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Davies, Ray

Ray Davies

Singer, songwriter, guitarist

According to People critic Michael Small, "during more than two decades," British rock musician and composer Ray Davies has "written some of the most clever, sexy and thoughtful pop-rock songs ever," and helped make the Kinks "one of the coolest rock bands in history." As the driving force behind the Kinks—a group which has also included Ray's brother Dave Davies and artists Mick Avory, Peter Quaife, and John Gosling—Davies has brought rock fans hits like "You Really Got Me," "Lola," "Destroyer," and "Come Dancing." Though other members of the Kinks have come and gone, Davies has always served as the band's leader, and as such has released over 40 albums, including concept discs, rock operas, and outstanding live recordings. He has also earned the respect of his peers; in another People article Small quoted Davies's fellow rock star Pete Townshend of the Who as saying that when it came to lyrics, "in British rock Ray Davies is our only true and natural genius."

Davies was born on June 21, 1944, in the Muswell Hill area of London. He was introverted as a child, but during his adolescence developed an affinity for soccer and considered becoming a professional player. He was also deeply interested in music, and learned to play the guitar and piano. Especially fond of the blues, he listened to recordings of the genre's greats, including Leadbelly and Bill Broonzy. When Davies was 16 he began playing rhythm and blues numbers in local bars with his younger brother Dave. He also performed in a local group called the Dave Hunt Band. Nevertheless, Davies did not look toward music as a career; after completing secondary school he enrolled in college to major in drama and fine arts.

Davies did not last long at college, however, and at the age of 19 dropped out to join the Ravens, a band in which his brother played. The Ravens played straight-forward rock and roll in the style of American rock pioneer Chuck Berry. As Small put it, "With their wildly ragged sound and long hair, the Ravens became a hot act at society parties." Davies almost immediately assumed leadership of the band, which met with rapid success and was signed to a contract with Pye Records. In the early days, Davies took to wearing mismatched outfits; someone took note of one clashing ensemble at a recording session and labeled him a "kink." Davies explained to Small: "He meant it as a put-down, but I thought, ‘Why the hell not use the name?’" Thus the Ravens became the Kinks, just in time for the release of their first album, You Really Got Me, which in 1964 was issued in the United States on the Reprise label.

"You Really Got Me" Reached Number One

Although the first two singles from the album did nothing on the charts, Davies's confidence in his abilities was undiminished. One of the Kinks' producers had come up with what Small described as a "polished version" of the title track, "full of the overdubs and echoes that were popular in 1964," and wanted the band to release it. But Davies insisted on his rougher-sounding original and, as he recounted for Small, told the producers, "If you release this, I'm never going to make another record." He got his way, and "You Really Got Me" soared to number one in England; it also fared well in the United States. The song contained what Small deemed "an aggressive guitar sound that became a mainstay of heavy metal."

"You Really Got Me" was followed by the hits "All Day and All of the Night," "Who'll Be the Next in Line," and "Tired of Waiting for You." But Davies did not restrict himself to straight rock; he also composed satires on society and fashion, including "Well Respected Man" and "Dedicated Follower of Fashion." While the Kinks churned out hits, they also gained a reputation as rowdy and violent concert performers, often fighting amongst themselves on stage, with conflicts between the Davies brothers the primary root of these battles. Though the circumstances are still cloudy, Davies believed it was this behavior that caused the American Federation of Musicians to bar the Kinks from playing in the United States from 1966 to 1968.

Perhaps because they were not allowed to promote their releases in the United States, Davies and the Kinks fell into something of a popular slump during the late 1960s. Despite rave reviews from critics for their 1969 rock concept album Arthur, which was compared favorably with the Who's rock opera Tommy, the work yielded only the moderate hit single "Victoria." The band came back in a big way, however, with their 1970 album Lola versus Powerman and the Moneygoround. The smash hit single "Lola" was controversial as the first pop hit to deal openly with transvestitism and homosexuality. Although Small claimed that the infamous lyric "I know what I am and I'm glad I'm a man and so is Lola" is "ambiguous—was Lola glad the narrator was a man, or was Lola also a man?"—Davies confided that the song was inspired by an incident from his own life that took place in a French nightclub. "One night I was dancing with this really attractive woman till dawn," he explained to Small. "Then she said, ‘Come on back to my place,’ and I said, ‘Okay.’ It wasn't until we got in the daylight that I saw the stubble on her chin. So I blew that one off."

