The Kinks Kronicles -- The Work in Trying to Meet one of my Favorite Bands

I went from being a DJ at a classic rock station, to being a writer. One of the first editors I had had to keep reminded me that when I talk about bands, others won’t know the songs or musicians the way I do. So before I start this story on my quest to get all of The Kinks signatures, here’s a list of their songs that you might know: Lola, You Really Got Me, Tired of Waiting, All Day and All the Night, Destroyer, Dedicated Follower of Fashion, Sunny Afternoon, Come Dancing, Till the End of the Day, Don’t Forget to Dance, Living on a Thin Line, and the funniest Christmas song ever – Father Christmas.

They’re one of those ‘60s bands I love (and they’re now also in their 60s!)

The first time I got an autograph from a member of the group was about 20 years ago. Guitarist Dave Davies was at a small club, and he signed an album as he was leaving the venue (it’s a very sloppy D.D. that he usually does).

Of course, the album wasn’t complete without his brother – singer and perhaps greatest songwriter ever -- Ray Davies.

I had no idea that when I was in New Orleans for an event (and hanging out with Jim Belushi, who was at the party), that right around the corner would be Ray Davies. Yet I didn’t have any of my Kinks stuff with me. I still ran around looking for him, because I wanted to say hello. I never found him, but somebody with a gun did. They tried to take the purse of the woman that he was with. He gave chase and was shot. Yikes! I immediately thought of The Kinks song (Wish I Could Fly Like) Superman.

A few years later, he played a venue in San Diego that’s perfect for autographs. There’s a coffee shop next to the backstage area, so I bought a bunch of pastries, some hot cocoa, and waited (so tired, tired of waiting…tired of waiting for youuuuu).

Oh, there was something else I did in preparation. I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again. SHOW THE ARTIST YOU ARE A FAN! The number one thing that kills autograph signing for these people is if they peg you as an autograph dealer that’s going to run to eBay. I saw Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull turn people down mentioning eBay, and so many others.

The last time I got turned down when I shouldn’t have, was Don Felder of The Eagles. This is the guy that wrote Hotel California. I have a Hotel California tour shirt, but couldn’t find it. So what happens outside the House of Blues? He sees me standing there, with two other fans, and says “I’m not signing now. I’ll sign before the show.”

The weirdest thing was walking 8 blocks to my car, and seeing him inside the taxi at each stop light. I was tempted to walk up and say “Come on, the light is red. Just sign!”

Even more frustrating is the albums were signed by a few of the other band members. Nothing more painful and incomplete than looking at those and being so close (side note: my friend that went to the show that night said he did sign for the 10 fans before he went in. At least he didn’t lie).

But this is about Kinks, not Eagles! It’s amazing to me that The Eagles are so much more popular, and not nearly as good.

Ray Davies had a record come out weeks earlier. I went and plopped down $20 for the new CD. I wore my Kinks shirt, and made sure HIS BRAND NEW SOLO CD was the first one on my stack.

He got out of the town car, I called him over, and he was super sweet. He signed that CD, as well as two Kinks CDs, and two Kinks albums (I had more, but they stayed at home; really…don’t ever go for too many; that turns them off, too). I told him I loved the album cover of Give the People What They Want (he’s running on it, after spray painting a wall). He said “I was running then, and haven’t stopped yet.”

The best moment was me telling Ray I loved the song Waterloo Sunset and how it was among one of the best ballads ever written. He smiled and said I was too young to know the song. I told him to play it that night. He said it wasn’t on their set list but he’d try. And he did! The funniest thing was the next night at his show in L.A. I wasn’t there (I’m not that much of a fan), but a review of the concert stated “It’s a shame that Ray Davies didn’t play Waterloo Sunset, when he performed it the night before in San Diego.”

Yep. Because of me!! Hahahahah. But back to the autographs.

So, I had an album signed by Dave and Ray Davies. I then looked up the rest of the band members. Turns out bassist Peter Quaife was writing childrens books in Canada. I contacted him, and we had many great conversations over the internet. He told me he was going to travel for a few months and when he got back I could send him the items I wanted signed.

Here’s the problem with that. I once sent a photo to actress Kathy Moriarty. It was signed by Robert De Niro, and was from one of the best movies of the 80s – Raging Bull. It never got sent back to me, and I learned a very valuable lesson. Do not send anything in the mail that you might not get back. That means – forget about trying to complete your American Graffiti or Woodstock album, or sending that team photo to one of the Dodgers. And I’ve told this story before, but I’ll tell it again. When I was waiting for an autograph from Mark Knopfler (Dire Straits), a collector from L.A. told me about how he sent an 8x10 photo to Yogi Berra. What he got in return was an all-star team photo, and it was not only signed by Yogi Berra, but 20 other Hall of Famers. He realized…somebody that sent that picture must’ve got his 8x10 of Berra, while he got this all-star photo – now worth thousands, as compared to his $50 Berra photo (not that values should matter – we’re fans, right? We aren’t selling this stuff).

