Forget Mayweather v Pacquiao or even Mills versus McCartney. Whilst some observers will argue the Fight of the Century was Ali vs Frazier at Madison Square Garden in 1971, or for The Rumble In The Jungle, or even The Thrilla in Manila, none of these take into account the real fight of the century, otherwise known as The Tiff in Cardiff.
The Tiff in Cardiff saw, in the blue(s) corner, Kinks Drummer Mick Avory, and in the (increasingly) red corner Kinks guitarist Dave Davies.
Today marks the fiftieth anniversary of the incident, so I thought it was worth
raking over old coals reminding ourselves of what, to this day, is one of the most bloody, and at the same time hilarious, fights in rock n roll.
The facts are in slight dispute, but most observers agree they are as follows:
1. The Kinks were playing a show in Cardiff as part of a tour playing seventeen gigs in nineteen days. Davies and Avory had already come to blows after the previous show in Taunton, with Dave Davies, who had started the fight, coming off worst, sporting two black eyes.
2. During the Cardiff show, Dave Davies took his revenge, telling Mick Avory in an insult worthy of
Oscar Wilde Joey Barton, “You’re a useless c— and your drumming’s s—. They’d sound better if you played them with your c*ck”, and then proceeded to kick Avory’s drum kit apart.
3. Mick Avory appeared to not take this as a compliment.
4. Avory picked up his drum pedal (many accounts say it was a cymbal) and struck Davies over the head with it, knocking him, bleeding, to the ground.
5. Avory, believing he may have killed the guitarist, then fled into the crowd wearing full Regency stage costume and on a train to London.
6. Avory then hid from the police for three days, until news reached him that Davies was still alive and wouldn’t be pressing charges.
Oasis split up after Liam threw a plum at Noel. They just don’t make ’em like they used to….
Rob Jovanovic’s Kinks biography “God Save The Kinks” describes Avory’s flight from justice like this, “The big drummer panicked when he saw Dave laying there motionless and ran right out of the theatre, disappearing into the Welsh night with his frilly shirt and hunting jacket flapping about him”.
Nick Hasted, in his excellent Kinks bio “You Really Got Me” agrees “Avory believed…. he’d murdered him. Running through the crowd and out of the hall, he took a train towards London, surely a hunted man, shrinking into his seat in pink Regency garb.”
Dave Davies told Jovanovic “That was outrageous. That was very funny, though not at the time. Imagine Mick trying to hide in the crowd thinking he’d killed me, with that pink hunting jacket and frilly shirt he used to wear….”
Avory generously conceded to Hasted “it obviously wasn’t the way to handle it” but denied he had used the more lethal weapon some accuse him of using: a cymbal “I only used a high hat pedal. It wasn’t as bad as it was made out. If I’d hit him with a cymbal obviously that could decapitate someone.”
Davies hid at NME journalist Keith Altham’s house for a few days. The Cardiff police wanted Dave Davies to press charges for attempted murder, but he declined to do so. Here’s a brief clip from a documentary that descrbes the incident…
The real punchline to the story, however, was not delivered physically. The next time Davies and Avory saw each other was at a planning meeting for their next tour of the USA. Their tour manager Larry Page decided to ignore the ill-feeling that remained, a task made more difficult by the fact that Dave Davies was sitting in the room with an enormous bandage wrapped around his head.
After running through various points, Page asked the band if they had any questions.
“Yeah,” replied Mick Avory. “I’m gonna need a new drum pedal…”