Returned to Kinks in 1975

During the early 1970s the Kinks returned to concept albums. Davies revived the character Mr. Flash from the band's 1969 effort The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society, for the albums Preservation, Act I and Preservation, Act II. Like Arthur, these albums were more warmly received by critics than by fans. Soap Opera, the Kinks' early 1975 concept release, fared slightly better, but Schoolboys in Disgrace—a set of unrelated songs that came out later that year—was even more popular. Schoolboys marked the return of Dave Davies to the Kinks; he had left the band in 1973 over disagreements with his brother.

Despite other personnel changes, including the loss of longtime drummer Mick Avory, again due to personality conflicts, Davies and the Kinks continued to produce hits throughout the 1980s, among them "Destroyer" and "Come Dancing." In between projects, Davies produced and wrote a soundtrack for the 1985 BBC tele-film Return to Waterloo, which paved the way for his solo years. They led off the 1990s with the album UK Jive, which prompted Small in a third People review to assert that Davies's music "still comes straight from the heart, the gut, and the soul." His impressive musical achievements notwithstanding, Davies modestly told Small: "I don't feel I've done enough with my life. I don't want to be known only as a guy who made hit records."

The Kinks have lain dormant since 1996. Since then, Ray Davies has defined himself as an eclectic solo artist. The completion of X-Ray: The Unauthorized Autobiography, which was written in a fictional interview style by Davies himself, seemed to mark a turning point in his career. The Storyteller, the 1998 disc for EMI/Capitol, was more or less an adjunct to his eccentric one-man show, To the Bone, and to his collection of short prose pieces collected in 1996's Waterloo Sunset Stories. Both featured biographical passages and witty, erudite portraits in song. Despite his creative invention, the album was a poor seller and Davies would not release another disc for several years.

Accident Sparked Creative Resurgence

During the interim, Davies saw a resurgence of interest in the original Kinks sides and engineered deals for the re-licensing of their material. However, he was not making much music on his own. "I had lost confidence in my own abilities to make records," Davies told Austin Scaggs of Rolling Stone. After moving to New Orleans, he began to write music again. Unfortunately, a 2004 mugging incident, during which Davies tried to chase a thief who had snatched his girlfriend's purse, resulted in the singer-songwriter being shot in the leg. The recovery process, however, inspired Davies to return to music full-time. "That accident gave me the strength to come back and play," he told Scaggs. "You know, this record is worth doing because it's better than doing nothing."

For the Record …

Born Raymond Douglas Davies (surname pronounced "Davis") on June 21, 1944, in Muswell Hill, London, England; son of a gardener and a homemaker; married Rasa Dictpatris c. 1964 (divorced, 1973); married Yvonne Gunner (a teacher), 1976 (divorced c. 1980); married Pat Crosbie (a ballet dancer); children: two daughters from first marriage; one (Natalie) with singer Chrissie Hynde. Education: Attended art school.

Singer, songwriter, guitarist. Played during the early 1960s with the Dave Hunt Band; joined the Ravens, c. 1963; member of the Kinks (previously the Ravens), 1964-1996; wrote his autobiography X-Ray, 1995; toured with the one-man show To the Bone, 1995; recorded as a solo artist for Arista, Capitol, V2, and New West Records, and his songs have been featured on the soundtracks of numerous motion pictures.

Awards: Inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (as member of the Kinks), 1990; Ivor Novello Award for Outstanding Contribution to British Music, 1990; named a Commander of the Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II, 2004; inducted into UK Music Hall of Fame (as member of the Kinks), 2005; BMI Icon Award, BMI London Awards, 2006.

