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51 Years Ago: The Kinks Play Their First Show

Keystone/Hulton Archive, Getty Images

On Feb. 1, 1964, the Kinks made their official debut. The concert, held at the Town Hall in Oxford, was the first time brothers Ray and Dave Davies took the stage with Mick Avory and Pete Quaife as the Kinks after ditching their earlier moniker, the Ravens.

Avory had only just arrived a few days before the gig, having replacing Micky Willet. “I actually joined the band through putting an ad in Melody Maker as a drummer seeking a rhythm and blues band,” Avory told the Kast Off Kinks website in 2009, “I went for an audition and they were playing the stuff I liked.” The actual ad from the Jan. 25, 1964 edition read, “Drummer. Young, good kit, read, seeks pro-R&B groups.”

“He was the best drummer we’d seen,” recalled Dave Davies in his autobiography ‘Kink,’ “but I didn’t have a gut feeling he was the right guy. The pressure was mounting to do stuff, and he looked good, he was a nice guy and played well.”

That evening, the band were opening for R&B ravers the Downliners Sect. The venue itself had only recently begun to host rock and roll shows, with the Rolling Stones performing there a month prior. According to the Doug Hinman book ‘The Kinks: All Day And All Of The Night,’ the show was very sparsely attended, with the bulk of the audience made up by members of area bands.

One week later, the Kinks made their debut on British television, singing ‘Long Tall Sally’ on the legendary ‘Ready, Steady Go!’

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