Feb. 3: The Kinks lead guitarist, Dave Davies, is 64 today.

Did you know?

Dave Davies developed the signature distorted power chord riff on The Kinks' first hit, "You Really Got Me" by slitting the speaker cone on his Elpico amplifier, which he then ran through a larger Vox as a "pre-amp."

This sound was one of the first mainstream appearances of guitar distortion, and it went on to influence many guitarist in the future, especially during the Punk rock period.
In 2003, Davies was ranked 88th in Rolling Stone magazine list of the "100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time"


In the beginning...

Dave Davies was born in London, England, the last of eight children, including six older sisters and an older brother and Kinks bandmate Ray Davies. As children, the Davies brothers were immersed in a world of different musical styles, from the music-hall of their parents' generation, to the jazz and early rock n' roll of their older sisters.

Davies grew up playing skiffle, but soon bought an electric guitar and started experimenting with rock. The Davies brothers and friend Pete Quaife jammed together in the front room of their house - where the Davies' parents would sing and play piano together.

The front room and the parties their parents threw influenced The Kinks' musical style. Dave and Ray worked on the famous two-note riff of their 1964 hit, "You Really Got Me," on the piano in the front room.

Dave Davies founded The Kinks with Pete Quaife in 1963. His brother Ray, who became the best-known member and de-facto leader of the band, joined soon after at his mother's insistence. The drummer was Ray's friend Mick Avory.

Dave Davies had a turbulent relationship with Avory, one of the reasons behind Mick's departure from the band in the mid 1980s, although the two had been roommates together in the mid 1960s.

Ray and Dave Davies remained the only two steady members of the band, There were a number of different bass players and keyboardists. Dave played a largely subordinate role to his brother, often staying behind the scenes. He'd make occasional contributions on Kinks records as lead vocalist and songwriter, such as "Death of a Clown" and "Strangers."

The Kinks released three albums and several EPs in the next two years. "You Really Got Me" was the group's third released single, after two unsuccessful ones that failed to chart. The single was a massive hit, topping the charts in the U.K. and reaching #7 in the U.S.

Some legendary on-stage fights erupted during this time as well. The most notorious incident was at The Capitol Theatre, Cardiff, Wales in May 1965, involving drummer Mick Avory and Dave Davies. The fight broke out during the second number of the set, "Beautiful Delilah." It culminated with Davies insulting Avory and kicking over his drum set after finishing the first song, "You Really Got Me." Avory responded by knocking down Davies with his Hi-Hat stand, rendering him unconscious. He then fled from the scene, and Davies was taken to Cardiff Royal Infirmary, where he received 16 stitches to the head.

Avory later claimed that it was part of a new act in which the band members would hurl their instruments at each other.

During the late 1960s the group steadily evolved, as Ray's songwriting skills developed and he began to lead the group in a whole new direction. The group abandoned  adopted a more nostalgic, reflective style of music, as showcased on songs like "Autumn Almanac" and "Waterloo Sunset," as well as their albums, such as Something Else by The Kinks and The Village Green Preservation Society.

In July 1967, Davies released his first solo single, credited entirely under his name, (although co-written by his brother) entitled "Death of a Clown." Although credited to Davies, it was technically a Kinks recording, as his backing band was The Kinks.

Upon its release, "Death of a Clown" rose to number three on the UK Singles Chart. Wanting to profit off of the new buzz suddenly surrounding Davies, a solo LP was slated for release some time in 1968 or 1969. The follow-up single, "Susannah's Still Alive," was released in November 1967; however, it only reached #20 on the Melody Maker chart and the solo album release was held back.

The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society and Arthur were released in 1968 and 1969, respectively. Although they received unanimous acclaim, Village Green failed to chart internationally, and Arthur flopped as well.

After Arthur, The Kinks made a comeback with their hit single "Lola" and the accompanying concept album Lola versus Powerman and the Moneygoround, Part One in 1970. Dave recorded two songs of his own for this LP, the acoustic "Strangers" and the hard-rocking "Rats." The rootsy country-rock, and Americana themed Muswell Hillbillies was released in late 1971, and was well-received with critics, but failed to sell.

This pattern of critical acclaim with less than spectacular commercial success continued with the next albums Preservation (Parts One and Two), The Kinks Present A Soap Opera and Schoolboys in Disgrace.

Davies made several attempts at solo albums throughout the '70s, but he never felt enough enthusiasm or interest to see the projects through. He would often act as the producer and engineer at The Kinks' main studio, Konk, in his spare time, producing albums for others.

The Kinks left RCA records in 1977, switching to Arista, and reverted to a five-piece rock group again. Their debut LP for Arista was entitled Sleepwalker, and was a commercial and critical comeback for the group. It was the first album in what critics usually call the "arena rock" phase of the group.

The Kinks reached their commercial peak in the early 1980s. The music video for their early '80s single "Come Dancing" helped hoist the record to #11 on the U.K. charts, and #6 in the U.S - their biggest hit since "Tired of Waiting for You" in 1965.

The Kinks' popularity faltered in 1985, and soon their records ceased to chart altogether. Mick Avory left the band after The Kinks' last album for Arista, Word of Mouth, mainly due to the growing animosity between him and Dave Davies. Ray Davies said that Avory was his best friend in the band and he unwillingly had to choose sides.

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The Singles Collection

The group switched to MCA records in late 1985, and began work on their next album, Think Visual. The record was released in 1986, but only reached #81 on the Billboard charts.

The group recorded several more records for MCA, their last studio effort being 1989's UK Jive. UK Jive was received slightly better than Think Visual, but it failed to enter into the Top 100. Dave Davies contributed the song "Dear Margaret" to the record. The group left MCA and struggled to find a record label that would accept them.

All four original members were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990, but this failed to revive their career.
Eventually The Kinks signed with  Columbia records, who released their final studio album together, Phobia, in April 1993. Columbia dropped the group in 1994, forcing them to retreat back to their old Konk Records. The group released To The Bone on the small independent Grapevine records in 1994. The Kinks officially disbanded in 1996.

Dave Davies' solo career was not revived until 1980, with the release of Dave Davies (AFL1-3603), which featured Davies performing all the instruments by himself. The album was named after its own serial number. AFLI-3603 peaked at #42 on the Billboard 200. He went on to release Glamour in 1981, which charted at #152. Davies brought in a back-up band to play with him on this record.  Chosen People was released in 1983, but failed to crack the Billboard 200.

Davies released his first true solo studio album in twenty years, Bug, in 2002. On June 30, 2004, Davies suffered a stroke at Broadcasting House, where he had been promoting Bug. As he exited an elevator, the right hand side of his body seized up and he couldn't move my arm or leg and couldn't speak. By 2006, Davies had recovered enough to be able to walk, talk and play guitar.

Fractured Mindz followed in January 2007, his first album of all new material in nearly five years. It was also his first new studio effort since his stroke.