Addresses: Record company—New West Records, P.O. Box 33156, Austin, TX 78764-0156, Web site: http://www.newwestrecords.com.

Davies's 2006 album, Other People's Lives, for V2 demonstrated his continued mastery of lyrical imagery within a catchy tune. Tackling dark subjects in his trademark tongue-in-cheek fashion, he took on tabloid journalism, alcoholism, suicide, and tortured romance. Reviewing for Rolling Stone, David Fricke summed up: "It is a cocky, winning performance by a singer-songwriter who, on this album, for the first time in his rock & roll life, is truly on his own. But Davies is, as he once wrote and sang, ‘one of the survivors.’ We are lucky to still have him."

The strong reviews and decent sales figures seem to have spurred the former Kink into a fresh career cycle. Signing on with the independent New West label, Davies released Working Man's Cafe in 2008. Working with a jazzy mix of acoustic instruments and horns, he mixed songs about globalization, prospects for peace, his impact on younger artists, and even the fateful night when he was shot in the leg. "I just want to make good music," he told Steve Appleford of the LA Times. "If it engages some of the real life things that have happened to me, that's quite good, I've rarely done that."

Selected discography

You Really Got Me, Reprise, 1964.

Kinks-Size, Reprise, 1965.

Kinda Kinks, Reprise, 1965.

Kinks Kinkdom, Reprise, 1965.

Kink Kontroversy, Reprise, 1966.

Greatest Hits!, Reprise, 1966.

Face to Face, Reprise, 1967.

"Live" Kinks, Reprise, 1967.

Something Else, Reprise, 1968.

Four More Respected Gentlemen, Reprise, 1968.

The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society, Reprise, 1969.

Arthur, Reprise, 1969.

Lola versus Powerman and the Moneygoround, Reprise, 1970.

Muswell Hillbillies, RCA, 1971.

Kink Kronicles, Reprise, 1972.

Everybody's in Showbiz, RCA, 1972.

The Great Lost Kinks Album, Reprise, 1973.

Preservation, Act I, RCA, 1973.

Preservation, Act II, RCA, 1974.

Soap Opera, RCA, 1975.

Schoolboys in Disgrace, RCA, 1975.

Celluloid Heroes—The Kinks' Greatest, RCA, 1976.

Sleepwalker, Arista, 1977.

Misfits, Arista, 1978.

Low Budget, Arista, 1979.

One for the Road, Arista, 1980.

Second Time Around, RCA, 1980.

Give the People What They Want, Arista, 1981.

Word of Mouth, Arista, 1984.

(Solo)Return to Waterloo, Arista, 1985.

Think Visual, MCA, 1986.

UK Jive, MCA, 1990.

(Solo) The Storyteller, Capitol, 1998.

(Solo) Other People's Lives, V2, 2006.

(Solo) Working Man's Cafe, New West, 2007.

Sources

Books

Rees, Dafydd, and Luke Crampton, Vh1 Music First: Rock Stars Encyclopedia, DK, 1999.

Periodicals

People, May 11, 1987; July 6, 1987; February 19, 1990.

Rolling Stone, January 15, 1987.

Online

"Kinks Frontman Ray Davies Takes Top Honor at BMI London Awards," BMI News,http://www.BMI.com/news/entry/334992 (October 3, 2006).

"More Names Join UK Music Hall of Fame," NME.com,http://www.nme.com/news/new-order/21281 (October 18, 2005).

"Other People's Lives review," Rolling Stone.com,http://www.rollingstone.com (February 15, 2006).

"Ray Davies," All Music Guide,http://www.allmusic.com (June 17, 2008).

"Ray Davies," Internet Movie Database,http://www.imdb.com (June 16, 2008).

"Ray Davies News Lives," Rolling Stone.com,http://www.rollingstone.com/news/qa/story/9257408/ray_davies_new_lives/print (February 10, 2006).

"Ray Davies wants to get the Kinks out," LA Times,http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/news/music/la-et-davies31,1,250906.story (March 31, 2008).

