The Kinks and The Beatles often played together during their early days, a time when they were placed on package line-ups across the country. However, John Lennon and Dave Davies were never the best of friends, with the latter even calling the late Beatle “paranoid”.
Despite the fact that there were vast differences between the two groups, they both played a critical role in the ‘British Invasion’, and for many, it’s still bewildering that The Kinks never managed to climb their way to a similar level of dominance as their counterparts. While they still carved out an iconic career, upon their emergence, it appeared as though they were set to become our next cultural gift to the world. However, unfortunate events during a US tour would put a stop to their trajectory across the pond.
Promotors first booked The Kinks to support The Beatles in 1964 after the success of their early singles, but their level of fame dwindled in comparison to the biggest band in the world. The group were excited beyond belief about this experience, however, things didn’t go exactly to plan, and Davies found Lennon extremely hostile.
The performance was at the Liverpool Empire, and he remembered to Classic Rock that he was “dying to see the guitars they used”. Detailing further, he continued: “We knew they were Rickenbackers. I was going to go up there and play one, but John Lennon wouldn’t let us touch anything. ‘Don’t you dare touch those!’ He was a paranoid guy, but funny”.
It wasn’t just the guitars that The Beatles had a controlling nature over, with Davies going on to add how “they were so protective of everything, with their posh suits and Beatle haircuts”.
In the years that followed that performance, both bands drink in the same establishments across London, such as the Scotch of St. James in Soho, and his relationship with Lennon remained dysfunctional. The guitarist added: “I think he liked me, mostly because he knew I didn’t give a shit. My attitude wasn’t down to inner resentment, like his was.”
Davies didn’t take Lennon’s bitter behaviour to heart and, instead, he felt that it was just a reflection of the Beatle’s unhappiness which he projected onto others. Daviescontinued: “A lot of his discontent was born from deep-rooted experience and resentment. But, unlike John, I’d had a great childhood. We were once both drunk, sitting at the table in the Scotch of St James. I’d had a few pills as well, and he couldn’t stop me talking. As I was leaving, John said to me: ‘You’re one of the most obnoxious people I’ve ever met!’ I took that as a great compliment.”
Most people were aware that Lennon was an extremely complex character. The perils of fame were something that he immensely struggled with, it occasionally led to him lashing out, as Davies wears the marks to prove it, and his anecdotes about the Beatle offer a peek behind the curtain into what the late singer was truly like.