It was about three weeks ago that three different people called me and told me that Dave Davies, lead guitarist of the Kinks, would be performing at Big Ed's on Fourth Street in Reno, Nevada. The next day I buzzed over to Big Ed's in the 'Sunny Afternoon' E-Type (it has 'SNYAFTN' on the license plates) to get the tickets for the show. Big Ed's is a sort of cool/anticool bar/club where people drop in to drop out, as it were, where food is also served. The tickets were $40 and there would only be 75 sold. Looking around, I wondered where the band would play in this tiny place. "Those tables in the front corner along the front will be moved." One side of the corner consisted of the large picture window that fronted on the sidewalk. It would be a lot different than seeing the Kinks at the Cow Palace or the Concord Pavilion. "You had better get your tickets soon. This show will sell out." I bought them immediately. "The show starts at 9:00 o'clock, but if you want a good seat, get here by 7:30 and eat dinner."
I had heard this rumour that Dave Davies had owned a Jaguar or two Jaguars in the 1960's. I had been told by Sue at the 'Dave Davies Shrine' that in fact, one of them was a blue roadster-like the one I now drove. Perhaps if I parked it right in front of the entrance, Dave Davies might notice it and be intrigued and so forth... At least it would be the meeting of two icons of the Sixties.
On Saturday Cheryl came over to go to the show with me and I went down my checklist: camera, "Kink" by Dave Davies, and the car. I did not think to bring a copy of the 1995 program from 'A Day on the Village Green'. Since 1985 the Reno Jaguar club has put on an annual all British car meet in Reno. As first chairman of the event (and given the responsibility to get it off the ground) instead of calling it the 'first annual concours' or car meet, I named it after the Kinks nostalgic/preservationist minded album "The Village Green Preservation Society." and gave the event a strong British theme to go along with the cars- bangers and ale, the Sierra Nevada Cricket Club one year, a British costume contest another. If one is going to save old British cars, one should probably save and cherish Wedgwood china, Tudor houses, little shops and antique tables as well, as so aptly described in 'The Village Green Preservation Society' album. This oversight would haunt me later.
At 7:05 pm Cheryl and I pulled up in front of Big Ed's on Fourth Street. Even if "there's a plane flying overhead,*" the curb is all clear and the desired parking place in front of the entrance is empty. I zoom in. There is a short line of four or five people standing in front. Others are soon to join us. Apparently, seating begins at 7:15. In front of us are Priscilla and Al, from a town in California. They have two CD's to be signed- 'Misfits' and I think 'Unfinished Business.' In front of them is Bob, who works for the City of Reno. He's got the album jacket from 'The Kink Kronickles.' He's looking for a larger signature.
Inside we are greeted by Jeff Cotton and a woman who collects our tickets. Spying a poster on the wall at the doorway, I ask Jeff if I can have it. He says "Sure." He tells Cheryl to get the one from the ladies room for herself as he prepares to walk over to get the one on the end of a booth in the bar. We go and sit down next to Priscilla and Al at the end of a long table near the stage. In fact, Priscilla and Al are sitting on the end, about two feet from the stage. There, poised above us, in the center of the small triangular stage in the corner is the microphone. On the street side is an electronic keyboard and amplifier, and where the picture window is, a black drape hangs. In the corner sits the drum kit. Along the natural brick wall is another amplifier. Five guitars are on stands on the stage-two electric guitars near the keyboard, two in front of the amplifier by the brick wall and one with its back to the audience by the microphone. Bob, who is sitting at the bar a few feet away tells me that the two by the keyboard are Fender Telecasters, one by the brick wall is a bass and the one by the microphone is an Ovation accoustic. The other guitar he can't identify. He also wonders if Dave is going to bring a Rickenbacker on stage with him since the Kinks were famous for playing Rickenbacker guitars.
As we sit there and eat dinner, at about 8:15, it suddenly lands on my head that I forgot to bring a copy of the program from "A Day on the Village Green." In 1996 we had 101 British cars on the Village Green in Reno and there's no way to make sense of it without the impressive slick-cover program we produced for the event. I could rush home in the E-Type and get back just in time, but that parking space will be gone. I decide to stay. At about a quarter to nine I look through the picture window. A couple of people are standing outside the entrance. Someone is walking around the car, looking at it. I wait impatiently for the show to start. Maybe I could mail a program to Davies.
At five after nine, there is a commotion. Dave Davies and his band "The Ravens" (what the Kinks were called before they became the Kinks in 1964) walk up to the stage. A Telecaster comes up off the stand, the guitar strap goes over Dave Davies' head. A chord is struck. Davies and the band breaks into the exuberant opening chords of 'Til the End of the Day.' The audience rocks back and forth to the music. This is followed by two other rockers, 'I Need You' and 'She's Got Everything'. Big Ed's is now offered either 'Suzannah's Still Alive' or 'Creeping Jean.' However, since Davies decides that the audience can't make up its mind, we get both. Requests are called out for 'Party Line' (wish unfulfilled), 'Tired of Waiting' (wish fulfilled), and 'Waterloo Sunset' (wish unfulfilled). Dave performs the applause trick from 'The Live Kinks' album. He has the audience put their hands over their head and tells us to clap faster. He gets what he's looking for. A crackling performance of 'Picture Book' from 'The Village Green Preservation Society' album is promptly delivered up. The audience then joins in a pub sing-a-long to Davies' English and European hit, 'Death of a Clown'. ("Won't someone help me to break up this crown and drink to the death of a clown; the trainer of insects is crouched on the floor and frantically looking for runaway flees") The final encore was the Kinks song that broke them through to number one on the charts, which featured Dave Davies' guitar, 'You Really Got Me'.
