Throwback Review: Kink by Dave Davies

I’ve been looking forward to Dave Davies’ second autobiography, Living On A Thin Line, for a while now and when I saw that Dave was doing a book signing in London, I booked tickets for that since The Kinks are one of my favourite bands of all time (I screamed like a fangirl when I first saw the announcement not gonna lie). I’m not kidding, you can see that I’ve been a fan for a long time:

Dedicated Follower of Fashion… and The Kinksand classic rock as a whole

I’ve read a few classic rock autobiographies, you’d expect that from someone who loves classic rock and runs a whole blog about it, and I’d have to say Kink is one of my favourites and you’ll see why. And why not do a little throwback review before I review Living On A Thin Line? Without further ado, let’s review Kink! It’s out of print, but you can find secondhand copies for sale online.

Review: Kink

Being a Kinks fan comes with a lot of awkward moments especially if you’re talking to the uninitiated: “you like what?” or “are you some sort of sexual deviant?”. This book title, if you have no idea who The Kinks are is one of those things you’d think is really weird out of context. You wouldn’t be entirely wrong because this book is at least R-rated, maybe even X-rated at some points and you’ll see what I mean later. But that’s what we love about Dave! He has no filter and he’s an entire meme. You’ll know what I mean if you follow him on Twitter. His Twitter is at least as chaotic as Cher’s. I love reading what both Ray and Dave have to say about their lives as classic rockers, but I find that Dave’s writing style resonates more with me and he’s more honest and straightforward. Ray on the other hand is an unreliable narrator and someone who you really need to analyse and decode to understand, which I find fun because you could read his writing multiple times and find something new in it.

Overall Dave is an excellent storyteller, very engaging, detailed, funny, and honest, you’ll want to keep reading. I always get a kick out of the way he describes women’s appearances, be it girlfriends or groupies – let’s just say he’s blunt and an appreciator of big boobs. The language is very much a product of its time and not at all PC, so warning to those who are sensitive to that. If you wanna get fit while reading this book, do pushups or squats every time Dave talks about having sex, because there’s a lot of it in this book – can get a bit TMI to say the least, but there’s less of that as the book goes on. Have to say the book is appropriately titled. What do you expect? He’s a party animal who got famous in the 60s. There’s gonna be a lot of sexual encounters and lots of name dropping – if you don’t know already, classic rockers are quite tight knit – they all know each other. You’ll also get some explanations of the music business and how royalties and stuff work. Basically, music, like any of the arts, isn’t a get rich quick scheme and you can easily get screwed over, and in some cases, some rock stars may have to go back to day jobs. The Kinks wrote a whole album about that, Lola Versus Powerman and the Moneygoround (you need to listen to it, it is so good).

In this book there are so many crazy stories packed in there I can’t even list them all – you’ll just have to read to find out all his shenanigans and debauchery. As much as I love classic rock, I can’t say I approve of the destruction of hotel rooms, cheating on wives and girlfriends, and breaking hearts. Nobody’s perfect. The book can get chaotic at times with Dave talking about being a vegetarian (love that! I’m a longtime vegetarian and have been vegan for 5 years) and talking about his encounters with aliens and love of astrology, psychic stuff, and spirituality. Also I love how he goes on a rant about capitalism (he never said he was a socialist like Ray, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he was) – you can see why socialists love The Kinks. He can also go a bit off on tangents, but that’s what I love! That’s my writing style too and I think these elements give the book character.

Admittedly, I am most into The Kinks music from 1965-1970 and I find that when we get to the Preservation albums and that whole saga, I lose interest because the music wasn’t as good as their old stuff. There are still amusing stories from this time period, but I do find as the book goes on, Dave vents more and more about Ray, yet I still see he has compassion for him – chronic pain and mental health problems – that stuff drives you crazy, and Dave goes off on even more tangents. There is a happy ending where he sees his first girlfriend, Sue, again and meets his firstborn daughter, Tracey.

