IMAGINARY MAN (Imaginary man on Working man’s cafe) : better use your imagination. Ray, obviously. And us all. The song’s closing lines: “One day you’ll wake up / and you will feel / I am alive / This is real.” Oh sure. Or, on a good day, fair enough.
INFORMER, The (The informer on Phobia) : possibly inspired by what used to be called The Irish Problem, the Troubles. And after reading Nick Hasted’s 2011 Kinks biography, definitely.
JACK the Idiot Dunce (SID) : one of Flash’s class mates. According to the theatre programme he got bullied by Flash’s gang. Not academically brilliant but a winner due to his dancing ability.
JACK THE LAD (Stand up on OPL): English expression whose origin I thought I’d soon discover. Not so easy as it turns out. A delinquent ‘cheekie chappie’. In one verse he’s become Oscar Wilde, in another merely Fancy Dan. A cultural downward path is indicated whichever it is.
JACKSON, Al (Otis riffs – one of the Jane Street songs not on OPL): drummer with Booker T and the MGs, the Stax house band (you know, ‘Green onions’ et al), hence “And then an Al Jackson fill …” in the song. MG stood for ‘Memphis Group’. In a passage in Peter Guralnik’s ‘Sweet soul music: rhythm and blues and the Southern dream of freedom’ (1986) there is a bizarre claim (not from the excellent Guralnick) that they were named after Chip Moman’s sports car – a Triumph. Certainly the Triumph Spitfire and the MGB were contemporary British sports cars of a similar ilk (the poor man’s E-Type) but they were competitors. In one of those strange twists of history, their ‘Soul limbo’ was for years the welcome signature tune for the BBC’s television coverage of Test Cricket. Al Jackson was shot dead in October 1975 in a burglary attempt on his home, just two months after he’d been shot by his wife in a domestic dispute.
JANE (Apeman on LVPATM) : Tarzan’s mate, and I don’t mean they were just good chums.
JEAN (Creepin’ Jean; originally b-side of Hold my hand): she was “a slut-girlfriend-drug-addict. Sleazy but great fun.” So Dave reports in his autobiography, ‘Kink’. Probably didn’t have much of a future, then. Or may, by now, of course, have become a perfectly respectable grandmother with a mysterious hidden past, secretly longing to vouchsafe to someone, “That’s me he’s singing about, that is.”
JOHN, Uncle (Long tall Sally first single) : he was playing away from home with Long Tall Sally. Saw Aunt Mary coming so he jumped back in the alley. Whether she saw him or not, and the possible consequences of such an occurence are left to our imagination.
JOHNNY (Situations vacant on SE): victim of an ambitious mother-in-law. Married to Susie at the start of the song; she’s back with her mother by the psychedelic end. See also SUSIE for a neat symmetry. Or not, as the case may be.
JOHNNY & The Hurricanes (One of the survivors on PA1) : successful late ’50s/early ’60s American rock and roll instrumental combo. White boys watering down the real thing but not without a certain energy of their own. ‘Red river rock,’ ‘Beatnik fly,’ ‘Rockin’ goose’ and ‘Reveille rock’ were among their distinctive hits. John Coltrane the saxophonist was not, but he wasn’t really trying to be. Johnny was born John M. Pocisk, in Rossford, Ohio in 1940 and adopted the stage name Johnny Paris. He got his break when group he was in backed a vocal group on a demo tape; the singers got the thumbs down. Johnny & the Hurricanes played the Star Club in Hamburg in 1962, headlining a bill that included the then unknown Beatles. They last recorded in the mid-60s and that was it. After all that excitement Johnny variously sold real estate and owned an antique shop and a vending machine business in Toledo, Ohio. He lived in Germany in the late 1980s and into the ’90s. Died in 2006. I liked their late single ‘Miserlou’ – a hard piano grinning groove with a great rocking Salvation Army influenced ‘Salvation’ on the b-side – picked up for a few pence in a junk shop, a lot.
JONES, Mister (Next door neighbour on OPL): generic. Smith, Jones and Brown were traditionally reckoned to be among the most common English surnames and quite possibly still are for all I know. That being so I find it strange I know so few personally … apart from chum Kevin … over a lifetime. Sheer laziness on Ray’s part is what I say. But Anthony Holland suggests it was Smith for the English, Brown for the Scots and Jones for the Welsh, thus covering the island … maybe. Added April, 21012: And while we’re here, how about a bit of intertextuality. “How’s that beautiful wife?” Ray enquires of his old next door neighbour. Better ask Billy Paul (you know, Me and Mrs Jones). Mind, as Jackie Leven used to occasionally point out in extended live versions of his sublime Kings of infinite space at a certain stage in his career, what sort of secret affair was that – regularly meeting at the same time, in the same cafe?
