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Legendary guitarist Dave Davies played in The Kinks with brother Ray Davies, penned hits like "Death of a Clown," and entered the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
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Dave Davies was born February 3, 1947 in London. At just 13, he played his first show with his older brother, Ray Davies. By 16, they had formed The Kinks. As guitarist, his dissonant chord in "You've Really Got Me" influenced musicians, and his song "Death of Clown," hit No. 3 on the charts. When the band broke up in 1996, he continued writing and recording music, even after a stroke in 2004.
"I think the music is so beautiful it shouldn't be tainted. It would be a shame. You don't need to see silly old men in wheelchairs singing 'You Really Got Me.'"
(-Dave Davies, regarding a possible reunion tour of The Kinks.)
Dave Davies was born on February 3, 1947 in London, England, the eighth child of Fred and Annie Davies. Born into a close-knit, working-class family, Davies was exposed to a variety of musical styles, from family sing-alongs at the piano to the early jazz and rock music that his six older sisters listened to.
Davies learned the guitar and played his first show with his older brother, Ray Davies, at the age of 13. Two years later, Davies, his brother and their friends, Pete Quaife and Mick Avory, formed the band that would come to be known as The Kinks.
The Kinks released their self-titled debut album in 1964, and embarked on a world tour a year later. While the band came together seamlessly enough, conflict was always in the background. A rivalry had festered between the Davies brothers since childhood, and Dave Davies and drummer Mick Avory soon developed a tumultuous relationship, as well. They fought on stage during their first tour, when, after playing one song, Davies insulted Avory and toppled his drum set. Avory struck Davies with his cymbal stand, knocked him unconscious and caused a gash that required 16 stitches. Later that year, the American Federation of Musicians denied the group the permits required to play in the United States, and although they didn't specify the reason, many believed it was because of these kinds of incidents.
In spite of internal feuds, the band was garnering both commercial and critical acclaim. Although he often took a backseat to his brother, Dave Davies was an excellent musician in his own right. With his signature, dissonant chord in "You've Really Got Me," he influenced musicians of the day by being the first mainstream guitarist to use distortion on an album. He also wrote and sang songs for the band; "Death of a Clown," on Something Else by The Kinks, the band's fifth studio album, reached No. 3 on the charts in 1967. The record label wanted to feel out a possible solo LP, but his first official solo single, "Susannah's Still Alive," only hit No. 20, and subsequent songs didn't chart at all. He made another attempt at a solo career in the 1970s, with similar lackluster results.
The band had a surge in popularity in the early 1980s, and continued to record and tour for 15 years, although their popularity dwindled with time. The four original band members were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990, and The Kinks played their last concert in Oslo at the Norwegian Wood Festival, in June of 1996.
At age 15, Davies was caught having sex with his girlfriend at his high school, and was subsequently expelled from school.
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The 1960s were a time of significant cultural and social change in London. The post-World War II era, coined "Swinging London," saw a youth-driven shift in culture, from old to new. Symbolized by famous faces like English supermodels Jean Shrimpton and Twiggy to "British Invasion" rock bands like the Beatles and Cream, the era created a fresh and modern approach to everything from fashion to music to cultural attitudes. Biography.com looks at the inspirational forces behind the "Swinging London" revolution.
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