Davies was responsible for the signature distorted power chord riff on The Kinks' first hit, "You Really Got Me". He achieved the sound by slitting the speaker cone on his Elpico amplifier, which he then ran through a larger Vox as a "pre-amp". This sound was one of the first mainstream appearances of guitar distortion, and it would go on to influence many guitarist in the future, especially during the Punk rock period. Davies later commented
“ I was getting really bored with this guitar sound - or lack of an interesting sound - and there was this radio spares shop up the road, and they had a little green amplifier in there next to the radios, it was an Elpico[...] I twiddled around with it and didn't know what to do[...] I started to get really frustrated, and I said, "I know! I'll fix you!" I got a single-sided Gillette razorblade and cut round the cone like this (slitting from the centre to the edge of the cone), so it was all shredded but still on there, still intact. I played and I thought it was amazing, really freaky. I felt like an inventor! We just close-miked that in the studio, and also fed the same speaker output into the AC3O, which was kind of noisy but sounded good. ”
Dave Davies, in The Guitar Magazine - January 1999
"You Really Got Me" was the group's third released single, after two unsuccessful ones that failed to chart. The single was a massive hit, topping the charts in the U.K. and reaching #7 in the U.S.
The Kinks released three albums and several EPs in the next two years. They also performed and toured relentlessly, headlining package tours with the likes of The Yardbirds and Mickey Finn, which caused tension within the band. Some legendary on-stage fights erupted during this time as well. The most notorious incident was at The Capitol Theatre, Cardiff, Wales in May 1965, involving drummer Mick Avory and Dave Davies. The fight broke out during the second number of the set, "Beautiful Delilah". It culminated with Davies insulting Avory and kicking over his drum set after finishing the first song, "You Really Got Me". Avory responded by knocking down Davies with his Hi-Hat stand, rendering him unconscious. He then fled from the scene, and Davies was taken to Cardiff Royal Infirmary, where he received 16 stitches to the head. Avory later claimed that it was part of a new act in which the band members would hurl their instruments at each other.
Davies would remain with the group as they steadily evolved, as Ray's songwriting skills developed and he began to lead the group in a whole new direction. The group would abandon the traditional R&B/Blues outfit and adopt a more nostalgic, reflective style of music, as showcased in songs like "Autumn Almanac" and "Waterloo Sunset", as well as their LP The Village Green Preservation Society.
Davies has played a number of guitars over time, the most recognizable of which is his Gibson Flying V. Davies bought it in 1965, and soon began appearing live and on TV performances with it. Davies was one of the few guitarists who played Flying Vs at the time. It was, in that period, out of issue due to lack of interest upon its 1958 test release, and models were numbered. Guitarists like Lonnie Mack, Jimi Hendrix, Albert King and Davies himself helped stir interest in the instrument, and it would eventually become one of the signature guitars of the Heavy Metal genre.
Davies would later comment on his Flying V:
“ I used to play a Guild custom built guitar and the airline lost it on our first American tour in '64 or '65. In those days I used to only carry one guitar around and I had to get a replacement quick. I went into a store and they didn't have anything I liked. I saw this dusty old guitar case and I said 'What have you got in there?' he said 'Oh, that's just some silly old guitar.' He got it out and I bought it for about $60. ”
Davies has played many other guitars throughout his career. He has played several models of Gibson Les Pauls over time, including a 1960 Goldtop and a black '78 model.
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Dave Davies (born David Russell Gordon Davies, 3 February 1947, Fortis Green, London) is an English rock musician (singer and lead guitarist), best known for his membership with the English rock band The Kinks.
In 2003, Davies was ranked 88th in Rolling Stone magazine list of the "100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time"
Davies founded The Kinks with Pete Quaife in 1963. His brother Ray, who became the best-known member and de-facto leader of the band, joined soon after. The quartet was formed when drummer Mick Avory joined. Dave Davies had a turbulent relationship with Avory, one of the reasons behind the latter's departure from the band in the mid 1980s, although the two had been roommates together in the mid 1960s.
Ray and Dave Davies would remain the only two steady members of the band (with the exception of Avory until his departure) throughout their run together, with a frequently changing roster of bassists and keyboardists. Davies played a largely subordinate role to his brother, often staying behind the scenes. Davies would make occasional contributions on Kinks records as lead vocalist and songwriter, with cases such as "Death of a Clown" and "Strangers".