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The lineup with which they began their recording career was Dave Davies (lead guitar, vocals, songwriting); his brother Ray Davies (primary songwriter, primary vocalist, rhythm guitar); Pete Quaife (bass guitar, vocals); and Mick Avory (drums). The group was briefly called The Ravens until, at their manager Larry Page of Page One Records' urging, they changed their name to The Kinks just before their first recording. The name is thought to refer to the style of "kinky" boots and clothing then in fashion, partly thanks to the Avengers television series. The Davies brothers had a tempestous relationship, and their frequent quarrels often degenerated into fist-fights, sometimes taking place onstage.
The band never gained the same degree of popularity as their peers, in part because legal problems prevented them from touring in America throughout most of the late 1960s, but also due to Davies' disdain for popular muscial trends in his songwriting. Nevertheless, the Kinks are one of the most influential British Invasion acts, and maintain a rabidly loyal fan base. Their early incarnation as rebellious three-chord rockers provided a template for punk, and their later albums (particularly The Village Green Preservation Society) are frequently cited by underground musicians and music fans as an apogee of pop songwriting. Ray Davies' intensely British outlook and his penchant for nationalist nostalgia was consciously imititated by 90s Britpop bands such as Pulp or Blur. He is cited as one of the best and most creative songwriters and musicians of the 20th century among Pete Townsend and Sir Paul McCartney. 
First years (1964-1971)
Throughout their long career, the core of the Kinks remained brothers Ray (b. 21 June 1944) and Dave Davies (b. 3 February 1947), who were born and raised in Muswell Hill, London. In their teens, the brothers began playing skiffle and rock & roll. Soon, the brothers recruited a schoolmate of Ray's, Peter Quaife, to play with them; like the Davies brothers, Quaife played guitar, but he switched to bass. By the summer of 1963, the group had decided to call itself the Ravens and had recruited a new drummer, Mickey Willet . Eventually, their demo tape reached Shel Talmy, an American record producer who was under contract to Pye Records. Talmy helped the band land a contract with Pye in 1964. Before signing to the label, the Ravens replaced drummer Willet with Mick Avory, who became drummer for the band in the next 20 years.
The Ravens recorded their debut single, a cover of Little Richard's "Long Tall Sally," in January 1964. Before the single was released, the group changed their name to the Kinks. "Long Tall Sally" was released in February 1964, but it failed to chart, as did their second single, "You Still Want Me". The band's third single, "You Really Got Me", was much better received and shot the charts. Not only was the final version the blueprint for the Kinks' early sound, but scores of groups used the heavy, power chords as a foundation. "You Really Got Me" reached number one within a month of its release; released on Reprise in the U.S., the single climbed into the Top Ten. "All Day and All of the Night," the group's fourth single, was released late in 1964 and it rose all the way to number two; in America, it hit number seven. During this time, the band also produced two full-length albums and several EPs.
Not only was the group recording at a breakneck pace, they were touring relentlessly, as well, which caused much tension within the band. At the conclusion of their summer 1965 American tour, the Kinks were banned from re-entering the United States by the American Federation of Musicians Union, for unspecified reasons. For four years, the Kinks were prohibited from returning to the U.S., which not only meant that the group was deprived of the world's largest music market, but that they were effectively cut off from the musical and social upheavals of the late 60s. Consequently, Davies' songs grew more introspective, relying more on English influences such as music hall and English folk, than the rest of his British contemporaries. At this time, Davies also became embroiled in bitter legal disputes with the band's management and with his music publishing company that would drag on through the rest of the decade.
The band's stylistic changes were first evident in late 1965, with the appearance of "A Well Respected Man", "Dedicated Follower of Fashion", and the album The Kinks Kontroversy. These demonstrated the progression in Davies' songwriting from hard driving rock numbers towards social commentary, observation, and idiosyncratic character study, all with an increasingly English flavor. The single "Sunny Afternoon" was one of Davies' wry social satires and the song was the biggest hit of the summer of 1966 in the U.K., reaching number one. Prior to its release, Davies suffered a nervous and physical breakdown from the pressures of touring, writing, and ongoing legal squabbles, and spent several months recuperating and writing new songs. Quaife was also forced to leave the band for much of 1966 after an automobile accident, returning by the end of the year.
"Sunny Afternoon" was a teaser for the band's great leap forward, Face to Face. One of the first Concept Albums , Face to Face displayed Davies' growing skill at crafting gentle yet cutting narrative songs about everyday life and people. The great social comment single "Dead End Street" was released at the time of Face to Face, and became another big U.K. hit. In May 1967, they returned with "Waterloo Sunset," a striking ballad that reached number two in the U.K. in the spring of 1967. Released in the fall of 1967, the album Something Else By The Kinks continued the musical progressions of Face to Face. Dave Davies also scored major chart success with "Death of a Clown", cowritten with Ray and recorded by the Kinks, but released as a Davies solo single.