By the end of this book, you’ll definitely have even more of an appreciation and love for Dave Davies, and wonder why there isn’t a Kinks biopic already. The Kinks weren’t Ray’s band, they were Ray and Dave’s band and it’s time that Dave gets more appreciation and credit for his work in the band. If you don’t know how much of a legend he is now, well, you’ll know when you read Kink. If you’re a Kinks fan and you haven’t read Kink and X-Ray, what are you doing? Read both of them.

10 Craziest Stories in Kink

Often when I review a book, I’ll do a top 10 takeaways. I think we’re going to change it up. These are 10 of Dave’s craziest stories. There’s a lot in the book, but these were some of my favourites.

1. Dave Davies was expelled for skipping school to have sex with his girlfriend.

As a teenager, Dave was quite the social butterfly and he had a girlfriend he loved very much. Her name was Sue. The two started dating when he was 13 and she was 14. Being a bit rebellious, Dave didn’t give a rat’s ass about school. The three things on his mind were music, football, and his girlfriend. The two were inseparable and Dave would often cut class to have sex with his girlfriend. One day in June, Dave and Sue went to one of their favourite places to hook up, Hampstead Heath (it’s a pretty easy place to get lost because it’s a big park). The grass had just been cut and little did they know, truancy officers were following them and the two were expelled from school. Dave was only 15. Because the birth control pill wasn’t as available then as it is now (it was hard enough to get in the 60s anyway, you had to be married to get it prescribed to you), Sue fell pregnant. Dave proposed to her, but his parents and Sue’s parents were not happy with the two getting married, so the Davieses and the Sheehans conspired to separate the young couple and so Dave was told Sue didn’t want to see him anymore and Sue was told Dave didn’t want to see her anymore. Dave was heartbroken. The two wouldn’t meet again until the 90s.

2. Dave nearly killed himself while creating that fuzzy guitar sound.

If there’s anything Dave wants you to know, it’s that he created that fuzzy guitar sound on “You Really Got Me” and “All Day and All of the Night” and that he played the guitar solos, not Jimmy Page. Put respect on his name! Sometime when Dave was 16 sitting in his parents’ front room, he was doing a little experiment with his amplifier, wanting a certain sound, and he grew frustrated. He grabbed his collection of amplifiers and daisy chained them to each other just to see what would happen. He turned on the electricity, strummed his guitar, and then BAM! He was shocked, flew straight across the room, and the fuses all blew out. While that was a failure, he went back to the drawing board and plugged his little green Elpico amp into the Vox AC 30… And for the pièce de résistance… he took a razor blade to the speaker cone of the Elpico amp and voila! His fuzzy guitar sound was born. Sure, it wasn’t the first fuzz guitar sound, The Ventures and Link Wray had him beat, but you have to admit, that was some resourcefulness.

3. The Kray Twins wanted Ray and Dave to play them in a biopic.

Ultimately two other sibling musicians, Gary and Martin Kemp of Spandau Ballet, played infamous London mobsters Ronnie and Reggie Kray. The Kray Twins committed their crimes during the Swinging Sixties and mingled with celebrities. They really liked The Kinks and even wanted to manage them. That obviously didn’t pan out and thank goodness, because they were arrested in 1968. The Kray Twins contacted The Kinks saying they wanted Ray and Dave to play them in a biopic, but they rejected the offer because they were busy touring and Dave himself wrote that he felt wrong acting in a movie that “glamourised crime”. He regretted it and wished he played them, thinking he and Ray would have suited the roles better than the Kemps.

4. Dave had sex with a groupie at Ray’s wedding.

There are a lot of crazy sex stories in this book, but one of my favourites is Dave bringing a groupie named Eileen with him to Ray’s wedding. They travelled up to Bradford, where Ray’s first wife, Rasa lived, so the wedding could be more lowkey, so to not ruin The Kinks’ marketability (famously, 1950s teen idol Marty Wilde’s popularity declined after he married Vernons Girl Joyce Baker). Right before the reception, Dave and Eileen went upstairs for a quickie. Then his sister, Peggy, walks in on them saying Dave needs to be downstairs to give the wedding toast, and Dave quickly gets dressed, hurries down the stairs, gets drunk and delivers an incoherent speech. Let’s just say Rasa’s family were not impressed.

