or maybe it’s just therapy.

    Yeah, hatred
    Your attitude is downright rude
    Your jokes appall me, they’re so crude
    Why don’t you just drop dead and don’t recover
    I’m the mirror to your mood
    You hate me and I hate you
    So at least we understand each other
    Hatred, hatred is the only thing that lasts, what is it?
    Hatred, hatred

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I told you I listen to ‘Sleepwalker’ the other day. Same sort of deal with the song ‘Brother’ but the opposite of the hate thing. Interesting that whole class thing you and Tony were commenting on blows my mind.

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    1. Yeah, the class thing in Britain comes up in every Brit bio I read. Now, don’t get me wrong. It’s not like they’re totally consumed by it. But a guy in a band will say, “Well, he’s from such-and-such” a place as if that explains something. Or as I mentioned, Ray mentioned that his album was “secondary modern” (a type of school there) and Pink Floyd’s was “public school.” I’m not the expert here but I believe that the first one is the working class and the other is the “ruling class.” Tony also mentioned North and South. The Beatles were, of course, from the North, Liverpool. When they were starting out, they would do ok with the ladies up there. But when they got to London and opened their mouths, no luck with the chicks. And the London bands couldn’t comprehend how a Northern band could be any good. I have no first-hand knowledge of this, just from what I’ve read.

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        1. I grew up in probably a lower middle class family. I’m pretty proud to say that after all these years I’ve worked my way up to the slightly upper side of lower middle class. I alternate between the “wine and cheese” set and the “cheap beer and pretzel” set with ease. 😂

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        2. Ok. We’ll play Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, Rush and Band songs to celebrate your sesquicentennial. But I draw the line at Nickelback. You guys can keep them.

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        3. The ‘Hip’ are the real deal and good people. An original bar band. Great front man and they rock hard. Great lyricist. I’ll check it out thanks. You know me and that “Hall of Fame” thing. I leave that to the Doc to straighten out.

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        4. I checked her choices. Not familiar with the ‘Rheostatics’ but the others yes. Nice that she gave a nod. The Canadian thing is on my radar while I’m changing things up on CB. Have already formed an idea. Lots of good music that doesn’t get the mass consumption. I’m over to ME to check out the ‘Kinks’.

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    1. One of my very favorite Kinks songs. I find it very uplifting and hopeful. I actually get to this song (and that version) in an upcoming post. I did not know this album existed till I started researching this series. It makes sense that Bruce would be a Kinks fan. I saw an interview with Ray where he said that he and Bruce sat and talked for hours about songwriting. So freakin’ awesome.

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      1. That was a good one by Jersey. I always thought they were kindred spirits. As I look at the musical journey I’m taking with CB, Bruce and the Kinks (Ray) are constant through the years (Townshend and a couple others also). Back in the day Springsteen always gave a nod to Davies. A lot in common. Don’t forget Bruce dealt with his own class thing when he was younger. This is to your other comment above. I don’t know Doc but this Kinks thing is hitting on a lot of cylinders. Could be some of your best work yet. For CB anyway.

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  6. CB, excellent point about Bruce. I hadn’t even thought to make that connection. Bruce is a working class guy for sure. He said that “We gotta get out of this place” was a template for much of his stuff. I wonder if he related to stuff like “Dead End Street.”

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    1. One of the reason i love the guy. He wears that stuff proudly. The Kinks too. I always think it’s cool when Musicians I really like hook up. It happens a lot for me. Same vibe. Doc, these guys are good and they rock n roll.

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