John “Nobby” Dalton was born 21 May 1943 in Enfield, just north of London.  He was bass player with Danny King and The Bluejacks, then with Mark Four, before temporarily joining The Kinks in 1966, when Pete Quaife was injured in a road accident. He permanently replaced Quaife in 1969 and stayed with the band until 1976. 


In the 1990s, Nobby founded and fronted the Kast Off Kinks until retiring in 2008, and still plays occasional gigs with them.   He is also one of the nicest men you could wish to meet.


In the first part of a new interview for the Kast Off Kinks website, John talks about his early musical history, his debut with The Kinks and bass guitars :


KOK : What was your first public performance?

JD : My first ever public performance was November 1958, at a very cold Rye House Dog Track. I was a very shy 15 year old, I didn’t have a bass, I had a six string guitar but couldn’t play a note, I just stood there pretending to play, while people walked in & out with their greyhounds. Very frightening.  (We got paid 12 Shillings between the five of us!)

“they just wanted me to look all right…

 and be an Arsenal supporter!”


The John dalton InTerview

Part 1


KOK : Were the Mark Four ever on the same bill as the Kinks, or had you been to any Kinks gigs, and if so, what was your impression of them?

JD : We never played on the same bill as them, but often played the same venue a week or two after them. No, in fact when I was asked to audition for them, I looked at a picture and didn’t even know who was who in the band.


KOK : Are you still in touch with any of the Mark Four?

JD : I went to see Eddie Phillips play last Friday - we hadn’t seen each other in 10 years - he is still a great guitarist. After The Creation finished, Eddie didn’t play for a couple of years until I asked him to join me in a band I was forming to do gigs to raise money for Leukaemia . The band was called The Bullettes.


Eddie & I then formed a band called The Cuckoos Nest.  We are now thinking of reforming The Nest for a one off gig.


Mick Thompson, the rhythm guitarist, was at my 65th birthday party, and we played a Mark Four set.


KOK : How did you initially get the job as replacement for Pete Quaife?

JD : The Kinks were with an agent called Arthur Howes. Their top booker was a guy called Bill Fowler, who was a friend of mine, and also used to be The Mark Four’s road manager. When Pete was injured on his scooter, Bill was given the job of finding a quick replacement, it took him a few hours to talk me into at least going for an interview. The interview was on June 9 1966, at Carling Music, Savile Row.

I can’t remember having to play much, I think they just wanted me to look all right... and be an Arsenal supporter.


KOK : What do you remember about your first live performance with the Kinks? Do you remember what was the first song you played?

JD : I can’t remember much, all I can remember is that I didn’t know any of the numbers and I had one day to learn them. Luckily the sets were short in those days.


I can’t remember much of what we played, obviously we played the hits (Sunny Afternoon, You Really Got Me, etc.)  I always thought we played Last Of The Steam Powered Trains and She’s Got Everything, but they weren’t released until 1968.


KOK : What was your first recording session with The Kinks like?  Did you find it fun or stressful? I understand it was Little Miss Queen Of Darkness?

JD : It was all too hectic to worry about or have nerves, I met them on the Thursday, did Top Of The Pops in the evening, in the studio after that, tried to learn 20 songs on the Friday, two gigs on the Saturday, then off to Spain on the Monday.


Yes, I think my first recording with The Kinks was Little Miss Queen Of Darkness.


KOK : What do you feel you added to the band that perhaps Pete Quaife didn't, and vice versa?

JD : I could drink more than him, & he was far more sensible than me!


KOK : At what point did you feel like a permanent member of the band?



KOK : What Kinks song do you feel especially proud about for your bass playing?

JD : I liked a couple of Dave’s tracks, like Mindless Child Of Motherhood and Rats, but I am proud to have played on loads of the tracks. That’s why it was nice when we formed The Kast Off Kinks and were able to bring some of them back to life.


KOK : Which is your favourite Kinks track?

JD : My favourite Kinks track is Shangrila, so it was nice to bring it back to life with the KOKs.


KOK : Do you have a favourite album that you played on?

JD : I think my favourite is Arthur, in fact I did ask the new KOKs if they would play the whole of the album at this years convention, as it was forty Years ago, but they wouldn’t have it. Dave must have remembered when we played Princess Marina before.


KOK : What was the origin of your nickname?

JD : I have had the nickname Nobby since I was five or six, at primary school. I have no idea how it came to be, and I am surprised it has lasted all these years.


KOK : Apart from the Baptist, did any other members of the band have nicknames (that you're willing to share!)

JD : Dave was sometimes called Mr Hyde, Ray was The Headmaster (I think that was around the “Schoolboys In Disgrace” time), and Mick was sometimes known as Charlie.


