Dave Davies

Reflections From A Kink
Dave Davies
Dave Davies: Al Pereira.

Twenty-seven years after their last performance, the Kinks still command a loyal following. The 60th anniversary of this fascinating British Invasion group is celebrated on the 38-track The Journey, Part I.

But likely due to older brother Ray’s impressive songwriting, Dave Davies is too often overlooked in discussions of guitar greats, despite his versatility and the excitement he generates, as on their 1964 smash “You Really Got Me.”

He recently spoke to VG about group dynamics, early influences, and his guitars.

As Ray’s songwriting led into other styles, were there times when you thought “I can’t relate to this”?
No, I think what helped is that we grew up in a big family. We adored rock music but also pop music from different genres. My sisters used to play Perry Como and show music like “Oklahoma.” They were all a different age group, so they enjoyed music from their own “generation” if you like. Me and Ray were influenced by a host of different types of music – from Hank Williams to Elvis and Fats Domino.

Did British musicians have much impact on you?
I liked Lonnie Donegan, who was skiffle-type, blues-ish, and played a few Lead Belly songs. He was very influential. And there was Bert Weedon. Of course, growing up, I had to like the Shadows.

But there was something about American records at that time – the feeling and atmosphere. In the early days, Chuck Berry was a huge influence. The whole game changed with him, for everybody. He had that rock growl, and his playing was ahead of the game, a cut above.

I was a big fan of the Ventures. Someone told me that Don Wilson’s mother [Josie Wilson] would help them in the studio, so his rhythm guitar was really prominent. I love that.

What songs are you most proud of in terms of your guitar playing?
That’s a tough one. Obviously, “You Really Got Me,” also “The Hard Way,” “Schooldays,” “I’m In Disgrace” – lots of stuff. Each song has its own character and style and influence. When we started playing professionally, I realized that playing guitar is an arrangement thing, as well. Certain songs lend themselves to different tones. I hear a song and get a feel and vibe of how it’s going to take shape.

You’ve used many different guitars.
We had Framus guitars, and Ray had a great guitar called a Maton, kind of like a Höfner. I played a Guild Starfire, and I really liked that. I could use the Bigsby, and you could really get feedback with a guitar like that. I also had a black Guild [DE-500], but the first time we went to L.A., the airline lost it or it was stolen. That’s how I came across the Flying V. In those days, you only carried one guitar each; we didn’t have the luxury of four, five, or six each. I saw this funny looking guitar case in the back of a shop and opened it, and it was a Flying V. Then we were doing “Shindig!” and I thought it would look cool, so I put my arm through the V.

On “Dead End Street,” there’s two basses; I was on a [Hagstrom] Futurama. I liked it because it was twangy, rather than a deep bass tone. I was always a big fan for Duane Eddy, and you could get kind of a Duane sound, but tinnier.

When we were doing heavy touring in the ’80s in the U.S., I used a Fender Elite [Telecaster]. I think those pickups had a deeper tone than a regular Telecaster, so that suited me. I think they were Lace Sensor.

What about amps and effects?
One of my favorite setups was a Les Paul Special and Peavey amp, like a Twin. People don’t like Peavey, but I do. A few gigs before it blew up, it sounded the best ever – the sustain and tone. Just as it was on its way out, it was fantastic.

I got fed up with pedals, so I don’t use them too much. A phase pedal is really good. I like a deep, slow phase along with my tone.

There’s a notion that siblings are alike, and people are surprised when they aren’t.
Oh, God (laughs). That’s part of the problem. Ray is so different from me, and me him, but the mutual love has grown out of the love of music. There’s always a lot of tension between us – as people, attitudes, and ideas. I think it’s helped the Kinks’ music all the way through. We have different ways of expressing ourselves, of looking at things. That’s why there are so many arguments. “I want it this way!” “I want it that way!”

Often, we were ahead of our time, I think. Even “You Really Got Me,” people didn’t know what the hell it was. I love all of the records because they represent different times, different eras, different people. It’s like a history lesson, going through all these weird and wonderful albums. I recommend it (laughs).

This article originally appeared in VG’s August 2023 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.

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