So, the point being – had I worn my Hotel California, Felder would’ve signed. He wrote that friggin’ song, how could he not? Had I not sent that photo in the mail, I’d have a cool Robert De Niro photo. And because I wore the shirt, bought the new CD, I got Ray Davies signature.

I wasn’t about to risk sending these items to their original bass player, and possibly never get them back. Especially sending them to another country.

Then on June 26, 2010 – he died! Liver failure. So that opportunity was lost.

I did get another long-time bassist for The Kinks – Jim Rodford. He signed one of my CDs and albums, when he was touring with Argent (Rod Argent and their singer, Colin Burnstone, are great signers and have great stories to tell).

Now, here’s what happened with guitarist Dave Davies. He was supposed to do a show in San Diego – but it got cancelled when he had a stroke. Years went by, and now he’s touring again.

My friend tried talking me into going to a show an hour north (San Juan Capistrano, the Coachhouse). I didn’t go, since he’d be playing in San Diego at the County Fair a few days later. My buddy told me he had a female manager working the merch booth. She was being very friendly, and he asked if Dave would come out and sign after the show. She said “You never know, just stick around and see.”

He told her “I’m a teacher and work early in the morning, and have to drive an hour and a half to get home. I don’t want to stick around if he’s not a good signer.”

She merely smiled.

After the show, he waited for 45 minutes. He finally came out of his dressing room, and as he approached my friend and five others waiting, she stepped between them saying “He’s not going to sign, get out of here!” She kept doing this, even as Dave was trying to reach for pens. Nobody got a signature. I figured I’d be s*** out of luck in a few days.

The concert was great, even though you could tell the stroke affected his vocals a bit.

I only brought one album, and as I approached him when he got off the stage, that women left her area at the merch booth and grabbed his arm. She told us to “Get out of here!!!” He waved, and gave us the thumbs up. A guy next to me was bummed. He had a program from decades earlier when The Kinks played at SDSU that was also signed by Ray Davies.

The few other fans that wanted autographs walked away angry. I told this guy “Let’s go run over there.”

We ran around the other side of this building, and sure enough – he and the rest of the band came out. I asked for an autograph, and the woman yelled at him “Do not sign for that guy!” She was pointing directly at me. I had no clue what that was all about. During his concert, she was running through the crowd sticking her hand in front of any camera that was taking a photo. One time she said “This is copyright infringement. Stop shooting!”

What does she think a person can do with the photo of a 66-year-old guitarist from a band most people under 25 don’t even know?

I wasn’t taking any photos, but she probably just hated the fact that I was standing around with an album in my hand (also a big no-no…draws too much attention to yourself).

I finally ran down this long corridor. I felt silly, as they could see me running through the chain link fence. I got to the bottom, and was pointing at my Kinks shirt. I said “Come on, Dave. I’m a huge fan, even wore my shirt.”

He started to reach for the pen, and she’s grabbing his arm with all her might telling him not to sign. I pleaded “It’s just not complete without Ray and Jim.”

He said “I’ll sign for this guy.” She yelled (as two other people approached, including the guy with the program), “Only sign one for this guy, and that’s it.”

The guy with the program kept begging, and he eventually got it signed, but she started pushing the other few fans away, and they didn’t get an autograph. It was all so bizarre.

I went on to his website that night and midnight and looked – yep. Just as I suspected. They sell autographed DVDs and CDs there (some were $28, and one DVD and CD combo were $24, but said “while supplies last” regarding the signed copies). Perhaps she figured him signing in person would cut down on what fans buy online. Either way, it’s really bad form. It’s one thing if there are 200 fans and you’re going to stand there all night when you’d prefer going back to the hotel and chilling or grabbing dinner. But when there are a few people, you sign the autographs, listen to the same stories you’ve heard from fans a million times, and everybody thanks everybody else.

I sent a message to him on the website that it makes bad business sense, and I’d never buy any product Dave Davies sells ever again. That could be music, a concert ticket, T-shirts. I hope you all do the same, but if you’re a hardcore fan and there’s no other way for you to get a signed item – go check out his website.

Stay tuned next week, when I tell you about how I chased down all The Rolling Stones!

(that’s what we call in this business “a tease.” It’s also…uh…complete BS).

Views: 1230

Tags: ", Argent, Dave Davies, Dire Straits, Don Felder, Ian Anderson, Jethro Tull, Kathy Moriarty, Mark Knopfler, Ray Davies, More…Robert De Niro, Rod Argent, The Eagles, The Kinks, Yogi Berra

Comment by roger epperson on June 14, 2013 at 10:45am

Josh,

I have to agree that they are one of the best bands ever!  Muskwell Hillbilly and Skin and Bone are two of my all time favorites along with Celluloid Hereos.  I saw them about 4 times from 1979-1994 and would always say they were one of the best party/dance bands you could ever meet.  I did a chance to rack the whole band when they reformed for the Rock and Roll HOF concert in Cleveland in I believe 1995.  I was at the airport very early after the show and they were catching a flight to Canada, the whole band!  They were all sitting around Ray and Dave were on other sides of the room and signed about 5 albums for me including "Low Budget" which the the tour I first saw them on.  Thanks for bringing them up as they get so forgotten.

