10 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About The Kinks

in Blog, Classic Rock, Power Pop by Gareth Peebles


The Kinks have always fascinated me. As a child, listening to my parent’s mix-tapes on long journeys, the lyrics of Sunny Afternoon took me away to a world I could barely comprehend. Yet despite the alien subjects of drinking, domestic violence and financial insolvency, it was all so accessible that it made perfect sense in my head.

Then, as I entered my teens and picked up my first collection of Kinks songs, I couldn’t get my head around (and still can’t really understand) why the band were not revered in the same way as other national treasures of the same era.

Now, after all these years convincing myself that I was a Kinks fan, after reading Rob Jovanovic’s book, ‘God Save The Kinks: A Biography’ (2013, Aurum Press). I realise that I knew absolutely nothing about them! As far as I was aware, The Kinks were banned from America during their heyday and this was – in my mind – the reason why they had failed to garner as much adoration as the other great bands of their generation and that was that…

As it turns out the story is not quite as simple as this and Jovanovic’s book does a superb job of pulling together all of the misshaped pieces of The Kinks jigsaw puzzle. I’ve cherry picked just ten interesting factoids from it, but every page provides a compelling insight in to the band, their management and entourage, so is definitely worth a look.


1) Ray’s overdose and “the last Kinks gig”

In the summer of 1973, Ray overdosed on a combination of Valium and alcohol not long after his 29th Birthday. This was almost certainly a result of his first wife, Rasa’s, hasty departure from his life when she took with her their two children.

Not long after this sad turn of events, the band were due to play at the Great Western Express Festival. They had expected to play without Ray, until he turned up in his eccentric finest:

“He looked awful – matted hair, gaunt cheeks, hiding behind shades in the mid-afternoon gloom. He was wearing white linen trousers and an ugly white shirt with a red design splashed across it and the eccentric ensemble was finished off with a blue bow tie.”

As the gig finished and completely unbeknownst to the band, Ray announced that it would be their last gig: “I’m fucking sick of the whole thing. I’m sick up to here with it!”

He declared it their final show and said he was retiring from music”, but thanks to classics Kinks bad luck, the announcement was drowned out by a loud backing track that had just kicked in. Making this announcement almost inaudible to the crowd and thus nul and void!


2) Ray’s review of Revolver


By 1967 The Kinks had five albums under their belts (their first album was released in ’64) and had released the majority of their big top ten singles; with the exception of Lola (‘70), Apeman (‘70) & Come Dancing (‘82). It was also during 1967 that The Beatles released Revolver and which Ray subsequently reviewed for Disc and Music Echo. The review started with the headline, ‘REALLY, IT’S A LOAD OF RUBBISH’ and quintessential Ray followed.

Taxman – It sounds like a cross between The Who and Batman.

Eleanor Rigby – It sounds like they’re out to please music teachers in primary schools.

Love You Too – George wrote this – he must have quite a big influence on the group now. I was doing this sort of song two years ago – now I’m doing what The Beatles were doing two years ago.

Yellow Submarine – This is a load of rubbish, really. I take the mickey out of myself on the piano and play stuff like this. I think they know it’s not that good.

And Your Bird Can Sing – Don’t like this. The song’s too predictable. It’s not a Beatles song at all.

Got To Get You Into My Life – Paul sounds like Little Richard.

Tomorrow Never Knows – listen to all those crazy sounds! It’ll be popular in the discotheques.


3) The only real Kinks album

village green preservation

While reading the book it becomes apparent that Ray used the band as a vehicle to help achieve his own personal, artistic vision, something that he accomplished through sheer stubbornness and his unwillingness to compromise – that plus the occasional prima donna tantrum.

The general consensus from the band seems to be that working on, The Village Green Preservation Society (1968) was a real high point for everyone involved.

Pete Quaife, bass player for the band from 1964 – 1969 is quoted as saying: “Making that album was a high point of my career. It is something of which I am very proud. For me it represents the only real album made by The Kinks. It is probably the only album made by us in which we all contributed something”

Mick Avory, one of The Kinks longest serving members, playing drums for the band between 1964 & 1984, added: “It was more collaborative, rather than going in like session men and just doing it.”


4) They could have earned more running a grocers shop

Around the release of, The Village Green Preservation Society (1968) – a benchmark moment in the band’s career – Peter Quaife and Mick Avory had their contracts ‘adjusted’, which saw them earning the princely sum of just £40 a week! Jovanovic writes, “Quaife’s step-father, earned more running a grocers shop”.

* £40 = roughly £666.00 according to The Bank of England’s handy inflation calculator (you’re welcome)


5) Coca Cola tastes just like Cherry Cola

“Ray was forced to make a 6,000 mile round trip back to London, after just two nights of a US tour: the BBC wouldn’t play the record (Lola). Their decision was not, as it happened, because of the song’s transvestite subject, but because Ray had sung the line ‘Tastes just like Coca Cola’, which went against the BBC’s strict no-advertising regulations.”



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