Pete Quaife Dead at 66

Pete Quaife

Pete Quaife would be the first to admit he wasn't the greatest bass player in the world. When I interviewed him 20 years ago on the occasion of the Kinks' induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame he joked that he became famous for playing the same two notes over and over on You Really Got Me, but he was a vital part of a band that survived the '60s with its legacy virtually untainted (so help me, I love those Preservation albums from the '70s). He just seemed a perfect fit between the sibling rivalry of Ray and Dave Davies, deftly handling the rapid shift from teen rage to middle age wistfulness, only to bow out when the pressures of the musical money-go-round overwhelmed the pleasure of playing those two notes and providing the rhythmic anchor chain to Mick Avory's drums on Ray's visions of England's vanished golden age.

In 1990, Pete was more than generous with his time for an overwhelmed young Kinks kultist--he was living in Canada at the time, working as a freelance graphic artist and playing music when the mood struck him--later sending me a long handwritten letter expressing his thanks for my interest in his life and career and eventually a VHS tape of his personal home movies shot while on tour with the Kinks in the U.S. (the highlight is probably a shot of Dave giving a big hug to an uncomfortable-looking Annette Funicello on the set of Hullaballoo). Aside from actually meeting Ray himself a few years ago, it remains one of my fondest experiences of being a fan.

Pete passed away in Denmark on Thursday after a decade of struggling with kidney disease. You can read a CBC obit here, or just do what I'm going to do and put on The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society and quietly mourn the loss of a well respected man.

13 comments:

Max Frost said...

Very touching tribute. Well done.

swac said...

Thanks Max!

Here's some incredible Kinks footage, probably their only Village Green-era TV appearance, doing Last of the Steam Powered Trains and Picture Book (with a great hook later ripped off by Green Day):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SYtOPjPtVS0

Gerard Saylor said...

A great band that does not get all the credit they so greatly deserve.

Tom Sutpen said...

Beautifully done, compadre.

Gwyllm said...

Thanks for the kind words about Pete.

I saw the Kinks more than any other band, and followed them up into the 80's until Ray's antics got to be too much.

Pete was an original, playing bass in such a way that it melded with Mick's drumming to make the perfect rhythm section.

His works from 66 onward until his leaving the Kinks still leaves me breathless.

Pete, Godspeed.

Gwyllm

Vanwall said...

Lovely, heartfelt, and personal - The Kinks were different in ways I loved, and Pete Quaife was way too humble!

Fred said...

Waterloo Sunset's fine (I love Pete's bass line on that one). I'm going down the cellar to pull out my old Rickenbacker 4001s and play some Kinks. Thanks for the remembrance, swac.

Andy 7 said...

All the good times have all gone away
It's a shame, such a shame, such a shame

Some days it feels that way. This is one of those days.

swac said...

I forgot to mention another story that Pete told me, about the reason for their career-stalling ban by the musicians union in the '60s. He blames it on manager Larry Page, who used to occasion of the Kinks' American tour to try and court U.S. artists, and apparently while the band was in San Francisco, Page flew down to L.A. because he wanted to try and sign up Sonny & Cher, but in his rush he left the band in S.F. without any money or plane tickets, and they were unable to get to L.A. in time for a TV taping, which was a big no-no, apparently. But if you've read the other stories, there were lots of other infractions against the AFofM (including one about punching out a union dues collector), but missing the taping was (according to Pete) the straw that broke the proverbial camel's back.

estiv said...

Thanks very much, swac. That's a great pic, too. He looks skeptical but not cynical, which seems to match your description of him.

Richmond Rambler said...

Nice piece.

john said...

That's a cool photo. Pete was so great. Okay, so Pete knew he played bass in a simple fashion...that's great. But he played perfectly for that band and he played bass on all of their records through "The Kinks Are The Village Green..." For a lot of people, that era of the Kinks is their golden era which means played on as many great Invasion songs as any other bass player. His style (like Bill Wyman's) was more felt than heard.

Plus he was able to cut it in the studio with ace session drummer Bobby Graham who played on every Kinks' track up until "See My Friends". So Pete was really a top notch time keeper who played exactly what the songs needed.

Check out Bobby Graham's credits....
http://www.bobbygraham.co.uk/bobbygraham/discography.htm

Kimberly Lindbergs said...

Great piece!