After All These Years Ray Davies Shares His Thoughts Of The Kinks Being Banned In USA
via 5 News / Youtube
The Kinks, synonymous with British Invasion anthems and witty social commentary, faced an unexpected hurdle during their first American tour in 1965. What began as a whirlwind of concerts and screaming fans took a sharp turn, culminating in a multi-year ban from the very land they sought to conquer.
This dramatic exile left a lasting mark on the band, particularly its frontman, the ever-observant Ray Davies. Decades later, Davies’ voice still holds weight, and his recent reflections on the ban offer a unique perspective on a pivotal moment in music history.
While details remain shrouded in some mystery, the incident reportedly involved a heated exchange with a union official, leading to accusations of property damage and ultimately, the ban. This sudden halt to their American dream had a profound impact on The Kinks’ trajectory, forcing them to shift their focus back to the UK and fostering a deeper introspection in their songwriting.
Yet, the question lingered – what truly transpired that fateful summer, and how does Davies view this turning point in his band’s legacy?
The infamous onstage fight with Mick Avory
The Kinks’ 1965 American tour promised to be a triumphant march, solidifying their place in the British Invasion saga. Unfortunately, the reality unfolded far differently. Onstage theatrics took a dark turn in Wales, as Dave Davies’ infamous spat on drummer Mick Avory escalated into a cymbal-wielding clash, landing him hospitalized and jailed.
This wasn’t the only discordant note. Ticket sales proved lackluster, forcing a shortened set in Reno and an agonizingly stretched-out “You Really Got Me” in Sacramento. While Ray Davies vehemently denied claims of deliberate chaos, even insiders acknowledged self-inflicted hurdles plagued the tour.
These incidents culminated in the shocking turn of events – a complete ban from the U.S., leaving the band’s American dream shattered and Ray Davies with questions that would linger for decades.
This tumultuous tour wasn’t just a collection of unfortunate events; it was a pivotal moment that shaped the Kinks’ future. Forced to turn their focus back to the UK, their music evolved, reflecting deeper introspection and social commentary.
A man’s xenophobic, anti-British tirade that hurt Ray Davies
Ray Davies still vividly recalls what happened during their final low point: the highly-regarded Dick Cavett Show, as written in his autobiography. Davies revealed a confrontation with a man claiming to work for the network, who launched into a tirade laced with xenophobia and anti-British sentiment.
“Some guy who said he worked for the TV company walked up and accused us of being late… ‘Just because the Beatles did it, every mop-topped, spotty-faced limey juvenile thinks he can come over here and make a career for himself. You’re just a bunch of Commie wimps!’”
The man’s insults escalated, dripping with disdain and threats. Davies continued quoting the person, “‘Don’t expect us to save you when the Russians take over Britain, “‘When the Russians take over Britain, don’t expect us to come over and save you this time. The Kinks, huh? Well, once I file my report on you guys, you’ll never work in the U.S.A. again. You’re gonna find out just how powerful America is, you limey bastard!’”
Davies’ account paints a picture of escalating emotions. The memory of the exchange remains fragmented, a “blur” punctuated by the physicality of violence. He remembers being pushed, throwing a punch, and receiving one in return. This altercation, fueled by prejudice and escalating tensions, cast a dark shadow over the Kinks’ American dream.
The ban that took away the best years of The Kinks’ career
Just as The Kinks were poised to conquer America, their American dream was abruptly shattered by a four-year ban imposed by the American Federation of Musicians. This draconian measure, as Ray Davies bitterly acknowledged, took away the best years of the Kinks’ career.
For Davies, the ban went beyond lost opportunities; it was a crushing blow to their aspirations and creativity. Imagine having your music silenced in the very market you’d set your sights on, just as your sound matured and your social commentary resonated with audiences worldwide.
The American ban forced a redirection, propelling them towards deeper introspective songwriting and solidifying their impact in the UK.
Despite the setback, The Kinks persevered. Their music transcended boundaries, leaving an indelible mark on rock history. Yet, the sting of the ban lingered, a stark reminder of the complexities of cultural clashes and the fragility of artistic expression in the face of external pressures.
“Bad luck, bad management, bad behavior”
Years after the dust settled, and the echoes of American applause faded, Ray, then a seasoned rocker with the wisdom of hindsight, revisited the pivotal moment that irrevocably altered their trajectory.
In a candid interview, the frontman spoke of the potent opportunity snatched away. “It was a big pot of honey,” he remarked, “An opportunity to take our careers further, and we had that denied to us.”
However, he wasn’t one to shy away from acknowledging the multifaceted nature of the situation. In a few succinct phrases, he summed up the complex web of factors that contributed to the ban: “Bad luck, bad management, bad behavior”. It was a cocktail of unfortunate circumstances, fueled by both external forces and their own actions.
While the “what ifs” danced hauntingly in the air, he acknowledged the undeniable impact the ban had on their artistic evolution. “It made me root myself more in Europe, the folk tradition in Britain,” he explained.
The story of the Kinks’ American ban stands as a poignant reminder of the capricious nature of success and the intricate interplay between ambition, fate, and choice. It leaves us pondering the paths not taken, the melodies silenced, and the enduring human spirit that navigates even the most turbulent currents, emerging enriched, if forever marked by the experience.