Despite the Kinks' tremendous musical growth, their chart performance was beginning to stagnate as the tastes of the pop world began to change. Following the lackluster performance of Something Else, the Kinks rushed out a new single, "Autumn Almanac," which became another big U.K. hit for the band. But "Wonderboy", released in the spring of 1968, was the band's first single not to crack the Top Ten. Throughout 1968, Davies doggedly continued to pursue his deeply personal, nostalgic songwriting style, and at the same time rebelling against the heavy demands placed on him to keep producing commercial hit singles. The Kinks recovered somewhat with the moving "Days," a modest hit in the summer of 1968, but the band's commercial decline was evident by the failure of The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society. Released in the late fall of 1968, this concept album was the culmination of Davies' nostalgic tendencies. A brilliant collection of thematically-related vignettes assembled from songs written and recorded over the previous two years, the album lacked a commercial single and was sorely out of touch with the social and psychedelic music popular at the time. While commercially unsuccessful, it was well-received by the new underground rock press, particularly in the U.S., where the Kinks' status as a cult band began to grow.
Peter Quaife soon grew tired of the band's lack of success, and left the band in March 1969, being replaced by John Dalton . Dalton had temporarily replaced Quaife in 1966, and was now brought back permanently. In early 1969, the American ban upon the Kinks was lifted, leaving the band free to tour the U.S. for the first time in four years. Before they began the tour, the Kinks released Arthur (Or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire). Like its two predecessors, Arthur contained distinctly British lyrical and musical themes, but it was a modest success. As they were recording the follow-up to Arthur, the Kinks expanded their lineup to include keyboardist John Gosling. The first appearance of Gosling on a Kinks record was "Lola." Featuring a harder rock foundation than their last few singles, "Lola" was a Top Ten hit in both the U.K. and the U.S. Released in the fall of 1970, Lola versus Powerman and the Moneygoround, Part One was their most successful record since the mid-'60s in both the U.S. and U.K., helping the band become concert favorites in the U.S.
The band's contract with Reprise expired in early 1971, leaving the Kinks free to pursue a new record contract. By the end of 1971, the Kinks had secured a five-album deal with RCA Records, which brought them a million dollar advance. Released in late 1971, Muswell Hillbillies, the group's first album for RCA, marked a return to the nostalgia of the Kinks' late-'60s albums, only with more pronounced country and music hall influences. The album failed to be the commercial blockbuster RCA had hoped for. A few months after the release of Muswell Hillbillies, Reprise released a double-album compilation called The Kink Kronikles, which outsold their RCA debut. Everybody's in Showbiz (1973), a double record set consisting of one album of studio tracks and another of live material, was a disappointment in the U.K., although the album was more successful in the U.S.
Failure of the rock operas (1972-1976) and return at the charts (1977-1984)
Inspired by fellow modders the Who in 1973, Ray Davies composed a full-blown theatrical rock opera called Preservation. When the first installment of the opera finally appeared in late 1973, it was harshly criticized and given a cold reception from the public. Act 2 appeared in the summer of 1974; the sequel received worse treatment than its predecessor. Davies began another musical, Starmaker , for the BBC; the project eventually metamorphosed into Soap Opera, which was released in the spring of 1975. Despite poor reviews, Soap Opera was a more commercially successful record than its predecessor. In 1976, the Kinks recorded Davies' third straight rock opera, Schoolboys in Disgrace, which rocked harder than any album they released on RCA. In 1976, the Kinks left their record company RCA and signed with Arista Records. On Arista, the band refashioned themselves as a hard rock band and bounced back to the charts. Bassist John Dalton left the group near the completion of their debut Arista album; he was replaced by Andy Pyle.Sleepwalker, the Kinks' first album for Arista, became a major hit in the U.S. As the band was completing the follow-up to Sleepwalker, Pyle left the group and was replaced by the returning Dalton. Misfits, the band's second Arista album, was also a U.S. success. After a British tour, Dalton left the band again, along with keyboardist John Gosling; bassist Jim Rodford and keyboardist Gordon Edwards filled the vacancies. Soon, the band was playing arenas in the United States. Even though punk rockers like the Jam and the Pretenders were covering Kinks songs in the late 70s, the group was becoming more commercial with each release, culminating in the heavy rock of Low Budget 1979, which became the group's biggest American success, peaking at number 11. The Kinks' next album, Give the People What They Want, appeared in late 1981; the record peaked at number 15 and went gold. For most of 1982, the band was on tour. In spring of 1983, "Come Dancing" became the group's biggest American hit since "Tired of Waiting for You," thanks to the video's repeated exposure on MTV; in the U.S., the song peaked at number six, in the U.K. it climbed to number 12. State of Confusion followed the release of "Come Dancing", and it was another success, peaking at number 12 in the U.S.
For the remainder of 1983, Ray Davies worked on a film project, Return to Waterloo, which caused considerable tension between himself and his brother. Instead of breaking up, the Kinks reshuffled their lineup, but Mick Avory, the band's drummer for 20 years, tired with incessable punch-ups and break-ups quit the band and was replaced by Bob Henrit . Nevertheless Mick continued his work in the Konk studios. As Ray finished production on Return to Waterloo, he wrote the next Kinks album, Word of Mouth. Released in late 1984, the album was similar in tone to the last few Kinks records, but it was a commercial disappointment and began a period of decline for the band; they never ever released another record that entered the Top 40.