Comment by Dan Gregory on June 15, 2013 at 1:43am

Waterloo Sunset is an amazing song.

Comment by Josh Board on June 15, 2013 at 11:41am

Thanks for posting, Roger. I got the Low Budget album completely signed, but bought it in an auction years ago for $250. Love those songs you mentioned. Celluloid Heroes is one of my favorites, along with Suzannah's Still Alive, Death of a Clown, Where Have all the Good Times Gone, Apeman (used to start a Robin WIlliams movie once, and being the only good thing about the movie), and I have fond memories of Come Dancing, because it was great when MTV started, these older bands could make it on with new songs!

Here's a question I have for you though, Roger. Don't you feel odd with 5 albums? You can always see that one band member roll their eyes, or one say "Oh, we'll see these on eBay tomorrow," and then you have to tell them how much you love Skin and Bone, or Preservation Society album, or whatever. It's all so odd to me, especially as a 43-year-old! If you're 12, no biggie. I feel so weird with multiple items.

Comment by Darren Ruskin, III on June 16, 2013 at 3:18am

Funny you mention this, a mate of mine on the east coast told me this bird was doing the same thing there as well. At least she is consistent with her hatred. Dave was always great about signing pre-stroke. Maybe that has something to do with it as well (do the signatures look different than they did before the stroke?) They do not get their due in the States, but back in the UK the Kinks are a national treasure and beloved just as the The Who, Stones, Beatles, and Cream. VGPS is one of the often overlooked musical masterpieces of the sixties...D

Comment by roger epperson on June 17, 2013 at 10:17am

Josh,

this was over 20 years ago and Ebay hadn't really started yet.  They were happy that fans were there to ask them for autographs.  I would always get things signed until I ran out or they quit signing.  I took no offense either way. 

Since Darren chimed in I will share a Camden Town story;

I caught a bus to Camden Town about 25 years ago from St John's Wood to go to the flea market there on a Sunday.  When I jumped off the bus I saw Ray Davies jump out of a car and dash into a book store on the main drag.  I went over and saw he was doing a book signing for X-Ray in about an hour.  I went to the used record store across the street and bought the 5 Kinks albums they had and he signed them all for me.  That was a cool day for sure.

Comment by Nickolas Tsui on June 18, 2013 at 6:26pm

Great story Josh! It really sucks when it comes down to that kinda breaking point though. His manager is who you're probably referring to. I write for an online arts and entertainment magazine. We got to do an interview with him in Massachusetts and she was pretty rough. She hit our photographer/digital media editor with a riding crop! Dave was cool as f*** though. I don't know what kinda match made in heaven they were (it actually reminds me of Hubert Sumlin and his manager. He was a total sweetheart but she was just a raging c*nt) but we got to sit and chat with him for like 20 minutes. I was on assignment that night so I couldn't get anything signed, but Dave agreed he's sign for me the next night in CT and he did =) 

If you wanna read the article, it's here: http://howlmag.com/index.php/music/351-father-of-distortion

Comment by Josh Board on June 18, 2013 at 11:44pm

Dang it!! All these Kink stories...make me wish I had more pieces signed by them.

Comment by ms boods on June 19, 2013 at 8:48am

I see you had the wonderful opportunity to meet Kate; she was treating the fans exactly the same way ten years ago. I knew club owners who wouldn't have Dave back because of the sh1tty way she treated them, let alone the fans. I've seen people leave his shows in tears because of her -- please don't let that affect your feelings for Dave -- he's incredibly nice, and before she became his 'manager' he'd do meet and greets and sign until his arm fell off. Sigh.

Comment by ms boods on June 19, 2013 at 8:56am

Nickolas -- your tale made me laugh, I must confess. I've seen her shove fans out of the way, slam doors in their faces. All the yelling and screaming at fans -- exactly the same as it was in the few years before he had his stroke. I went with a friend up to Camden Town to see him some years back now, and she'd put my friend on the door (he's known Dave for years), and deliberately added on the note NO PLUS ONE because she knew I was with him! After the show, she called my friend over to the dressing room, saying, 'Hallo, you! Come on over -- no not YOU!!!' the latter directed at me, and was screaming for security to throw me out of the building (they didn't). The funny thing is that night John Dalton, another former bassist for the Kinks, was in attendance: she let him backstage and literally shoved his wife to one side when she started to walk alongside her husband, screaming at poor Mrs Dalton, 'Not you! Not you!' Very strange woman.

Comment by Nickolas Tsui on June 25, 2013 at 6:07am

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