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Home / Latest News / The Kinks: Almost over before they began thanks to on-stage Cardiff bust-up

The Kinks: Almost over before they began thanks to on-stage Cardiff bust-up

They were one of this country’s most influential and dysfunctional bands, almost as well known for their bruising bust-ups as they were for penning such timeless classics as Waterloo Sunset and Sunny Afternoon.

But, as a new biography into The Kinks reveals, the group’s celebrated career was almost cut short before it had even begun thanks to one tumultuous gig they played in Cardiff in 1965.

The Muswell Hill four piece were appearing at the city’s now defunct Capital Theatre when simmering tensions within the band shockingly came to the boil in front of thousands of Welsh fans, resulting in drummer Mick Avory hospitalising guitarist Dave Davies and fleeing into the summer night with South Wales police in hot pursuit.

“There’d always been a lot of underlying aggression and friction within The Kinks and, while the most common assumption is that most of it stemmed from Ray and Dave Davies’ sibling rivalry, it was actually Dave and Mick who came to blows most often,” says author Rob Jovanovic, who spent three years compiling interviews with those close to the band for his book, God Save The Kinks.

“In fact, it was at a show in Taunton that one such confrontation turned physical and left Dave with a pair of black eyes.”

And, come the following night’s show in Cardiff, Davies was finding his simmering anger as hard to disguise as his shiners, despite the big pair of dark glasses he’d now taken to wearing on stage.     

“There have been so many interpretations of what happened that night and, of the several different people I talked to about it I must have got several different answers,” adds Jovanovic.

“But basically it seems like Dave and Mick had got into another disagreement over each other’s playing style, prompting the former to kick over the drum kit and the latter to subsequently smash him over the head with a drum pedal.

“And, upon seeing Dave lying motionless, Mick hightailed it out of the venue, his frilly shirt and pink hunting jacket flapping in his wake.”

Dave Davies rehearsing in The Kinks' dressing room, September 1964
Dave Davies rehearsing in The Kinks’ dressing room, September 1964


In the chaos which followed an unconscious Davies was rushed to Cardiff Royal Infirmary where he received 16 stitches, while Avory – convinced he’d killed his band mate – went into hiding.

However, despite all charges against him eventually being dropped and band relations somehow being smoothed over, the incident did much to damage to The Kinks’ international career – the American Federation of Musicians refusing to let the group tour the States for the next four years, thereby cutting them off from a huge US fan base at a time when British music was at the height of its popularity courtesy of The Beatles et al.

“It had a massive detrimental effect on them, resulting in the group never really getting the kudos they deserved,” says Jovanovic, citing how the Davies brothers traditionally been unfairly tagged by some as the poor relations of The Fab Four and The Rolling Stones.

“After that Ray’s songwriting became ever more quintessentially English. Take, for example, a record like The Village Green Preservation Society, which you could argue was a direct response to the issuing of that transatlantic ban.

“And, while it might be considered a seminal work nowadays, the problem was that it hardly sold any copies at all at the time.”

 But for Ray Davies – whose status as rock’s elder statesman was compounded by his triumphant performance during the Olympic closing ceremony last year – The Kinks’ fractious fellowship was an unavoidable byproduct of being young, cocky and living under the pressure of the spotlight’s glare.

“We weren’t the obvious types you’d pick to be in a rock and roll band either,” says the 68-year-old.

“I certainly wasn’t frontman material and my brother’s guitar was considered too loud and too gruff for the time.

“So the odds were against us and we had to punch a hole through all that in order to succeed.”

As well as punching a few holes in each other, it seems.

“It was in our nature to be battlers,” Davies laughed.

“Ultimately though, the one thing that made our music interesting in the first place ended up being the very thing that destroyed it.”

God Save The Kinks (Aurum Press) is out now on, priced £18 

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