Disentegration and solo work (1985-present)
Word of Mouth was the last album they would record for Arista Records. In early 1986, the band signed with MCA Records in the U.S., London in the U.K. Think Visual, their first album for their new label, was released in late 1986. It was a mild success but there were no hit singles from the record. The following year, the Kinks released another live album, appropriately titled The Road, which spent a brief time on the charts. Two years later, the Kinks released their last studio record for MCA, UK Jive. During 1989, keyboardist Ian Gibbons left the band. The Kinks were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1990, but the induction did not help revive their career. In 1991, a compilation of their MCA records, Lost & Found (1986-1989), appeared, signalling that their contract with the label had expired. Later in the year, the band signed with Columbia Records and released an EP called Did Ya, which didn't chart. The Kinks' first album for Columbia, Phobia, arrived in 1993 to fair reviews but poor sales. By this time, only Ray and Dave Davies remained from the original lineup. In 1994, the band was dropped from Columbia Records, leaving the group to release the live To the Bone on an independent label in the U.K. and without a label in the U.S.
Despite a lack of commercial success, the band's profile began to rise in 1995. Several of the most popular Britpop bands of the decade, including Blur and Oasis cited the Kinks as a major influence on their careers. Particularly Blur frontman Damon Albarn several times stressed that the Kinks are one of the bands that made biggest impact on his songwriting. Ray Davies also took his toll and acted as a godfather, while promoting his autobiography, "X-Ray", which was published in early 1995 in the U.K. Dave Davies' "Kink", was published in the spring of 1996.
In the early 2000s, talk of a Kinks reunion has circulated, but for the past several years, both Ray and Dave Davies have been preoccupied with their own projects. One of Ray's projects included a symphony commissioned by the Norfolk and Norwich Festival. They have each released solo albums and toured extensively. Moreover, both Ray and Dave suffered injuries in 2004 which will postpone any Kinks reunion for some time. On January 4, Ray was shot in the leg while chasing thieves who had snatched the purse of his companion in the French Quarter of New Orleans, and on June 30 Dave suffered a stroke in an elevator at the London offices of the BBC, where he had been promoting his latest solo album, Bug, he was hospitalised and released on August 27.
- Ray Davies (1964-)
- Dave Davies (1964-)
- Mick Avory (1964-/1984/) - Mick didn't leave the band completely, because he continued to run the Konk Studios and even lent a hand as a producer.
- John Gosling (1968-1976)
- Gordon Edwards (1976-1984)
- Ian Gibbons (1984-1989)
- The Kinks (Released in the US as You Really Got Me), 2 October 1964
- Kinda Kinks - 5 March 1965
- The Kinks Kontroversy - 26 November 1965
- Face to Face - 28 October 1966
- Something Else By The Kinks - 15 September 1967
- The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society - 22 November 1968
- Arthur (Or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire) - 10 October 1969
- Lola versus Powerman and the Moneygoround, Part One - 27 November 1970
- Muswell Hillbillies - 24 November 1971
- Sleepwalker - February 1977
- Misfits - May 1978
- Low Budget - July 1979
- Give the People What They Want - August 1981
- State of Confusion - May 1983
- Word of Mouth - November 1984
- Think Visual - 1986
- Phobia - 18 March 1993
- Preservation Act 1, 1973
- Preservation Act 2, 1974
- Soap Opera, 1975
- Schoolboys in Disgrace, 1975
Lives and Compilations
- Live at Kelvin Hall, 12 Jan 1968 (recorded 1966)*
- The Kink Kronikles 1971
- Everybody's in Show-Biz, 1972*
- One for the Road, 1980*
- Live: The Road, 1987*
- UK Jive, 1989
- Lost & Found (1986-1989) (1991)
- To the Bone, 1994 (UK), 1996 (US)*
* - indicates partially live album
- February 1964 "Long Tall Sally"
- 1964 "You Still Want Me"
- August 1964 "You Really Got Me" #1 UK
- October 1964 "All Day And All Of The Night" #2 UK #7 US
- January 1965 "Tired Of Waiting For You" #1 UK
- March 1965 "Everybody's Gonna Be Happy" #17 UK
- May 1965 "Set Me Free" #9 UK
- August 1965 "See My Friend" #10 UK
- December 1965 "Till The End Of The Day" #8 UK
- March 1966 "Dedicated Follower Of Fashion" #4 UK
- June 1966 "Sunny Afternoon" #1 UK
- November 1966 "Dead End Street" #5 UK
- May 1967 "Waterloo Sunset" #2 UK
- October 1967 "Autumn Almanac" #3 UK
- April 1968 "Wonderboy" #36 UK
- July 1968 "Days" #12 UK
- April 1969 "Plastic Man" #31 UK
- January 1970 "Victoria" #33 UK
- July 1970 "Lola" #2 UK
- December 1970 "Apeman" #5 UK
- May 1972 "Supersonic Rocket Ship" #16 UK
- August 1983 "Come Dancing" #12 UK
- January 1997 The Days EP #35 UK
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