—Elizabeth Wenning and Ken Burke

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Davies, Ray

Ray Davies

Singer, songwriter, guitarist

For the Record

Selected discography

Sources

During more than two decades, according to People critic Michael Small, British rock musician and composer Ray Davies has written some of the most clever, sexy and thoughtful pop-rock songs ever, and helped make the Kinks one of the coolest rock bands in history. As the driving force behind the Kinksa group which has also included Rays brother Dave Davies and artists Mick Avory, Peter Quaife, and John GoslingDavies has brought rock fans hits like You Really Got Me, Lola, Destroyer, and Come Dancing. Though other members of the Kinks have come and gone, Davies has always served as the bands leader and as such, has released over 40 albums, including concept discs, rock operas, and outstanding live recordings. He has also earned the respect of his peers; in another People article Small quoted Daviess fellow rock star Pete Townshend of the Who as saying that when it came to lyrics, in British rock Ray Davies is our only true and natural genius.

Davies was born June 21, 1944, in the Muswell Hill area of London. He was introverted as a child, but during his adolescence developed an affinity for soccer and considered becoming a professional player. He was also deeply interested in music, and learned to play the guitar and piano. Especially fond of the blues, he listened to recordings of the genres greats, including Leadbelly and Bill Broonzy. When Davies was 16 he began playing rhythm and blues numbers in local bars with his younger brother Dave. He also performed in a local group called the Dave Hunt Band. Nevertheless, Davies did not look toward music as a career; after completing secondary schooling he enrolled in college to major in drama and fine arts.

Davies did not last long at college, however, and at the age of 19 dropped out to join the Ravens, a band in which his brother played. The Ravens played straightforward rock and roll in the style of American rock pioneer Chuck Berry. As Small put it, with their wildly ragged sound and long hair, the Ravens became a hot act at society parties. Davies almost immediately assumed leadership of the band, which met with rapid success and was signed to a contract with Pye Records. In the early days Davies took to wearing mismatched outfits; someone took note of one clashing ensemble at a recording session and labeled him a kink. Davies explained to Small: He meant it as a put-down, but I thought, Why the hell not use the name? Thus the Ravens became the Kinks, just in time for the release of their first album, You Really Got Me, which in 1964 was issued in the United States on the Reprise label.

Although the first two singles from the album did nothing on the charts, Daviess confidence in his abilities

For the Record

Full name, Raymond Douglas Davies; surname pronounced Davis; born June 21, 1944, in Muswell Hill, London, England; son of a gardener and a homemaker; married Rasa Dictpatris c. 1964 (divorced, 1973); married Yvonne Gunner (a teacher), 1976 (divorced c. 1980); married Pat Crosbie (a ballet dancer); children: (first marriage) two daughters, one named Louisa; (with singer Chrissie Hynde) Natalie. Education: Attended art school.

Singer, songwriter, guitarist. Played during the early 1960s with the Dave Hunt Band; joined the Ravens, c. 1963; member of the Kinks (previously the Ravens), 1964. Has recorded most recently with MCA Records.

Addresses: Record company MCA Records, Inc., 70 Universal City Plaza, Universal City, CA 91608.

was undiminished. One of the Kinks producers had come up with what Small described as a polished version of the title track, full of the overdubs and echoes that were popular in 1964, and wanted the band to release it. But Davies insisted on his rougher-sounding original, and, as he recounted for Small, told the producers, If you release this, Im never going to make another record. He got his way and You Really Got Me soared to Number One in England; it also fared well in the U.S. The song contained what Small deemed an aggressive guitar sound that became a mainstay of heavy metal.

You Really Got Me was followed by the hits All Day and All of the Night, Wholl Be the Next in Line, and Tired of Waiting for You. But Davies did not restrict himself to straight rock; he also composed satires on society and fashion, including Well Respected Man and Dedicated Follower of Fashion. While the Kinks churned out hits, they also gained a reputation as rowdy and violent concert performers, often fighting amongst themselves on stageconflicts between the Davies brothers the primary root of these battles. Though the circumstances are still cloudy, Davies believes it was this behavior that caused the American Federation of Musicians to bar the Kinks from playing in the United States from 1966 to 1968.

