October 17, 1969: Kinks’ First U.S. Show in 4 Years

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kink4It’s one of the great shames of 1960s rock: From 1965 to ’69, The Kinks were banned from playing in America for reasons, having to do with their ’65 debut U.S. tour, that still remain unclear. When they finally were able to return, their first U.S. appearance was at the Fillmore East in New York City, opening for Spirit on this day in 1969.

The ’65 tour of America was something of a mess from the start. The Kinks were supposed to share a bill with the Moody Blues, who were unable to get visas. Accounts vary, but it seems a new slate of 17 shows was cobbled together, five of which ended up being canceled for poor ticket sales. The tour promoter and the band’s management squabbled, and the band supposedly refused to take the stage in San Francisco. Then at a date in Sacramento, they played an extended take of “You Really Got Me” for either all or part of the set, or maybe they didn’t play in Sacramento; again, details are sketchy and contradictory. (Unrelated to the ban was the night they almost spent at the home of future serial killer John Wayne Gacy. Read our item on that here.)

There was also a backstage kerfuffle between a man who said he worked for the show and Ray Davies on the set of the Dick Clark-produced music TV show Where The Action Is. The man subjected Davies to an anti-English rant, and as Ray explains in his book X-Ray, he threatened, “‘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!’ The rest is a blur. However, I do recall being pushed and swinging a punch and being punched back.” It’s also been reported that the band never paid its American Federation of Musicians (AFM) and/or American Federation of Television and Radio Artists fees for the show… and/or other AFM fees.

“The reason we got banned was a mixture of bad agency, bad management, bad luck, and bad behavior…. So we deserved everything we got,” Davies explained. “But it got lifted four years later. We literally signed a confession – it was a confessional. We didn’t even read it.”

Watch Ray Davies talk about the ban

It did keep the band from promoting the music from one of its most creatively fertile eras – from Face to Face to Arthur – by playing live in America. Then again, by the 1980s the Kinks had risen to become an arena act in the U.S. And the whole squalid “ban” mess fits right into the group’s and Ray’s fascinating history and relationship with fame, success and the music business.

Related: About those reunion rumors…

Watch the Kinks appear on the TV music show Shindig during the ’65 tour

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5 Comments so far

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  1. Mick Rathe
    #1 Mick Rathe 17 October, 2018, 19:59

    ….And that footage from Shindig was filmed at Twickenham Studios anyway, before they went to America.

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  2. David
    #2 David 18 October, 2022, 01:09

    Interesting. I Wonder if their greater “Englishness” was a result of this ban? Would they have been so fascinated with England’s village greens if they’d spent more time on tour in the US? Those four years arguably produced their best music, so it worked out for fans!

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  3. Rob
    #3 Rob 18 October, 2022, 11:20

    I saw The Kinks at the Schaefer Music Festival (8-23-72) in New York’s Central Park and it remains one of the most memorable concerts I’ve had the pleasure of attending. I was a fan of The Kinks but unaware they’d been banned from performing in the USA. I was able to confirm the show’s date online and apparently the band Orleans was also on the bill, but I have absolutely no memory of them at all. What I do remember is how Ray Davies “owned” the stage and the band was brilliant. This took place 50 years ago…so it’s saying something that the show remains a strong memory for me. Thanks for all of your excellent articles, and the strolls down “Memory Lane”.

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    • Neil ex
      Neil ex 18 October, 2023, 07:44

      A recording of this show needs to be located and released legally to the public

      Reply this comment
  4. Lgbpop
    #4 Lgbpop 18 October, 2023, 11:23

    My first time seeing the Kinks was in 1966 when my family was on a two-week vacation in Scotland (my parents also were doing genealogical digging into my mom’s ancestors). My distant cousin Donald took (dragged) me and my sister to a place called Kelvin Hall in Glasgow and there was so much screaming from the fans which drowned out much of what the guys were singing and playing…even so, there was a certain vibe about them. Been a fan ever since. I’ve seen them 42 times since, all here in the USA.

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