Ray and Dave Davies had six older siblings and they were all girls. It’s been suggested that their famous rivalry was due to their attempts to win the favour of all their older sisters, as well as their parents. They were born in 1944 and 1947, respectively, and grew up in a road called Fortis Green, between East Finchley and Muswell Hill in North London, though the actual address of the house is 6 Denmark Terrace.
Ray has written especially evocatively of life in London in ‘Waterloo Sunset’ and ‘London Song’, among others, while Dave released an album called ‘Fortis Green’ in 1999. Ray and his first wife Rasa had their first home nearby at 4 Tetherdown in the 1960s, and later moved to 87 Fortis Green. He lived in the US for a while but today lives in Highgate, only a few miles from his birthplace.
The Clissold Arms is just over the road to their childhood home, and it had been frequented by their dad. This pub was the site of the first ever gig by Ray and Dave in 1960. The room you enter from the front door is called The Kinks Room, and it’s an Aladdin’s Cave of Kinks memorabilia. The last time the band got together in public was for Dave’s 50th birthday party in 1997, which was fittingly held at the Clissold.
If you’re up that way and want to see where Ray and Dave went to school, turn right outside the pub and after three minutes, take a left into Twyford Avenue. Apart from the Davies brothers, future Kinks bass guitarist Pete Quaife also attended William Grimshaw School in Twyford Avenue, now known as Fortismere School, though all of the school buildings have been replaced since those days.
In the finest rock and roll tradition, Dave was expelled from the school. Another pupil at the same school was Rod Stewart, but he never enjoyed himself there much, partly because it was so far from his home in Archway Road. Rod left school in summer 1960, but in early 1962 he performed at least one gig as vocalist for the Ray Davies Quintet, which included Ray, Dave and Pete, as well as school mate John Start. They’d played a successful gig at a school dance that had encouraged them to continue to play live.
Their eponymous debut album was recorded at Pye Studios in Great Cumberland Place/Bryanston Street, near Marble Arch, but their breakthrough single ‘You Really Got Me’ was made at IBC Studios at 35 Portland Place in July 1964, after the group weren’t happy with the original Pye recording of the song a month earlier. The follow up number one ‘All Day and All of the Night’ was also done at Pye in September 1964, as was all the rest of their work up to and including ‘Arthur (Or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire)’ in 1969.
‘The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society’, released in late 1968, was the last album to be made by the original quartet as bassist Pete left afterwards. ‘Lola versus Powerman and the Moneyground, Part One’ was recorded at Morgan Studios, 169-171 Willesden High Road in 1970, and, of course, it contains another classic single, ‘Lola’. ‘Percy’ (1971), ‘Muswell Hillbillies’ (1971) and ‘Everybody’s in Show Business’ (1972) were also recorded at Morgan. The cover photo for ‘Muswell Hillbillies’ was shot in a large pub called the Archway Tavern, which is a couple of minutes from Archway tube station. They made the black and white promo film to ‘Dead End Street’ in Little Green Street, Kentish Town in 1966, being portrayed as undertakers. Apparently, the BBC considered this to be in bad taste, but it can be viewed on YouTube.
Konk Studios was set up by the Kinks and at 84-86 Tottenham Lane, Hornsey. They began working there in 1973 with ‘Preservation: Acts 1 and 2’ and continued until the breakup of the band in 1996, so the albums recorded there include ‘Sleepwalker’ (1977), ‘Misfits’ (1978), ‘Give the People What They Want’ (1981) and ‘State of Confusion’ (1983). Probably the most famous song from this period was the big 1982 hit ‘Come Dancing’. Other top acts such as Steve Winwood, Elvis Costello and Big Country also recorded there, and many other tracks were mixed there, including two from Massive Attack’s ‘Blue Lines’. The studio was managed by Kinks drummer Mick Avory after he left the band in 1984 due to his antagonistic relationship with Dave Davies.
The Kinks also made many recordings in London for the BBC. ‘The Kinks At The BBC – Radio & TV Sessions And Concerts: 1964-1994’, a five CD and one DVD collection was released in 2012.
The Kinks performed in London many times, of course. A recording of a concert at the Rainbow in Finsbury Park on 24th December 1977 is available on the Concert Vault site. They appeared several times at what we used to called the Empire Pool, Wembley and at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane. At the end of a show at the now-demolished White City Stadium in July 1973, Ray announced his retirement and afterwards had to be hospitalized following a drug overdose. On 18 December 2015, Ray joined Dave onstage at the Islington Assembly Hall in London to perform ‘You Really Got Me’ – so who knows? Maybe we’ll see some Kinks concerts again one day…
Ian Mole is a teacher of English to overseas students and a walking tour guide in London, specializing in music-related tours.