March , 1985
By David Huff
Ray Davies finally works out the Kinks
More than a dozen years ago, Ray Davies of the Kinks wrote a tune called "One of the Survivors," about a 50's greaser hanging on to the music of his youth. Now at 40, Davies apples the phrase to himself. His broken romance after three years with the Pretenders’ Chrissie Hynde produced a daughter, Natalie. She quickly moved on to marry Simple Minds lead singer Jim Kerr. On top of that, three was a creative dry spell and multitudes of personal and professional cataclysm's. The artist looks at the past with a matter-of-fact approach.
"I am one of the survivors of the world."
The Kinks' lead singer and songwriter sits on the floor in the corner of the hotel room, his back against the wall. "I'm not physically a strong person, and mentally I have my dull patches, but there's something inside me that is strong, and says that I will get through."
Davies is the undisputed leader of The Kinks, the London-based band that rose to fame in 1964 with the hits "You Really Got Me" and "All Day and All of the Night." Hit ballads and social satire followed, but the band didn't come back into the limelight until the 1970's hits "Lola" and "Apeman."
During the past 20 years, the group has continuously bordered on the line of superstardom, but the elusive goal has yet to be crossed. The classic songs have been few and far between, and the one iconic album just never materialized. However, that’s not to say the Kinks haven't lacked for controversy over the decades.
Though the band charted the 1983 hit, "Come Dancing," at No. 6 nationally, the past year and a half have not been easy for Davies or the band itself.
First there were personnel problems that saw founding drummer Mick Avory leave the group to be replaced by Bob Henrit. Longtime tensions between the Davies brothers erupted. Younger sibling Dave threatened to leave the band. “I love him” says Ray, “but sometimes when I realize he's family, well, I really don't like family."
An erroneous announcement of a Kinks break-up ensued. Bassist Jim Rodford recalls the incident where situations between the brothers were indeed quite tense.
During this break in action, Ray Davies spent his time working on a 35mm film he wrote and directed that aired last year on British TV. The movie is a hallucinogenic meditation on broken marriages, teen-age runaways, old fogies, young punks and commuter trains. Look for a release in the U.S. this month.
The biggest news with Davies this past year that has even overridden the critical acclaim the band’s new album, Word of Mouth, is receiving, was Davies' volatile, three-year relationship with Pretenders' Chrissie Hynde that completely broke apart. And in a blink of an eye, Hynde was suddenly married to Simple Minds singer Jim Kerr in a New York buggy wedding. That not only left the music world stunned, but Davies speechless. He's called it the worse day of his life.
"It was a sunny day," recalled Davies about the sudden May 5, 1983 wedding involving Kerr and Hynde, "and all of a sudden everything went black and white. It was a bad day. I felt lied to, but there was more going on. Obviously our relationship ended abruptly. All of it came to a head on one day."
Davies found out about the wedding through the press that had called him up to get his reaction. They got more than they bargained for.
"The rumor and gossip that I have been exposed to in this past year is the most evil force imaginable," continued Davies. "I found in my band situation and maybe in my personal life, messages were coming through people and that is the most evil way of dealing with things."
That rage and frustration exploded onto the Kinks new album which produced out of songwriter some of the finest material he's written since the Low Budget album in 1979. Word of Mouth captures many of the emotions and anger, futility and perseverance that Davies has had to personally deal with since his life temporarily came tumbling down around him.
"Nobody would swap happiness for a tune," says Davies, who does admit that he is particularly proud of the Kinks latest effort and especially one tune, "Good Morning," an uplifting, melancholy tune that implies one has no choice but to carry on and hope for better times.
Are good times ahead for this controversial and erratically brilliant band? Davies says he is beginning to experience a renewed creative burst both professionally and personally.
"I feel that there is a period of experimentation coming up that will totally consume," confesses Davies. "I feel really good playing on stage and in my personal life I think that I am in love. What's happened this past year has been like a fairy tale, but now I am really happy."