Dave Davies Credit: Steve Hockstein/Harvard Studio.com

Whenever folks discuss the great guitarists of the British Invasion, names such as Eric Clapton, George Harrison, and Pete Townshend reliably come up, but one rocker always seems to get short shrift: Dave Davies of the Kinks. I’d argue that Davies is the most influential of them all. The Kinks tunes “You Really Got Me” and “All Day and All of the Night” were the garage-band shots heard around the world—the simple but urgent riffage and lustful, sweaty teenage lyrics were clumsily copied in a million basements by 60s teens while the Beatles were still making jangly pop music and singing about holding hands. Davies’s raw, overdriven ax tone basically signaled the primordial dawn of heavy rock way back in 1964, which should be enough to earn him a place in power-chording history. Dave’s brother Ray, Kinks singer and rhythm guitarist, got most of the songwriting attention in the group, as his multifaceted tales broke new ground in their sophistication. But Dave’s tunes were just as essential and kept the Kinks’ rock edge strong. The ode to teenage isolation “I’m Not Like Everybody Else” has been covered by countless groups who’ve homed in on its ominous, angsty vibe; “Susannah’s Still Alive” proved him capable of writing hits with bouncy jubilance; “Death of a Clown” shows his knack for creating catchy, bittersweet chamber pop. The two Davies brothers famously did not get along, which kept the Kinks apart for decades after their split in 1996. In 2018, they reportedly got together to begin work on a new studio album, but for the time being at least, the only way to see them play these days is to catch each of them solo. In a live setting, Ray tends to sit and tell stories between bits of acoustic songs, whereas Dave knows his status as a rawk god and continues to stake his claim with Flying V in hand (though when I saw him at the Abbey Pub ages back, he’d tamed his guitar tone a bit, making it a bit slicker a la ZZ Top’s Eliminator). Last year, Dave Davies’s sons unearthed some demos their dad had recorded at Konk Studios in the 70s, which were released as Decade. Though that album sadly features spanking-new overdubs, Davies continues to shine as a multihued songwriter on melancholic tracks such as “Cradle to the Grave,” with its last-call-at-the-bar, scratchy-voiced Faces vibe. According to recent set lists, he tends to play Kinks classics rather than his recently unearthed solo material, but it’s a small miracle that he’s out there on the road at all—he suffered a stroke in 2004 and spent years recovering from its effects. Go see this living legend now, and pray that full Kinks reunion is still on its way.   v