Original Kinks Bassist Pete Quaife Dead at 66

Founding member suffered from kidney disease for more than a decade

By |

Pete Quaife, the original bassist in the Kinks who played with the British Invasion band from their formation in 1961 through 1969, has died, according to a source close to the band. He was 66. The exact cause of death is unknown, but he had been undergoing kidney dialysis for over a decade. Quaife played on all of the early Kinks classics, including "You Really Got Me," "All Day and All of the Night," "Dedicated Follower of Fashion" and "Waterloo Sunset," which also features his background vocals.

Look back at classic photos of the Kinks, onstage and off.

Quaife grew up in the same neighborhood as the Davies family and met Ray in music class at William Grimshaw Secondary Modern School in Muswell Hill, England. Ray was impressed by Pete's guitar playing and invited him to jam with him and his younger brother Dave. "After some jamming and loose rehearsals it was decided that Pete would team up with us," Dave Davies wrote in his memoir, Kink. "We drew lots to see who would play bass guitar and Pete lost."

In October of 1961 the group — with Quaife's friend John Start on drums — played their first gig at a school dance with a set that consisted of covers by the Ventures, the Shadows and Duane Eddy. They began playing gigs around town both as the Ray Davies Quartet and the Pete Quaife Quintet, depending on who booked the gig. By 1963 the group — now known as the Kinks — began recording with producer Shel Talmy, who got the group signed to Pyre Records. Their third single, "You Really Got Me," was a smash hit, instantly making the Kinks one of the biggest bands of the exploding U.K. rock scene.

Despite the Kinks' success, Quaife was never satisfied with his role in the creative process. "I would have been squished with a size 16 boot I had even suggested they listen to an idea from me," he said in a 2005 interview. "I felt like a session man most of the time. Ray wanted complete control of everything. He was a control freak." In June 1966 Quaife broke his leg in a car accident and briefly left the band. "It was a good break for me," he said in 2005. "The band was fighting all the time and I couldn't take it." He rejoined after a few months, but quit for good three yeas later. In a 1998 interview, Quaife pointed to the band's 1968 disc Village Green Preservation Society as his favorite. "For me, it represents the only real album made by the Kinks," he said. "It's the only one where we all contributed something."

Exhausted by the infighting, Quaife quit the Kinks in 1969. "The Kinks put on a happy façade to the outside world," he said. "Behind closed doors it was like the WWF. We hurt ourselves with the constant scraping." Quaife formed the country rock band Maple Oak later that year, but left the band just a year later and largely retired from music. In the 1980s he moved to Canada and began earning his living as a graphic artist. When he was diagnosed with renal failure in 1998, he began drawing cartoons about his experience undergoing dialysis treatment. He last played with the Kinks at their induction in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990.