5. Dave wanted to have a threesome with Brian Jones… and the feeling was mutual?

Dave reveals that there are a couple British Invasion stars who liked the same sex, one of them was Brian Jones, one of the most stylish rock stars to ever walk the earth. Both Dave and Brian Jones were seeing the same girl in Paris, the actress Zouzou. Zouzou spills the tea and tells Dave that she also is seeing Brian Jones and that she mentioned him to Brian and he expressed interest in having a threesome. Dave is intrigued by this and confesses that he also wants to have a threesome with Zouzou and Brian Jones. This never ended up materialising because the three were not in Paris at the same time. Dave and Brian did hang out a few times, but neither confessed their attraction to the other. Perhaps out of having too much respect for the other person, fear of rejection, homophobia in the 60s? Brian Jones died in 1969, at the age of 27.

6. In anger, Dave destroyed a hotel room like Keith Moon.

Dave describes hotel rooms as some of the most boring places and said that in his career, he stayed in some dumps and sleazy looking hotels. Sure, as a rock star you have endless groupies, but it can get monotonous. While on tour in the north of England, Dave brought a groupie named Vivien back to his hotel room. Vivien’s father was strict and just hours later shouted outside the hotel for her to come home. She ran out of Dave’s room after lying to her dad that she was a bit ill and staying with a friend, and quickly fled the room. Dave’s blood was boiling. In a fit of rage, he threw chairs around the room, flipped over the bed, peed in the dresser and wardrobe – like a cat marking its territory, before finally pooping in the sink. Thankfully for the hotel, there was no TV in the room because Dave would have yeeted that out the window. In the end, Dave had to pay the hotel 30 shillings as a cleaning fee. He reflected in his book that he regretted a lot of the destruction and vandalism he took part in on the road. Remember, he was only 17 when he got famous and started touring the world. Give a kid that age fame and money and they can go a bit crazy. Thankfully by his mid 20s, Dave mellowed out thanks to his vegetarian diet and yoga practice, that he has maintained to this day.

Another hotel destruction incident happened in Taunton (in Somerset, South West England), while on tour with Gerry and the Pacemakers, he and Gerry Marsden (both very drunk) were at the hotel bar and were refused alcohol and told the groupies couldn’t stay with them in the hotel. They got their revenge by picking up an antique axe and swords on the wall and breaking into the hotel bar after the night porter left the area. Dave also swung the axe at the reception desk (thankfully no one was there) and Gerry started slashing couches and curtains. The two quickly darted away from the scene and snuck in the back entrance to go back to their rooms. Neither were arrested. Neither got in any trouble. They played dumb when staff asked them about it.

7. Dave was arrested in Copenhagen the day before The Kinks were to play the NME Pollwinners’ Concert.

The Kinks were already raising a riot before their first American tour (yes, that one that got them banned from America). Two precursors to this were their concert in Cardiff where Mick Avory threw either a cymbal or drum pedal (depends on who’s telling the story) at Dave’s head, knocking him out. And the other one was their first concert in Copenhagen. First, the crowd go wild at the concert, rushing towards the stage, the Danish police were scared and called the riot police in with their guns and riot sticks and were brutal towards the concert goers, they were terrified, and the scene got ugly. Dave goes back to the hotel and gets drunk. He steals a bottle of brandy from the hotel bar, drinks the whole thing, and throws the empty bottle before running to his hotel room with a woman named Lisbet. The police knock on Dave’s door and tell him he’s not allowed to have female guests in his room. The police chase Dave and Lisbet while Dave is running around the hotel drunkenly screaming and banging on all the doors to find the band’s tour manager to sort out this problem. The police found him in a maid’s room, arrested him, paraded him through the hotel, and took him to jail. Lucky for Dave, being famous saved him and his managers bailed him out of jail, convinced the hotel not to press charges, and took him to the airport so they could go back to England to play the NME Pollwinners’ Concert with a star-studded lineup: The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Animals, Them, Tom Jones, The Moody Blues, Herman’s Hermits, Dusty Springfield, Cilla Black, Wayne Fontana and the Mindbenders, The Seekers, Georgie Fame, Donovan, and Freddie and the Dreamers. The Kinks were the last to play. Who did they follow? The Beatles, of course. Just their luck!

