Rock music history is strewn with tales of legendary fights among band members. Some are serious such as the legal war between Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters and David Gilmour or the bust-up between The Beach Boys’ Mike Love and, well, almost everyone, but especially Brian Wilson. At the same time, others are mostly a tiff involving creative differences or a dispute over a girl. These fights often explored the love-hate relationship of the members, exemplary among which are Mick Jagger-Keith Richards’ and Dave Davies-Mick Avory’s.
The Kinks were, in fact, popular for their unconventional public display of hatred. Typically, these fights were almost always alcohol-fuelled. One such incident took place when the group was performing at Cardiff’s Capital Theatre in 1965. Ray Davies narrated the incident to Wales Online during a 2010 interview.
According to Ray, Avory was brewing with anger after Ray’s brother Dave Davies insulted him a night before the incident, under the influence of alcohol and Avory was waiting for the right moment to seek revenge. Overlooking Avory’s grudge, Davies took a dig at him again the next night, unaware of the danger yet to come.
After performing two songs at the Capital Theatre, Davies turned back and told the drummer, “Why don’t you get your cock out and play the snare with it? It’ll probably sound better.” Tempted by this lucid remark Avory plunged from his seat in a flash and knocked Davies down with a punch. Taken by surprise, Davies’ frail effort to defend himself failed. Once everyone overcame the wave of shock, they found Davies lying unconscious on the stage amidst the confusion. He was immediately rushed to the Cardiff Royal Infirmary where he got sixteen stitches for his wound.
Meanwhile, thinking that he had committed murder, Avory rushed out of the venue and hid. The police dragged him out of his hiding place in no time. When Avory denied the entire incident on being questioned by the police, the cops reminded him that it was no use lying as hundreds of audiences were there as witnesses.
However, Davies dropped all the charges against Avory if not out of consideration then for the sake of the band’s future. Though the personal tensions were smoothed out, the band suffered at a professional level. Because of their notorious record, the American Federation of Musicians banned the group from touring the United States for four years following the Capital Theatre incident. As a result, the group couldn’t get a grip on North America for as long as they performed together.
As Ray Davies regrettably stated, “In many respects, that ridiculous ban took away the best years of the Kinks’ career when the original band was performing at its peak. We came about in the first days after Beatlemania, got chased everywhere we went and had to have police escorts to and fro…I never even heard a note we played for a long time, the crowd’s screaming was always so loud. We were battlers. But the very thing that makes a band special is what ultimately causes it to break up. What made our music interesting ended up being the very thing that destroyed it.”
It is funny that Ray should blame this solely on his brother and Avory as he was equally responsible for the band’s scandalous status. The two brothers had an intense relationship from their childhood which included incidents such as Ray jumping on Dave’s birthday cake out of jealousy or Ray sticking a fork into Dave’s hand in a fit of anger: “I stole a French fry from his plate, and he stabbed a fork into my hand.” If not as explicitly as before, the two spent their careers quarrelling enough to catch the public eye.