Members: Ray Davie, Dave Davies, Pete Quaife, Mick Avory
The Kinks were formed in 1963 by two brothers, Ray and Dave Davies and at first were named the Ravens. Ray was the lead singer and sometimes played guitar, Dave was the lead guitarist. Ray's friend Peter Quaife join then and played bass and the drummer was Mickey Willett. The first song they recorded, Ray's "I Took My Baby Home" was sent to Pye Records in late '63 and they were signed to a contract in '64. Just before doing so, Willett was replaced by Mick Avory on drums. They recorded their first single, a cover of Little Richard's "Long Tall Sally" and just before it's release renamed the group "the Kinks".
Their first two singles went nowhere. But when the third single "You Really Got Me" was released in '64, it shot up to number one on the UK charts and was a top ten hit in the US. Truth being, nobody really ever heard a guitar solo like the one Dave delivered on this song. It was rock's first heavy metal song even though heavy metal was still a good five years from happening. Their next single, "All Day and All of the Night" was another metal like song, it went to number two in the UK and number seven in the States. By now the Kinks had two albums out and were a hit and they were touring everywhere. But in '65 after the US tour they were banned from the US and would not be allowed back in till late '69.
Hit singles would continue for the Kinks, Ray would be one of rock's early and best writers. He seem to cover all social bases when he wrote; "A Well Respected Man" was a satire about British conservatism, "Sunny Afternoon'"(another UK number 1) dealt with capitalism and the rich, "Dead End Street" about the poor (there would be a bunch more later on that subject) and of course love songs - or the lack of love with "Tired Of Waiting For You". Although most of their albums would get good reviews their singles seem to sell better and were more received by their fans. Two fine written concept albums, The Kinks Are The Village Green Preservation Society, released in 1968 and Arthur Or The Decline And Fall Of The British Empire, released in 1969, failed to sell.
In 1969 the first change came to the band's lineup when Quaife left and was replaced by John Dalton on bass. There had been rumors before that the band would break up as the two Davies brothers were constantly at each others throats, fighting over just about everything, But it was just an older brother (Ray) verses younger brother (Dave) thing and nothing really more than that. In 1970 they added a keyboard player to the band, John Gosling. Then came the release of one of their finest albums, Lola Vs Powerman And The Moneygoround Part One. It was a hit as was the single "Lola," a story about a transvestite, went to the top ten in both the US and UK. The album help make the Kinks concerts favorites in the US where they were now able to tour again, and tour the US they did. In the 70s they would tour the US over and over to sellout crowds, but rarely performed in Britain and when they did return home they didn't draw as well there.
In 1971 the band signed a new record deal with RCA and released the album Muswell Hillbillies which had a country feel to it. Once again the album got great reviews yet didn't sell well. Their old label Reprise released a double-album compilation at the same time called The Kink Kronikles, and it outsold their RCA debut. While with RCA in the '70s the band would release three rock opera's written by Ray ( Preservation Act I, Preservation Act II, Schoolboys In Disgrace) and the concept album Soap Opera, all sold poorly and they were dropped by RCA. They signed a new deal with Arista Records in 1977 and the next two releases, Sleepwalker (1977) and Misfits (1978) were hits. During this time Dalton would leave the band, be replaced by Andy Pyle when Sleepwalker was being recorded, Pyle would then leave and Dalton would return, only to again leave while touring in support of the Misfits album. This time he was replaced by bassist Jim Rodford. The band then had another hit with the release of 1979's Low Budget.
Their first two albums released in the eighties, 1981's Give The People What They Want and State of Confusion released in '83 with the hit single "Come Dancing", both sold well, but after that the rest of the decade went down hill, at least as far as sales went. In 1987 Avory left the band and was replaced on drums by Bob Henrit. In 1989 keyboardist Ian Gibbons, who joined the band in the early 80s also left and once again the Davies brothers were at odds and more talk of a breakup was in the winds. In 1990 the band was inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame, and for the first time in years the original band was together again, even if for only one night.
The Kinks signed to Columbia Records in 1991. Their debut for that label was Phobia, it was a good album but once again it didn't sell well. They were then dropped from the label and then they released a new live album on an independent label To The Bone, that did a little better. After that both of the Davies brothers released autobiographies, Ray's published in early 1995 titled X-Ray and Dave's Kink was published in the spring of 1996. Today their past work is looked upon fondly by their fans and many of the newer bands count them amongst their main influence.