JONES, Shirley (Oklahoma USA on MH) : American actress and singer born 1934 and named after Shirley Temple. The wholesome ‘Oklahoma’ (1955) was her first major movie role. The next year she again shared the credits with Gordon McRae in ‘Carousel’. ‘Oklahoma’ is described by the Rotten Tomatoes website (unkind. unkind) as “this rousing tale of a farm girl who falls in love with a cowboy and then must fend off the advances of a villainous suitor” and adds that it “is packed with some the most beloved tunes in American theater” which is undoubtedly the case, including ‘Oh what a beautiful morning’, the title song and ‘People will say we’re in love’. The glorious Oklahoma skies filmed in CinemaScope and Todd-AO at a time when colour was still a rarity had a huge impact in grey old ’50s UK – hence its leading role in this most wonderful of Kinks songs. Rodgers & Hammerstein’s ‘Surrey with the fringe on top’ is an absolute joy, and will almost certainly have been one of those songs sung regularly in the Davies household. What supreme craftsmen! Yet the optimism is infectious and inescapable. What a fantasy in the dreary back streets of post-war Britain. In 1960, seeking to break the mould of typecasting, she was the vengeful prostitute cast against the eponymous Burt Lancaster character in the movie of ‘Elmer Gantry’, which powerfully explored a darker side of the American prairies; she won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress but reverted to peaches’n’cream as Marion, the librarian (hey!) in ‘The Music Man (1962)’. Post-Beatles the musical as a form hit bad times, and Shirley Jones’s career took an interesting TV turn in the early 1970s when she became Shirley Partridge, the screen mother of among others real life step-son and nascent teen idol David Cassidy, in the long running series The Partridge Family’, a show which apparently still gets reruns in the States. Not a lot after that though save TV movies and health and beauty videos.
JULIAN (Too hot on WOM) see Julian TEMPLE
JULIE (Waterloo sunset) see Julie CHRISTIE even if it’s not really her.
KEELER, Christine (Where are they now? on PA1) : infamous blah-de-blah. Born Hayes, Middlesex, 1942. One of the unwitting (until too late) leading protagonists in the Profumo Affair, a political scandal and social awakening in 1963. John ‘Jack’ Profumo was the UK defence minister caught with his pants down in politically compromising circumstances. That much quoted verse from Philip Larkin’s ‘Annus mirabili’: “Sexual intercourse began / In nineteen sixty-three / (Which was rather late for me) / Between the end of the Chatterley ban / And the Beatles’ first LP” is apposite. And the whole world know that iconic photo by Lewis Morley of her in the buff astride a backwards designer chair (a version of Arne Jacobsen’s 1952 Ant chair, it say here). Playgirl or prostitute, establishment cover-up etc etc. Autobiography appeared a few years ago; not much more was revealed from what I recall. I actually thought the 1989 film ‘Scandal’ was pretty good, with Ian McKellan (great acting, before he came out) as Jack Profumo, John Hurt as the martyr Stephen Ward, Joanne Whalley-Kilmer as Christine, and Bridget Fonda rather improbably as her chum Mandy Rice-Davies. The Profumo Affair was one of those ’60s watersheds. You can read a pretty comprehensive and succinct acount of it all – background, context and consequences – courtesy of the Guardian, here. After the storm her life , according to her autobiography, has not been a happy one. “I became a dirty joke,” she writes, “a sexual scalp. I have not been able to live with a man since 1979,” though she claims flings with film actors Warren Beatty and George Peppard. She has variously worked in a launderette, served dinners at a school, written an advice column and done voluntary stints with the Release. No doubt at least her financial condition will have improved since she signed that publishing contract. She’s featured in a few songs other songs than ‘Where are they now?’ Like Phil Ochs’s ‘Christine Keeler’: “Christine Keeler and Mandy Rice-Davies / You’re the gals for me / Christine Keeler and Mandy Rice-Davies / I’ll keep you company” and a few more verses including a name check for American defense secretary Robert MacNamara. It’s easy enough to find the other verses on the net, to be sung to the tune of the Rooftop singers’ ‘Walk right in’, knowing which its freshness is never quite the same. And The Skatellites’ ‘Christine Keeler’, an instrumental produced by the legendary Clement Dodd, in which Roland Alphoso takes the first solo, Johnny ‘Dizzy’ Moore the second, and Lester Sterling the third.
KENNEDY, John F (Give the people what they want on GTPWTW) : American President, famously assassinated in 1963. Inspiration to a generation (“this is the new frontier”) but it was he who started the whole mess in Vietnam. Probably a more successful philanderer than Clinton (Marilyn Monroe!) but the press never talked about things like that in those days. One of those cliches: everyone remebers where they were or what they were doing when they heard. I don’t. Probably doing my school homework upstairs.