More people rushed to the stage with CD's, record albums, and copies of Davies' autobiography, 'Kink' for autographs. In a few minutes, before Cheryl or I could get the book and posters signed Dave Davies disappeared out the back door. "What do we do now?" "Randy, give me the stuff and I'll get them signed." Before I could say anything, Cheryl had them in hand and she too, had disappeared. The rest of us remained and milled about, probably like the fleas the trainer of insects was frantically searching for.
A few minutes later, Cheryl returned jubilant with the signed book and posters. "Did you get them signed?" "Yes, he's out back in the trailer, and if you come with me now he'll talk to you." "Let's go."
Cheryl leads the way into the trailer and says something to Dave Davies, who is sitting by himself in a chair in a room at the end of the trailer. I walk up, removing the cap from my head. "Hi, no doubt as you can see, I've been a Kinks fan since 1965." Dave chuckled. "My name's Randy Wright." He shook my hand and seemed glad to meet me. "I've got this car, a 1967 E-Type. Its a silver blue roadster parked out front." "Oh yes, I saw it before the show." "Its a four-two." Davies' eye's lit up. "Its a four-two?" "Yes." "I had a 1965 coupe. It was a four-two." [In the mid sixties before the E-Type models progressed, this is how the 3.8 and 4.2 litre models, which were quite similar, were differentiated]. I asked if I could sit down. He readily acquiesced. I decided to tell about the Village Green. "We've got this British car club here in Reno. Every year we put on an all British car meet. We took the name of it from a Kinks' album, 'The Village Green Preservation Society.' We call it 'A Day on the Village Green.' Davies seemed genuinely touched and surprised. "Why that's very nice." He motions at the cap. "Why you've got the right cap for the club." If only I had a nice program to give him. I said something else about the Village Green. We then left the trailer.
Cheryl and I then went into Big Ed's and got a seat at the bar near the back. The crowd had thinned, the word was that Davies would come in and sign things and talk to people. Perhaps Dave would want to see the car...
After about fifteen or possibly twenty minutes, Dave came striding in through the door. He looked at me, grinned and said, "I haven't seen you in a long time." He walked over and shook my hand. "Yes, you're right. Its been far too long. Would you like to see the car? Its parked right out front." "Sure, I would." Cheryl and I proceeded to walk along the bar towards the exit, Davies autographing and talking as we went. At the doorway I mentioned that I had been to the 'Festival of Speed', a vintage car event, at Goodwood House in England. As we walked to the car, its chrome wire wheels gleaming at the curb in the night, he remarked, "You sure keep it up." "Yes, I do." Cheryl noted "Randy always keeps his cars original."
Davies walked around to the front of the E-Type and stared at it. "Do you want to see the engine?" "Yes." I unlatched the bonnet locks and walked around to the driver's side and lifted the bonnet. Dave Davies walked over and looked at the engine with its polished alumium camshaft covers. "I just put a new coat of gold paint on the head. You know that Jaguar always painted the head gold on the early E-types. They called it the gold top head." I continued talking. "Its got the triple SU carburetors." Annoyed, I reached over and tightened down the oil cap on one of the carburetors. As though irresistably drawn by the engine, he reached down and fidgeted with the polished handle of the oil dipstick. The first concern of any experienced Jaguar owner.
"How many Jaguars did you own in the sixties?" "I had a red 1965 coupe and later, a regal blue 1968 2+2. I also had a Citroen-Maserati after that."
"Would you like to drive it?" I couldn't believe myself. "Oh no, I couldn't do that. I've had a beer." He paused and joked, "Besides, if I drive it you won't see me again." "Oh no you won't. I'll be right there in the passenger seat." I nearly added, "If you're going to drive to London, then I'm coming along."
"Did you see that the license plate has 'Sunny Afternoon' on it?" "Yes, I saw that." We walked to the curbside by the open bonnet. "Its very nice. I like older cars rather than the new cars." Then came the rueful admission. "You know that red coupe I had? I drove it into the ground. But I was a crazy kid then." I think I understood. A seventeen year-old kid who is a rock and roll god in 1965. "Yeah, we were all crazy kids, weren't we?" There was a pause. I didn't know what else to say. I raised my right arm until it was nearly parallel to the ground and glanced at it. "You know I'm a dyed in the wool anglophile. I got this coat at Gieves and Hawkes." He laughed. Dave slapped me on the shoulder. He shook my hand, grinning, he said, "I'll see you at the next show." "Yes, you will." He walked back into Big Ed's. The entire time Dave treated us and everyone else with complete respect. Cheryl and I drove off into the night in the 'Sunny Afternoon' E-Type.
It was only after I got home that it hit me. The person I looked at through the picture window in front of Big Ed's in Reno, Nevada examining the E-Type Jaguar before the show was Dave Davies.
*Reference to 'Mr. Churchill Says', c. 1969, R. Davies