Will The Kinks Ever Reunite? You Really Got Me

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The Kinks’ first hit

So what’s the news about that English pop band we all knew and loved from the mid-’60s through the mid-’90s? The band we still keep asking God to save, more than two decades after its breakup?

The band, of course, is The Kinks, and the news is more or less the same as what we’ve been hearing from Kinks-related parties for years now when the topic of a reunion is broached: Maybe. But they remain on the short list of bands that classic rock fans are eager to see return to the stage.

At the end of a warm and feisty chinwag with guitarist Dave Davies backstage after a Boston concert in October 2015, I said, almost apologetically, “You know me, I’m a journalist. I gotta ask: What are the chances of a Kinks reunion?”

Dave shrugged. “Fair,” he said. This was pretty much the same thing Dave told me in the fall of ’14: “After my tour, I’m going to go back to the U.K. in December and hopefully sit down [with Ray] and come up with something. It’d be a shame not to do.”

Brother Dave

Dave, of course, beat the odds by coming back from a debilitating stroke he’d had in 2004. In 2014, he said, “When I was ill with the stroke and everything, I think it brought a lot more clarity into my life, especially metaphysically and spiritually. It allowed me a means to use this knowledge or information or a way towards meditation. Also, it reminded me we’re not as in control as we like to think. You’re lying on your back in a hospital, paralyzed – you think differently. Maybe we don’t have any control over what happens.”

Related: The Kinks’ ‘Celluloid Heroes’: Everybody’s a Star

In 2015, post-set, in a semi-jocular manner, I followed up the reunion questions with, “Jesus, Dave, you know one of you will die at some point and then there can’t be a reunion.” He sort of winced and I immediately rushed in with, “I don’t mean now! Not soon! I just mean… inevitably.”

As always, Dave said, it was up to Ray. The brothers have long had a loving/contentious relationship – check out the songs “Hatred (A Duet)” and “Brother,” for a couple of musical reminders.

And consider some bits from the many (always separate) Ray and Dave interviews I’ve done over the years:

Brother Ray

1984: I’m talking with Ray about Dave. “I love him,” Ray said, softly. “But sometimes… he’s family… and I don’t really like family.”

1993: I’m talking with Dave before a rare Kinks club gig in Boston. I asked where the situation with Ray stood at present. “It’s not that I really hate him, though I hate him at times,” Dave said. “I suppose I find him more irritating and exasperating.”

1999: Three years after the Kinks’ breakup, Dave, on a solo tour: “Well, I think the thing is, there’s always going to be love; I’m always going to love my brother. I might not like his personality, but it doesn’t prevent me from loving him. I don’t hate his works because he can be difficult.”

And then, there’s this: On May 26, 2018, Dave wrote on his Facebook page: “Me and Ray have been getting on well and have been working on other work related things.”

As to a potential reunion… The Kinks are rather hot right now; the musical about the Kinks, Sunny Afternoon, was a recent hit on London’s West End, running from 2014 until 2016.

Ray has a new album on the way, Our Country: Americana Act II, a follow-up to his 2017 album and 2013 memoir, Americana. The new studio album arrives on June 29 via Sony Music’s Legacy Recordings on CD and as a 2-LP set.

Dave toured the U.S. this past spring and has an album coming out this year, produced by his son, Simon, titled Decade. “It’s an [album] of unreleased material from the ’70s, hence we’re gonna call it Decade, being the decade of the ’70s,” he told ABC Radio in March 2018. He released an album in 2017, Open Road, with another son, Russ.

Despite their active solo release schedules, neither brother has announced future tour plans. Original drummer Mick Avory might be up for reuniting. Keyboardist Ian Gibbons is still around, having played on Ray’s last solo tour. However, bassist Jim Rodford, who had been playing with his cousin, Rod Argent, in the Zombies, died in January 2018. Gibbons and Avory also play sometimes with singer Dave Clarke and former Kinks bass guitarist John Dalton as the Kast Off Kinks. (Ray has even sung with them.)

Two months after our 2015 meeting, Dave flew to London around Christmas and met with Ray. Only this time, the “sit down” not only happened, the brothers performed on stage together for the first time in decades. It took place at a Dave gig at the Islington Assembly Hall in London. Fans were shocked as Ray walked out onstage, sauntered up to the microphone, spoke a few words to the audience, and sang “You Really Got Me,” the Kinks’ first hit from 1964, with Dave’s band.

Watch that one-song reunion: Ray and Dave Davies performing “You Really Got Me” in 2015

Postscript: After Dave’s 2015 show at the Wilbur Theatre in Boston, where he was backed by guitarist Jonathan Lea, bassist Tom Currier and Smithereens drummer Dennis Diken, I mentioned that he’d played the Kinks’ “I’m Not Like Everybody Else” twice. Dave explained the first was short and just a tease and the longer one played later with its gorgeous and grinding electric guitar lead-in was his preference.

Related: Listings of 100s of classic rock tours

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Jim Sullivan

Jim Sullivan

As a high school baseball player growing up in Maine, I used to pump myself up for games by playing Raw Power by Iggy & the Stooges –the ultimate adrenaline rush. My friends and team mates didn't quite get it. They liked Chicago (the band). But that was OK: the punk rock revolution was around the corner, and that's where my musical taste locked in with many others, bored with corporate rock. Yes, I had Slade, Mott, Bowie and Roxy to get me there, too. That punk (and post) period was a time of extreme excitement (friction, joy, conflict) that inspired me to write about what I loved. And it opened the doors to even more worlds.

I wrote about pop music and other arts for the Boston Globe for 25-plus years, with more than 10,000 stories to my credit before leaving in 2005. Since then I’ve freelanced for the Boston Phoenix, Boston Herald, Where magazine, Boston Common, Yankee magazine online, Time Out Boston, US News & World Report, the Cape Cod Times. I host the XFINITY on Demand music/interview show “Boston Rock/Talk,” and write and edit www.jimsullivanink.com, which serves as a critical guide to arts and events around metro Boston.
Jim Sullivan
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