You mention that, during a period when drummer Mick Avory was on the outs with the band, demos were recorded with Mitch Mitchell. Have you heard these demos?
No, I haven’t. I wonder if they still exist. If I they do, I would love to hear them. I have a feeling that Mitchell’s drumming might be very tame to what we heard when he played with Hendrix. On the Hendrix records, he’s such a busy drummer, unlike Avory. I think if he had ever joined the Kinks Ray might not have appreciated the drummer that Mitchell evolved into.
The onstage fight between Dave and Mick in 1965 is legendary, and it’s fully described in the book. There seems to be some basic incompatibility between the two of them, despite the fact that they spent many years in the same band. Dave’s refusal to play with Mick was both the cause of Bob Henrit joining the Kinks in the late ’80s, and it’s also one of the bones of contention that thwarted recent attempts at reuniting the original four Kinks. What’s the problem there? Is it personal or musical?
It’s hard to say how much of the Dave-Avory dispute is musical or personal. It’s some strange combination. Dave prefers the bigger, hard-rocking drum sound of Henrit, the kind that plays better in arenas. Avory was always more subtle. But Dave always thought of Avory as Ray’s guy, Ray’s ally. In band disputes, it seemed to Dave, Avory would just tacitly go along with Ray. That irritated Dave to no end.
In the 4th chapter you give some background on the legendary union problems that caused the Kinks to be banished from the US for several years in the late ’60s. It’s not greatly detailed, but it’s certainly more information than I’ve ever read before about the matter. Do you think you got to the bottom of the matter?
No, I don’t know if we can ever get to the bottom of that issue. The truth is that the Kinks caused a number of problems with promoters and producers on that tour. There were several complaints against them. In the letter rejecting their request for work visas, no specific details were given. I do think that the union wanted to make an example of the Kinks. The Beatles were too big and the Stones too cooperative. The union didn’t like these English bands coming over to America and taking work away from their membership, especially if these visitors weren’t going to behave. The English musicians union did something similar in the 1930s when they banned American jazz musicians from playing in England. That ban was in effect until 1957. The unions saw the bans as a way to protect their membership.