Perhaps because they were not allowed to promote their releases in the U.S., Davies and the Kinks fell into something of a popular slump during the late 1960s. Despite rave reviews from critics for their 1969 rock concept album Arthur, which was compared favorably with the Whos rock opera Tommy, the work yielded only the moderate hit single Victoria. The band came back in a big way, however, with their 1970 album Lola versus Powerman and the Money goround. The smash hit single Lola was controversial as the first pop hit to deal blatantly with transvestitism and homosexuality. Although Small claimed that the infamous lyric I know what I am and Im glad Im a man and so is Lola is ambiguouswas Lola glad the narrator was a man, or was Lola also a man?Davies confided that the song was inspired by an incident from his own life that took place in a French nightclub. One night I was dancing with this really attractive woman till dawn, he explained to Small. Then she said, Come on back to my place, and I said, Okay. It wasnt until we got in the daylight that I saw the stubble on her chin. So I blew that one off.

During the early 1970s the Kinks returned to concept albums. Davies revived the character Mr. Flash from the bands 1969 effort, The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society, for the albums Preservation, Act I and Preservation, Act II; like Arthur these were more warmly received by critics than fans. Soap Opera, the Kinks early 1975 concept release fared slightly better, but Schoolboys in Disgrace a set of unrelated songs that came out later that yearwas even more popular. Schoolboys marked the return of Dave Davies to the Kinks; he had left the band in 1973 over disagreements with his brother.

Despite other personnel changes, including the loss of longtime drummer Mick Avoryagain due to personality conflictsDavies and the Kinks continued to produce hits throughout the 1980s, among them Destroyer and Come Dancing. They led off the 1990s with the album UK Jive, which prompted Small in a third People review to assert that Daviess music still comes straight from the heart, the gut, and the soul. His impressive musical achievements notwithstanding, Davies modestly told Small: I dont feel Ive done enough with my life. I dont want to be known only as a guy who made hit records.

Selected discography

You Really Got Me, Reprise, 1964.

Kinks-Size, Reprise, 1965.

Kinda Kinks, Reprise, 1965.

Kinks Kinkdom, Reprise, 1965.

Kink Kontroversy, Reprise, 1966.

Greatest Hits! Reprise, 1966.

Face to Face, Reprise, 1967.

"Live" Kinks, Reprise, 1967.

Something Else, Reprise, 1968.

Four More Respected Gentlemen, Reprise, 1968.

The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society, Reprise, 1969.

Arthur, Reprise, 1969.

Lola versus Powerman and the Moneygoround, Reprise, 1970.

Muswell Hillbillies, RCA, 1971.

Kink Kronicles, Reprise, 1972.

Everybodys in Showbiz, RCA, 1972.

The Great Lost Kinks Album, Reprise, 1973.

Preservation, Act I, RCA, 1973.

Preservation, Act II, RCA, 1974.

Soap Opera, RCA, 1975.

Schoolboys in Disgrace, RCA, 1975.

Celluloid HeroesThe Kinks Greatest, RCA, 1976.

Sleepwalker, Arista, 1977.

Misfits, Arista, 1978.

Low Budget, Arista, 1979.

One for the Road, Arista, 1980.

Second Time Around, RCA, 1980.

Give the People What They Want, Arista, 1981.

Word of Mouth, Arista, 1984.

Think Visual, MCA, 1986.

UK Jive, MCA, 1990.

Sources

People, May 11, 1987; July 6, 1987; February 19, 1990.

Rolling Stone, January 15, 1987.

Elizabeth Wenning

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Davies, Ray." Contemporary Musicians. . Encyclopedia.com. 11 Dec. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Davies, Ray." Contemporary Musicians. . Encyclopedia.com. (December 11, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/davies-ray

"Davies, Ray." Contemporary Musicians. . Retrieved December 11, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/davies-ray