Cain and Abel fought each other hard in the book of Genesis. One can only imagine how bad the blood woulda gotten between them if they were both in the band Genesis. Plainly, no brothers feud like bandmate brothers.
The list of great rock combos undone by brotherly hate is long and winding. Noel and Liam Gallagher of my colleague Luis’s favorite British combo Oasis would rather look back in anger at their relationship than share a stage or studio again. Only the harmonies were sweet between Phil and Don Everly of the Everly Brothers: Don famously threw off his guitar during a show and loudly disavowed all band and family ties. Rich Robinson of the Black Crowes said in a 2018 interview that he was so sick of his brother, Chris Robinson, that he was pretty sure their Southern blooze band was “in Kinks mode,” meaning they’ll never play together again. (Money, as the great philosopher Cyndi Lauper let the world know, changes everything.)
Ah, the Kinks. By far, my favorite brawling band bros are Ray and Dave Davies, who co-birthed the Kinks in 1963.
My being partial to the brothers Davies is at least partially attributable to my geezerdom. I was getting out of a crib about the time the Kinks slit a speaker cone with a blade and thereby created rock’s first fuzz tones during the recording session for “You Really Got Me,” a tune that has remained cool my whole life. Me and all the kids I knew were spelling out “L-O-L-A” while singing all the words to 1970s pop smash “Lola,” having no idea we were helping launch the LGBTQ pride movement.
Ray took solo songwriting credit for both tunes, and pretty much every other Kinks classic; Dave has spent pretty much the last half-century saying Ray stole them from him. (Dave has in turn admitted stealing a french fry off Ray’s plate as a child.)
The feud between Ray, the seventh of eight Davies kids, and Dave, the baby of the brood, is as enduring as their tunes: Ray & Dave haven’t toured or recorded together in more than 25 years. A 2014 Kinks biography boiled their relationship down to “outright warfare with periodic truces.”
The siblings’ squabble has gotten lots of media attention lately. Mostly because Dave has just put out a memoir that devotes lots of pages to Ray’s faults. From a UK review of the book, titled Living On A Thin Line (surely because that’s also the title of a rare Kinks single that Ray allowed his younger brother to take credit for writing): “Throughout the book, Davies describes Ray as uncommunicative, narcissistic, egotistical, self-obsessed, patronising; he is often dismayed that his own contribution to The Kinks’ music is downplayed or dismissed, despite his ground-breaking guitar playing being crucial to The Kinks’ sound.”
Most of the hubbub about Dave’s book, however, focuses on the portion devoted to describing that time in 1982 when his body was taken over by aliens.
Even the Drudge Report was wowed enough by Dave’s wild claims that it linked to a British tabloid’s review that was heavy with his alien reminiscences: “They told me I must not have sex and, although I was able to walk normally, my groin and pelvis suddenly became numbed, like they’d blocked any sensation down there. The reason being, they told me, was they wanted to transmute my sexual energy to a higher vibrational level.”
Entertaining as the Davies discord surely is, it’s better to listen to the band than read about ’em. So I’ll leave you with my go-to Kinks track, 1968’s “Days.” What a tune! Thank you for the days, Ray & Dave! But mostly Ray, who wrote the song, if you ask him.