Why were the Kinks banned from playing the United States in the ’60s?
Some things went well on the Kinks’ first American tour, in the summer of 1965: the band discovered the pleasures of pizza, malted milkshakes, and buxom groupies. But the band was in turmoil; earlier that year, guitarist Dave Davies and drummer Mick Avory had a fight onstage in Wales, which started with Davies spitting at Avory and ended with Avory hitting Davies over the head with the pedal to his high-hat cymbal. So none of the Kinks were speaking to each other, and on any given night, the band’s management wasn’t sure how the Kinks would behave: whether they would do a full show, or come to blows, or treat the audience to a 45-minute version of “You Really Got Me” (as the band’s road manager says they did on one evening, although a roadie insists they didn’t play the song for the entire show).
Although singer Ray Davies has called tales of the Kinks’ American misbehavior “character assassination, [a] plot to destroy us,” sources close to the band confirm that they found trouble wherever they went, at least some of it of their own making. The band skipped a show in Sacramento, Ray Davies punched a union official who kept insinuating that England was already as good as Communist, and they appeared on a Dick Clark special for NBC without paying their mandatory dues to the American Federation of Television and Recording Artists. The upshot was the Federation blacklisted them–although they never gave a specific reason as to why–and the Kinks could not return to the States for over four years. Years later, Davies mused, “In many respects, that ridiculous ban took away the best years of the Kinks’ career when the original band was performing at its peak.”
(Excerpted from the 2006 book Is Tiny Dancer Really Elton’s Little John?: Music’s Most Enduring Mysteries, Myths, and Rumors Revealed, published by Three Rivers Press, written by Gavin Edwards.)