There is a silver lining in this, he would later marry Lisbet. What a first impression he made!

8. Dave’s acquisition of his trademark Flying V guitar was kismet!

When you’re touring the world, stolen guitars are an inevitability. Dave Davies got George Harrison’s custom built Guild guitar just before the American tour. I believe this is the same one on the Kink Kontroversy album cover, but I could be wrong so don’t quote me on that. Basically, The Kinks were flying across the USA because it’s a country the size of a continent and it would be impractical to drive everywhere so they flew. On the way to LA, the Guild guitar was stolen. Dave was gutted and had to go to a guitar shop to find a new one. All was not lost, and it was fate, destiny, kismet, a sign from the universe… He would find a unique looking guitar that he would help popularise and spark a revived interest. Dave as you know is an incredibly fashionable person and has a good eye for style. An odd triangular shaped guitar case among a sea of dusty old guitar cases caught Dave’s eye and he wanted to have a look at it. The shop assistant was like nah you don’t want that dusty old thing, but Dave bought it for $200. He famously played that guitar on his Shindig! appearance. Dave Davies is one of three guitarists who helped popularise the Flying V. The other two were Albert King and Lonnie Mack. After that Jimi Hendrix, Keith Richards, Marc Bolan, Andy Powell, Michael Schenker, Joe Perry, Eddie Van Halen, Kirk Hammett, Lenny Kravitz played Flying V guitars.

9. Ray tried to sell Dave for a house!

You know The Kinks song “David Watts”? Yeah, that homoerotic song about a presumably straight guy lowkey crushing on a gay guy, the gay guy being David Watts himself? The real David Watts was a concert promoter in Rutland. When The Kinks played a concert, there they went over to David Watts’ house and they partied. David Watts went from strait-laced rich guy to flamboyant party animal thanks to booze. David Watts being gay and Dave Davies being bisexual, Ray thought it would be a fun idea to play matchmaker and tried to get David and Dave together. David tells Dave that Ray was willing to trade him for his house. That’s right, self proclaimed socialist Ray Davies wanted to trade his brother for a Georgian manor house. Dave said this was one of many times Ray disregarded his feelings and welfare.

10. A crossdressing Dave seduced Mick Avory, and Mick flirted back.

I had to save the best story for last. Sometime in the mid 70s when The Kinks were on tour in America, Dave called his friend Linda in New York and the two decided to crossdress. Dave crossdressed as a woman and Linda crossdressed as a man and they went clubbing in Greenwich Village. Dave went the whole 9 yards: wig, makeup and all. He mentions this isn’t his first time crossdressing, but it is the first time he went out in public like that and he admits he got a thrill out of people checking him out while dressed up as a lady and he loved the incognito aspect. Anyway, at 3 in the morning he and Linda arrive at their favourite club, Nobody’s (a favourite of many classic rockers) and lo and behold Mick Avory and John Gosling [The Kinks keyboard player] were there. Dave moseys on over to the table where Mick is sitting and he flirts with Mick. For a while there, Mick fell for it and flirted back. He had no idea who this lovely lady in front of him was, or that that wasn’t a lady. Helps that the lighting was bad and it was probably loud inside there. Dave then pulls up his dress and grabs his crotch in front of Mick and only then did Mick realise that was Dave flirting with him. Dave said that Mick’s reaction was priceless.

What I’d give to see Dave as a guest judge on RuPaul’s Drag Race… or at least a Kinks lipsync!

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