Kinks leader Ray Davies wrote this song, calling it a "Method acting songwriting job."
While he was writing the song in 1977, he learned that Elvis Presley had died, which influenced the lyric. He was staying in New York at the time, and when he looked out his window late at night, he saw a single light on in one of the buildings. Davies imagined that light being the apartment of an ardent Elvis fan, which became the character Dan the Fan in the song.
The Kinks were falling apart around this time; guitarist Dave Davies wanted to stop touring, and keyboard player John Gosling and bass player Andy Pyle had decided that Misfits would be their last album with the group. Ray Davies explained in Rolling Stone: "The song was almost a homage to them; if you listen to the lyrics, it's about someone leaving the band because they've given up the cause, and the two brothers will find a way through this."
The line, "The King is dead, rock is done," is a reference to Elvis.
Inspired by the death of rock 'n' roll legend Elvis Presley and the departures of bassist Andy Pyle and pianist John Gosling from The Kinks, this song finds Ray Davies questioning whether rock and roll is something mature adults should do.
Hello me, hello you, you say you want out
Want to start anew, throw in your hand
Break up the band, start a new life, be a new man
But for all we know, we might still have a way to go
Before you go, there's something you ought to know
The lyrics go on to describe a man named Dan living in Davies' block who is a huge fan of The Kinks. Whenever he feels unhappy, Dan loses himself in their music, "living in a rock 'n' roll fantasy."
By 1978 The Kinks may have been selling out Madison Square Garden, but they weren't altogether happy. "A Rock 'n' Roll Fantasy" details Ray Davies and his brother Dave considering breaking up the band. "The song is about two guys," Ray told Q Magazine. "Shall we call it a day?"
Released as the first single from Misfits
, the track was The Kinks' most successful single in the US since their 1970 top ten hit "Lola