John Dalton, of Beccles Public Hall bound The Kast Off Kinks, interviewed

The Kast Off Kinks' Mick Avory, Ian Gibbons, John Dalton and Dave Clarke

The Kast Off Kinks' Mick Avory, Ian Gibbons, John Dalton and Dave Clarke - Credit: Archant

Event’s Martin Hutchinson talks to John Dalton of The Kast Off Kinks.

The Kinks, with their songwriter-supreme Ray Davies, produced some of the most memorable songs of the sixties and seventies. Hits like Dedicated Follower of Fashion, Apeman, Sunny Afternoon, Waterloo Sunset, Lola and You Really Got Me ensured they spent no less than 215 weeks on the British charts – that’s just over four years.

The band had 17 top 20 hits including three number ones and during the 1970s they pioneered the art of the concept album with long-players such as Schoolboys in Disgrace and Preservation Acts One and Two.

After an on-stage “disagreement” between two of the band, The Kinks were famously banned from appearing in America for four years but once they returned they became massive and were one of the first acts to be classed as an arena rock band.

The Kinks haven’t played live since 1996, but rumours of a reunion keep surfacing and Davies appeared onstage with his brother Dave at a recent show. The band’s catalogue of hits is in good hands though, as The Kast Off Kinks constantly tour the UK playing their songs.

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But they aren’t any old tribute band, being made up - with one exception - of ex-members of the band.

It was formed in 1994 by drummer Mick Avory, who was in The Kinks from 1964-1984; singer and guitarist Dave Clarke, who was in the band Shut Up Frank with Mick; bassist John Dalton, who replaced original bassist Pete Quaife in The Kinks in 1966 and then again from 1969-1976 and keyboard player John Gosling.

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Ironically, both Johns “retired” and were replaced by the two musicians who replaced them in The Kinks – Jim Rodford and Ian Gibbons.

John Dalton was coaxed out of retirement when Jim couldn’t commit to many gigs as he is also a member of The Zombies.

John, now 72, has many memories of playing with The Kinks.

“I first joined in 1966 when Pete Quaife broke his leg. I didn’t know if I was coming or going. I auditioned one Thursday afternoon and in the evening I was with them on Top of the Pops – I didn’t know any of their numbers then. That weekend, we played a couple of concerts so I had to learn the songs in a day.”

Quaife returned to the band later in the year and when he finally left in 1969 the band contacted John again.

“When I went back to the band the American ban was lifted and we were in America a lot,” he says. “It was really good fun and we had some really good laughs. Despite all that it said in the papers, it wasn’t all about Ray and Dave fighting.”

John finally left in 1976.

“There were a number of reasons really. Firstly I didn’t think I was getting paid enough, I had three young boys at the time. Also I was away from home a lot and although Ray called me a ‘steadying influence’ I missed home.”

He then retired from music.

“I did manual work again, after all, you’ve got to feed the family.”

Then something happened that changed John’s life.

“Soon after I left The Kinks we found out my son had leukaemia and he died in 1979. I spent a lot of time at Great Ormond Street Hospital and it was an unbelievable sight seeing all these sick children with tubes coming out of everywhere just smiling at you and I decided to raise some funds.

“I contacted some of my musician friends and arranged a Leukaemia Dance – Chas and Dave also took part as they were neighbours of mine. But the band I formed for the night, which included Clem Cattini, started playing the pubs and that got me playing again.

“Then in 1993 I had my 50th birthday and about 50 musicians were there, Mick Avory – who I’d always got on with – was there with Dave Clarke and we got talking. They had just been to a Kinks’ convention and I suggested we should put a band together to play at the next one.

“Dave’s got a good voice and is a great guitarist and he sang with us at the 1994 convention. We did about half-an-hour back then – we could do about three-and-a-half-hours now. And Dave does both Ray and Dave’s parts.”

More than 20 years later and the band is still going.

“Yes, we’ve got a good thing going now. Dave and I do all the chat in the shows and it’s great to be back playing these great songs.”

But what can we expect to hear?

“Well, at a convention you have the big fans so you can play some of the album tracks, but the thing is you’ve got to play all the hits, so we do. We stick a bit of humour in too.”

At the last Kinks convention in November the band had a special guest.

“Yes, that’s right, Ray Davies got on stage and sang with us which was really special.”

And the band is getting a younger audience.

“Yes, it’s amazing to see youngsters singing along to all the songs. Mind you, the musical Sunny Afternoon is very popular and it’s helped us. The main thing,” says John, “is that you have a good night listening to the music. You’ve gotta make people happy.”

The Kast Off Kinks play Beccles Public Hall on April 16.

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