"We get halfway through, just before the solo, and all the power goes off on stage": The night a furious Ray Davies cut a Yes set short before aiming blows and kicks at Rick Wakeman

Jon Anderson singing onstage with (inset) Ray Davies
(Image credit: Ray Davies: Pictorial Press Ltd / Alamy Stock Photo | Jon Anderson: Michael Putland via Getty Images)

The Kinks' Ray Davies couldn't care less about Yes's sobbing, but he did decide it was time for the band to stop all its playing during a 1971 show when the British bands shared billing at the Ritz Theatre in Staten Island, N.Y. 

It was the latter of two shows on November 27, during Yes's first stateside trek with keyboardist Rick Wakeman, promoting the band's just-released fourth studio album, Fragile, as well as The Yes Album, which was released nine months prior. It was just one of three shows Yes did with the Kinks on the jaunt, too.

"We looked up to those guys," former frontman Jon Anderson tells Classic Rock. "it was like the Hollies, The Beatles, The Kinks – real raw rock'n'roll, really good." But Davies, according to Anderson, was quick to lay down the law when the bands arrived at the theatre. "He said to me, Anderson...' I said, 'Yes, what do you want?' He said, 'Don't forget, you've got 50 minutes on stage,' because we were opening. I said, 'OK Ray, no problem.'" 

Famous last words.

"So we're doing our show on stage and everything, and there's about five minutes left," Anderson remembers. "And I looked at Chris (Squire) and he said, 'What should we do now?' 'cause the audience were digging us, y'know. I said, Let's do Yours is No Disgrace. (Squire) said, 'Yeah, but it's long' and I said, 'I don't care, I don't care... rock'n'roll!' 

"So we started doing Yours is No Disgrace and we get halfway through, just before the solo, and all the power goes off on stage. And I look over and Ray's got the plug in his hand, saying, 'I told you, you fucker!' I said 50 minutes!'" 

The story was also related in a subsequent Rolling Stone feature, when guitarist Steve Howe told the magazine that Davies not only pulled the plug but "kicked and punched" Wakeman as the band left the stage. 

There was, however some counterbalance to the Yes men's recollection of the events. Responding to an official Yes posting of the 1973 Rolling Stone story on Facebook, Robert Herman, who booked the Kinks/Yes show at the Ritz, shared his memory of what happened that night: "Ray tried to pull the plug/power on Yes during the late show second encore and was held back from doing so. The same goes with him kicking and punching Rick, he attempted to and was held back by my brother, who was the stage manager." 

Herman further shared that The Kinks didn't wrap up their portion of the late show until 5:30 a.m. "It was an incredible night of music and we had Yes back as a headliner on February 29th 1972, which the tickets for the show sold out in less than two hours," he wrote.

While Howe continues to lead the current incarnation of Yes – still promoting the 2023 album Mirror to the Sky with The Classic Tales of Yes Tour spring dates in Europe – Anderson will also be celebrating the band with his Yes Epics, Classics, and More tour with Band Geeks, which kicks off May 30 in New Jersey. Anderson and Band Geeks, which includes Blue Oyster Cult's Richie Castellano, have also recorded a studio new album, True, which will be released this year. 

Gary Graff

Gary Graff is an award-winning veteran music journalist based in metro Detroit, writing regularly for Billboard, Ultimate Classic Rock, Media News Group, Music Connection, United Stations Radio Networks and others. Graff’s work has also appeared in Rolling Stone, Guitar World, Classic Rock, Revolver, the San Francisco Chronicle, AARP magazine, the Detroit Jewish News, The Forward and others. Graff has co-written and edited books about Bob Seger, Neil Young and Bruce Springsteen. A professional voter for the Grammy Awards and the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, Graff co-founded the Detroit Music Awards in 1989 and continues as the organisation’s chief producer.