KOK : Which tour was most memorable for you?

JD : I loved it when we finally got back in America (after not being allowed there for a few years) in October 1969, and for me to do my first ever gig in America at The Fillmore East was a dream come true.


We did one tour in the early 70s we called the jazz /drinking tour - we were augmented with a very hard drinking jazz band, The Mike Cotton Sound. They got us into really bad ways, drinking on the plane, drinking in the nearest cocktail bar as soon as we got off the plane, straight in the bar as soon as we got to the hotel, it was non stop drinking apart from when we had to do the gig. It was a good fun tour and I think we were at our playing best in the early 70s. The band was very tight.



KOK : Did you meet many other bands on the road?  Did you get on well with them?

JD : We never really mixed with many other bands but we had a laugh with some of the bands that supported us on tour - bands like Argent, I grew up with Russ Ballard and Bob Henrit and also knew Jim Rodford. Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel were fun and we went to a couple of parties with The Faces. Had a few drinks with Humble Pie as well.


KOK : Which was the most memorable live gig?

JD : For me it was Thursday 2 March 1972 at Carnegie Hall . For a musician (I use the term loosely) to play at such a prestigious theatre as that was a great honour. Lindisfarne supported us.


KOK : Was your set up much different between studio and live performances?

JD : Yes we used a lot more equipment at live performances, I can remember at one time I was using a 200 watt amp and four 4x4 Hi Watt cabinets on stage. In the studio, my amp would have been a lot smaller.


KOK : Only 200 watts? I am surprised - the bass player in my band uses something like 300 watts as standard.

JD : Oh yes, nowadays things are much more powerful.


Mark Four

KOK : What was the first bass guitar you owned?

JD : My first bass guitar was a Framus, but I can’t remember the model. As I said before, when I first joined Danny King & The Bluejacks I had a six string guitar, but it didn’t really matter as I couldn’t play anyway.


KOK : How many bass guitars do you own and what is your most treasured?

JD : I have two bass guitars, an Ibanez SRX500HS, and a Fender Precision .


The Precision is my most treasured, it was made in the mid 60s, covered in scratches, and well battered, but I love it. If we stop for a coffee or something on the way to a gig, I have to take it in with me, I will not leave it in the car. I would be devastated if it was stolen.


KOK : Have you ever played an upright bass?

JD : I have got one at home that my family bought for my birthday a few years ago, but I still can’t seem to get the hang of it.  Perhaps one day.


KOK : Which bass players do you admire the most?

JD : I used to love Rick Danko from The Band. and Paul McCartney, both kept things simple but effective.


KOK : Did you always want to be a bass player or did you start off wanting to be a lead guitarist ?

JD : In 1958 I didn’t really have a choice, they already had a lead guitar and a rhythm guitar, and wanted a bass guitar. Once I learnt how to play it, I was stuck with it for ever.


KOK : I've read that one of the reasons Pete left The Kinks was because he wasn't able to make a creative contribution to the band. Did you ever feel similarly constrained or frustrated?

JD : Pete may have just said that as a reason to quit, but I don’t really know. I never felt restricted in any way.


KOK : Did you work out your own bass parts or did Ray specify what to play?

JD : We would all start playing what we thought was right round the chord structure Ray had given us, and then if he wanted us to play something special in a certain part he would ask us to try it to see if it would work or not. He was the only one that knew what he wanted in his head. After all Ray had written the song.


KOK : Did you ever consider taking up any other instruments or singing?

JD : I tried learning piano once, but never really devoted enough time to it. Shame really, I would love to be able to play the piano.


I don’t think I would get many gigs as a singer, but I wanted to be one when I was fourteen. I would stand in front of the mirror with a hair brush in my hand, pretending it was a mic miming to Platters records.


KOK : What is the story behind your singing lead vocals on Willesden Green - have you ever considered doing Elvis impersonations as a side line?

JD : I think Willesden Green was going to be used in a scene for the film “Percy”. The scene was in a pub and Ray wanted a pub singer - he thought I was the obvious choice!


KOK : Are there any other Kinks songs in the vaults with you on vocals?

JD : DON’T WORRY, there aren’t!

Mick “Spud” Thompson

Bob, Russ, Rod Argent and Jim

Same favourite as Mick


Ibanez SRX500HS

Fender Precision

Danny King and The Bluejacks

Jimmy Virgo and The Bluejacks




© Kast Off Kinks Website 2009


Interview Part 2

The Val Dalton Interview

The Kast Off Kinks website

John “Elvis” Dalton sings “Willesden Green”

Rick Danko

Sir Paul