So what finally ended Mick Avory’s twenty-year tenure with The Kinks? And would he and Dave Davies have killed each other if he’d lasted any longer?
It seems that the friction between the two already chronicled in a couple of bashful blogs resulted in the lead guitarist managing to oust the drummer from the band in 1984.
In X-Ray, Ray Davies remembers happier times:
‘I think back to when we were just a band in a little Bedford Dormobile, driving up and down the M1, happy to get £50 a night for playing a gig. … We were totally innocent. … Mick only wanted to do it for laughs and the girls …’
Dave concedes that ‘Mick was a very funny guy, very dry,’ a truth borne out by his address at The Kinks’ induction into the Rock’n’Roll Hall of Fame in 1990, which is typically short, sweet and humorous.
Speaking after Pete’s had his say, he clarifies the original bassist’s identity for the assembled guests,
‘OK, that was Pete Quaife. Not many people would recognise him because they always used to stick the price tag over his face on the album covers … Myself, I turned down an important engagement, a function at a golf club to be here tonight.’
By this time Mick hadn’t been in the band for six years and Pete had been notable by his absence for twenty-one.
It may seem like the fraught relations between drummer and guitarist have reconciled themselves by this stage, everyone mellowing with middle age. But in the early 1980s it was a totally different story.
Dave says of Mick in his autobiography Kink, ‘I felt his playing was getting sloppy, his manner too nonchalant. I was also becoming more and more frustrated with him as a person,’ insisting that Mick was getting abrasive and arrogant.
They continue to rub each other up the wrong way until, after one narrowly aborted punch-up, Dave says, ‘I remember looking over at Mick after the outburst and thinking to myself, ‘That’s it, Mick, it’s over.’
This leads him to suggest to Ray that The Kinks try Bob Henrit, who’d worked on Dave’s solo material, on a few tracks. Ray agreed, perhaps knowing that this concession wouldn’t be sufficient to placate his brother.
The ‘pretty fragile’ relationship between drummer and guitarist couldn’t have been helped by this development, and ultimately precipitated Mick’s departure, though it seems it fell to Ray to do the dirty work. Ray describes the tragically poetic denouement of the long battle of attrition:
‘The saddest day for me was when Mick left. Dave and Mick just couldn’t get along. There were terrible fights, and I got to the point where I couldn’t cope with it any more. Push came to shove, and to avoid an argument I couldn’t face … we were doing a track called “Good Day” and I couldn’t face having Mick and Dave in the studio, so I did it with a drum machine. Dave said he wanted to replace Mick, and [...] I took Mick out, and we got very, very drunk. We were in Guildford, and after about five pints of this wonderful scrumpy, Mick said if any other band offered him a tour, he wouldn’t take it, because he didn’t want to tour. And I remember him getting the train back – because he was banned from driving; it was a very bad year for Mick – and he walked to the station and disappeared into the mist.’
Dave seems to have been conflicted, however, as he avers, ‘I love Mick, he has always been like a brother to me.’ So, having finally got his way, it’s good to know that ‘Some time after he left we became good friends again.’
But I somehow doubt whether this is still the case.
Because, although this is purely hearsay and I have no evidence to support it (but I love to listen to idle gossip when out and about and promulgate it to foment contention), it seems as though relations hadn’t really improved much between the two old band-mates by the time of Dave’s last solo tour of the US. I heard from an unspecified source that Dave had taken legal action to prevent the Kast Off Kinks from using that name when touring across the water at the same time as him.
If true, and I’m hoping to be corrected, it bespeaks either a continuing enmity on Dave’s part or just simply massive insecurity. How could Dave imagine the Kast Offs’ tour would have any impact on his own ticket sales? To stop them touring under that name seems unaccountably vindictive or worryingly paranoid, perhaps underestimating his own status, not to mention his talent and credibility as an artist.
Or is it the case that Dave took a stand on the name issue because it was something that brother Ray implicitly endorsed, even sometimes joining Mick’s ensemble on stage, as did Pete Quaife on occasion? Maybe Dave should have taken the high road and given his erstwhile colleagues his blessing rather than hit below the belt with some faintly unchivalrous legal salvo? He must surely have appreciated the deleterious effects such a stance could have on his relationship with Mick and, perhaps because he has no intention of ever playing with him again, not have cared.
It seems such a shame because, when you meet them, they’re both so personable and approachable that it’s hard to believe they wouldn’t automatically get on with each other. But I guess there’s too much painful history there for it all to be water under the bridge to them, like the fans feel it should be. It’s left a residue of resentment that’s hard for either to swallow, unfortunately for us.
The friction between Dave and Mick may represent another obstacle to any reunion but perhaps not the major one, as the Davies brothers fail to find any common ground, with Dave dead-set against the idea while Ray still holds out some hope.
In the Daily Star in August 2012, Ray affirms, ‘I still carry The Kinks in my mind and Mick Avory is a very good friend of mine.’
Mick Avory was replaced as drummer in The Kinks by Bob Henrit in 1984. The Kinks broke up altogether twelve years later in 1996, though the question of who or what was the catalyst for that remains debatable. Dave has publicly attributed (on Facebook) the band’s demise to older brother Ray, who basically left the band to pursue solo projects.
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