One half of the warring Davies brothers is about to play his first UK gig in 13 years.
Dave Davies of the Kinks returns to perform his first concert along with new material at the Barbican Hall on Friday April 11th. This year sees the group celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the revolutionary guitar sound that changed rock and roll and quite possibly the very first power chord.
You can hear echoes of his work in Led Zep, Van Halen, Green Day and the Arctic Monkeys, his distinctive guitar style had a major impact on music worldwide. As well as the infamous ongoing battle with his brother Ray, Dave has battled with serious health problems. He recently published Heal: a Guide to Meditation, which explains some of the practices that helped him recover from a severe stroke in 2004. His recovery was slow, taking him two years to rediscover how to walk and play guitar. He recently recorded a new album, I Will Be Me, which makes his return all the more remarkable.
We have recently seen and heard the success of the Rolling Stones’ 50 and Counting tour and groups like the Who and the Kinks are looking to celebrate and emulate The Stones’ success. I can confirm that the brothers in arms have been talking, working and writing together for the past six months. When I put it to Dave he answers rather ambiguously, “I am glad we are talking again and we may well be doing shows together, if we can get something new together in time. So maybe we will play together soon…maybe” grins the very charming and funny Davies. He surprisingly spotted my Manchester accent, “I love Manchester, I hang out a lot in Prestwich.” Dave now resides in New Jersey.
So 50 years ago this August the Kinks released their third single, You Really Got Me. Pressure was on to chart with original material and the group once again retired to the front room of their house in Muswell Hill in North London, to work on a potential hit record. They needed a hit to get another contract.
Mr. Davies explains. “It was written in our front parlour on a piano. Ray played the riff on a piano, we always had a piano in the front room because that’s where we had all the parties and wedding receptions. I had just bought a small amp from a shop next door and it wasn’t very good and I was getting very irritated with its sound.
“I had a flash of inspiration if you like. I got a razor blade and I cut the speaker cone up. I didn’t even think for one minute it would even play, but I plugged it in and all of a sudden I heard the incredible rasping, almost scary tone coming out of the amp.
“Me and Ray looked at each other and we just knew it was going to be something extraordinary but we had no idea how far it would take us. Modestly I think it was the first power chord. I was looking for a new sound and we found it. The guitar was a harmony meteor semi acoustic, that’s why there is so much feedback on the record because of the nature of the instrument.
“It was a pivotal moment for us,” beams Dave.
You Really Got Me crashed into the charts in September 1964 both in the UK and the United States. If you think about the record and the year it was recorded, there was nothing before that sounds remotely like it. It is a one-off and has certainly stood the test of time. In many ways it sums up the excitement and energy of the time and the British Invasion of America.
We look back and see the Beatles landing at JFK airport in February of that year and the thousands of screaming, hysterical fans, but it is worth remembering that the Kinks and You Really Got Me are just as important as anything coming out of the UK and its subsequent influence cannot be measured. It is all encompassing and is one of the greatest British songs of all time.
So if we all make a wish, it is highly possible that we will be seeing the infamous Davies brothers on stage ripping in to a stunning live version of You Really Got Me for one last time.
Come on boys you know you want to.
You can hear Pete in conversation with Dave Davies of the Kinks this Saturday at 10pm on the Saturday Social on Absolute Radio. Listen here.