Ray Davies: Biography
Ray Davies, the genius behind the long history of the Kinks, is still going strong. No story on Mr. Davies would be complete without a Kinks history.
No story on Raymond Douglas Davies would be complete without a history of The Kinks, the major vehicle for Ray Davies' songwriting talent. Ray got involved with music while he was still attending art school in England.
The Ray Davies Quartet was born in London in 1962 with Ray Davies (vocals and guitar), Dave Davies (lead guitar), Pete Quaife (bass) and John Start (drums). In 1963 the name was changed to the Ravens and Mick Avory was hired to replace Start. They first appeared as the Kinks on December 31, 1963. They signed with Pye Records the next year.
The band released a couple of singles that went nowhere before recording "You Really Got Me" in 1964. The song was a number 1 hit in England and climbed all the way to number 7 in the United States. The next year "All Day and All of the Night" and "Tired of Waiting for You" hit the Top Ten in the U.S.
In 1966 the Kinks released two singles which signaled a new direction for Ray Davies. "A Well Respected Man" and "Dedicated Follower of Fashion," fit well into the anti establishment mood of the time. Their next album, The Kinks Kontroversy, contained another hit 45, "Till the End of the Day". Songwriter Ray was becoming more introspective with songs like "I’m on an Island." "Sunny Afternoon" (1966) was their last hit of the early sixties.
An appearance on the TV show Hullabaloo caused a problem with the American Federation of Musicians that was only resolved in 1969 and stopped the group from touring the U.S. During their U.S. exile, Ray Davies became more reflective and wrote two concept albums: “The Kinks Are” and
“The Village Green Preservation Society “(1969), a nostalgic look at English customs.
"Arthur, or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire” was The Kinks’ next LP. It was an early rock opera, written for a TV show that never saw the light. The Kinks’ next concept album, Lola Versus Powerman and the Moneygoround, Part One (1970), was the story of the highs and lows of the music business. "Lola," groundbreaking subject matter for the time was the hit from that album. The group continued to work on concept albums, but without hits. It got a reputation as a good time drinking band. Kinks shows were known for sloppy musicianship and onstage arguments between brothers Ray and Dave. This was chronicled on “Everybody’s in Show-Biz”, a double album of road songs and a live set.
Concept albums became soundtracks for theatrical works by the Kinks in the next few years. Preservation Acts 1 and 2, Soap Opera, and Schoolboys in Disgrace were all written for theatre performance, complete with horn players and singers. For all of their effort and elaborate shows, the Kinks weren’t selling.
The Kinks left concept albums behind in 1976. They had a hit in 1978 with "A Rock ‘n’ Roll Fantasy" (1978). Low Budget (1979), with hit "(Wish I Could Fly Like) Superman" (1979), was the Kinks’ first gold record since their Reprise greatest-hits album of their early sixties hits.
The group hired former Argent bassist Jim Rodford in 1978 and scored a success with One for the Road (1980), a double live album that came with a video. It went gold, as did Give the People What They Want (1981). The Kinks’ “State of Confusion” (1983), gave the group its first top ten hit since "Lola": "Come Dancing". A ballad, "Don’t Forget to Dance," cracked the top thirty later that same year.
None of the band’s next albums sold well, but the Kinks continued touring. In 1990 The Kinks were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and in 1993 the group toured the U.S. promote “Phobia”. The album’s first single, "Hatred (A Duet)," poked fun at the longstanding antagonism between Ray and Dave Davies that led both brothers to quit the band more than once. In 1995 The Kinks’ released To the Bone in England, a live studio recording of many of their hits.
RAY DAVIES (born June 21, 1944)
Many of Ray Davies songs become hits for bands like The Jam, Van Halen, The Pretenders and The Stranglers. Ray Davies has also produced two albums by Claire Hamill and wrote the music for the films “The Virgin Soldiers” and “Percy”. Ray also had a daughter, Natalie, with Chrissie Hynde of the Pretenders in 1983.
He got the lead part in the television play The Long Distance Piano Player and was resident composer for the BBC television series 'The 11th Hour' and ‘Where Was Spring'. In 1981 Davies worked together with Barrie Keefe on the musical “Chorus Girls”, and in 1988 wrote 80 days with Snoo Wilson, produced and directed by Des McAnuff at the La Jolla Playhouse. Ray Davies wrote, composed and directed the award winning television movie 'Return To Waterloo'. He composed and performed the song 'Quiet Life' for the film “Absolute Beginners” which was directed by Julien Temple.
In 1995 Davies published his unauthorized autobiography, X-Ray and toured with his one-man show 'The Storyteller'. His first solo album, 'The Storyteller' contains music and prose from that show. The idea for the Storyteller show came while Davies was doing signings to promote X-Ray'. Someone suggested that, since his songs were closely linked to his life, it would be a good idea to record some of these songs with the readings.
The New Millenium
Ray did four shows in Dublin in May 2000 and has been working on the script for the "Come Dancing" musical at The National Theatre in London to be staged in late 2000 or early 2001.
Ray has a demo ready for his new label, Capitol/EMI and hopes to be in the US in July and August. He was scheduled to play The Blues and Jazz festival in Reykjavik, Iceland on June 10th.