Rock Legend Rocks Common Grounds

By Ben Soman

The Sabre - October 12, 1999

"You don't mind if I tune my guitar while we do this?" Of course not, you're a rock legend. Former Kinks guitarist Dave Davies was good enough to grant an interview to our editor Chris and me after his private sound check on Wednesday afternoon at the Todd Wehr Alumni Center.

Sound check was closed to the public. Only a few technicians and workers were allowed to be inside Common Grounds while Davies tuned his guitars and checked the microphones. In all, the sound check lasted about 45 minutes while Chris and I were left to wait outside on the brisk fall afternoon. Dozens of people tried to enter but were turned away by people watching the door. When it was finally over, we got to meet the legend.

Mike Kraus introduced us to Davies in his impromptu dressing room, where we sat down for the interview. My first question was one that I think everyone was wondering: Why was this quirky English rocker performing at Marian? Davies went on to explain that Kraus has been a Kinks fan for decades and they had casually met at concerts a few times about ten or fifteen years ago. They gradually began to develop a friendship, and a few years ago came up with the idea of playing in Fond du Lac. There were plans for a concert over last summer, but they fell through because of Davies's touring schedule with his band, Dave Davies and his Kinks Kronikles.

They then concocted the idea for a solo concert at the coffeehouse. Davies said that Common Grounds was a perfect place to try playing as a solo artist with acoustic and electric guitars and let him talk about music and his life.

I asked the Rock and Roll Hall-of-Famer what some of his early influences were, and he began to list names faster than I could write. Eddie Cochran was the biggest. Of course, Elvis, Perry Como, Big Bill Broonzy, Chuck Berry, Frank Sinatra and Buddy Holly and the Crickets, to name a few. Duane Eddy was a big influence as an instrumental guitar player, also. Davies still listens to new music today, saying that he enjoys everything from Sugar Ray to Pearl Jam to the Smashing Pumpkins. He said that he "really likes Radiohead" and noted some of their influences. He also said that he likes the way that bands like Korn meld metal and rap together in a powerful way. He went on to say, "Good rock music always tends to be around." Davies also said during the concert that he has gotten into classical music, too.

The concert was supposed to start at nine, but like all great performers, Davies made the crowd wait for a few minutes to build the anticipation. When Mike Kraus took the stage to introduce him, Davies quietly slipped in and began walking through the many college students who got there too late to get a seat. No one thought anything of it, and most people probably thought he was just another fan who had come to see him.

He took the stage and went into the only song from his playlist that I knew, "You Really Got Me." It was a little lacking because it was only played with one guitar, but just the sight of him playing was exciting. I mean, this guy invented the power chord, which transformed rock music into what it is today.

After "You Really Got Me," the easy-going Davies picked up his acoustic guitar and started to tell stories and recollect his life. Even though I had never heard them and he only played a couple handfuls of songs, I had to admit I liked the acoustic songs more than the electric. Some were pretty funny, while others were fairly dark, but overall, it was entertaining. The Brit read from his autobiography in between songs, sometimes mumbling and using words that an American college student wouldn't understand. Every once and a while the stories dragged on a bit too long, but then he would lose his train of thought or his place in the book and he would make a joke about himself.

And that's what the whole show was about. Dave Davies wanted to try something experimental that he had never done before, and he did it. His die-hard fans cheered him on almost religiously, while some college kids gained a better understanding of life in the sixties, fame and rock-and-roll.

Davies splits his time between his homes in London and Los Angeles. He has studios in both cities where he and other artists record. He spends much of his time with some of his eight children and has been working on projects with three of his sons. Davies also has a new CD coming out, which is only available on his web page, He and his band will be touring the West Coast and "out east" later this year.

By Ben Soman - The Sabre, October 12, 1999

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