KENNY, My brother (Video shop on TV) : this ’80s entrepreneur’s inspiration. There he (Kenny) is, sitting on his arse … how can I make some money out of him and his ilk? Open up a video rental shop, of course. Fictional; Ray doesn’t have a brother Kenny.
KID WITH THE GREASY SPOON FIRMLY HELD IN MY HAND, The (Working man’s cafe on WMC) : Ray and brother Dave, of course. A ‘greasy spoon’ as well as being literally, a spoon with grease on it, was the street description of yer working man’s cafe, or transport cafe, so called because the food was, um, greasy. Lot of frying involved, utensils washed definitely not in a dishwasher. Then there’s being ‘born with a silver spoon in your mouth’, which means, usually disparagingly, a privileged upbringing and an easy passage in life. As opposed to Pete Townsend’s cute lyric in The Who’s ‘Substitute’ – “I was born with a plastic spoon in my mouth”. (Dec 07)
The KILLER (Killer’s eyes on GTPWTW) : I’ve seen suggestions that this was inspired by the capture of serial killer Peter Sutcliffe – the Yorkshire Ripper – or the failed assassination attempt on the Pope by Mehmet Ali Agca, both in 1981, but there’s no internal evidence in the lyrics that points specifically at either of them. One of Ray’s most powerful songs, its anguish is universal.
KING, The (A rock ‘n’ roll fantasy on Misfits) : “the King is dead” – Elvis Presley of course. We used to say things like that. Great voice, mind, cruelly misused in later years. Such a cheesy death.
KING KONG (King Kong) : giant (as big as the Empire State Building) ape of eponymous monster movie fame, a classic of early silver screen special effects. Not to be confused with APE MAN (Ape man on LVPATM), in which he also gets a mention.
KRAY TWINS, The (London song) : Reg and Ronnie. They had another brother called Charlie who was apparently the businessman/accountant of the firm. London gangsters who achieved power and a certain fashionable cache in the ’60s (David Bailey photos, celeb and aristo mates) until they were locked away, Ronnie later to be diagnosed as criminally insane. No credit at all to the culture with a very small ‘c’, they are still often seen as folk heroes, both in
their native East End and nationally, even though the film with the Kemp brothers from Spandau Ballet hardly hid the psychopathy. Your best source, and and a useful alternative look at post-war Britain, swinging ’60s and all, is John Pearson’s Profession of violence (4th. edition UK: HarperCollins, 1995). They could have created a mafia style controlling business empire,
“… they could have become immensely rich. They might have made themselves impregnable. Instead … Ronnie’s fantasy life took over and his private dreams of violence became self-fulfilling. Bored with business, which his twin did so much better, he still hankered after the old East End-style violence, which he had loved and grown up with – but which by now was purest self indulgence”.
And unlike Capone it was murder they were busted for. Best epitaph is from Salman Rushdie, again quoted from Pearson : “When murderers become celebrities something has gone seriously wrong.” What follows is taken from the cover date September 2004 issue of he generally splendid ‘Uncut’ magazine, from a fine article by Nick Hasted, talking about the early days when the Kinks signed disastrous contracts with old school music business Tin Pan Alley management:
Things could have been very different if [first manager] Wace had taken up an offer he refused in 1965 from Kinks fans Ronnie and Reggie Kray. “Yes, big admirers,” Ray smirks at the memory of the East End hard men. “I think they sent someone round to Robert’s office and said, ‘My boss is very interested in managing you.’ I don’t know what the outcome was. Probably Robert said, [posh voice] ‘Oh I can’t let the band go, but I’ll let you join my club’. When I did a new song on TV recently, the following week my agent got a call from Charlie Kray, wanting to talk to me because he felt great affinity for my lyric, because I mentioned the Kray twins. When my agent dialled 1471, it was from Her Majesty’s Prison. It was kind of touching in a sense – at that stage, obviously. They were gangsters, but we got involved in a different kind of villainy. possibly not as clean-cut …” The Krays were still trying to cut deals with their fellow battling brothers in the ’80s, when Charlie knocked on sister Gwen Davies’ door.
“They liked us, it worried me,” laughs Dave. “They really wanted me and Ray to play them in the movie. I toyed with the idea, but the thought of glorifying criminals grated. You know what Chrissie [Hynde] used to call me and Ray? The Krays of rock’n’roll.”
This was the state of play with what Duncan Campbell calls ‘the Kray brand’ in September, 2015. What it says in the link: http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2015/sep/03/the-selling-of-the-krays-how-two-mediocre-criminals-created-their-own-legendlegends