Ray Davies, lead singer of the Kinks, explains how the band’s turbulent youth influenced their landmark 60th anniversary album, The Journey Part 1.


“I WAS terrible at maths,” admits Ray Davies.

The lead singer, primary songwriter, and storyteller for The Kinks is digging deep into his hazy memory bank to recall his troubled high school years.


Recalling his teenage self, Ray says: 'I was a pain in the arse. I thought I knew how to do it all'


Despite his reluctance, Ray quickly became The Kinks’ principal singer with Dave occasionally stepping up


My teacher would yank my hair out or make me stand on my tiptoes because I was so bad at it. . . standard suffering,” he elaborates.

“Nowadays, he’d be taken to court.”

Ray and his classmates, including his younger brother and bandmate Dave, fell into one of two groups, in his recollection.

“You were either good or bad.

“I was in the bad sector and justice was swift!”

Ray did, however, show promise as a young adult writer.

I was off in my own little world, he continues. “I still am,” added.

Therefore, at least a couple of songs came out of the gloomy times at William Grimshaw Secondary Modern School in Muswell Hill, North London.

The Hard Way and I’m In Disgrace are two songs that were originally released on a concept album in 1975 and are now included on the new Kinks album, The Journey Part 1.

The 36-song box set is themed around the 60th anniversary of the bands that were as popular as The Beatles and The Rolling Stones in the 1960s.

Ray, Dave, and Mick Avory (the band’s drummer from 1964 to 1984) have put together the first “best of” compilation in the band’s history.

The album features well-known songs like “You Really Got Me” and “Waterloo Sunset” alongside intriguing cuts from the band’s back catalog.

Thanks to the album’s release, I was able to reconnect with Sir Raymond Douglas Davies, 78, the only British songwriter who can compete with John Lennon and Paul McCartney.

He thinks back to the talented teenager he was when he and his friends Dave and Mick and the late bassist Pete Quaife formed The Kinks.

“I was a pain in the arse,” he confesses.

“I thought I knew how to do it all.

When you’re a teenager, you’re convinced that your perspective is the only one that matters.

“I listened to some people, but I was very picky about which ones.”

As for the band, he adds: “We were mates.

Both my brother and my best friend played guitar and bass, respectively.

We couldn’t hold it against Mick that he was from South London.

There’s no way we would’ve made it without being friends.

Ray explains to me why he didn’t like being the focus of The Kinks’ attention.

Before headphones became commonplace, listening to music was more of a communal experience for children growing up in the decades following World War II.

Great country guitarist Chet Atkins, pioneering bluesman Big Bill Broonzy, and an Indiana native named Tal Farlow were my three musical inspirations growing up.

I aspired to be like Farlow, who “sidled up to the side, guitar in hand, and let others do the heavy lifting.”

Ray quickly replaced Dave as The Kinks’ primary singer, despite Dave’s initial reluctance to join the band.

‘Too aggressive’

I thought there was too much responsibility in being a frontman, so I tried to give the job to Dave, but he didn’t accept it,” he says.

Also, back in the day of proper etiquette, the Pye record label thought I had good diction. People kept telling me, “My dear boy, you should be the singer.”

Ray was also greatly influenced by the groundbreaking Fab Four, who led the “British Invasion” to America with a series of exciting hits.

He says, “I was in art school when The Beatles came out, and they completely blew my mind.”

I remember thinking, “This is a great vocal sound,” after hearing their first two albums, Please Please Me and With The Beatles. The version of Money (That’s What I Want) by John Lennon was fantastic.

The simple girl-meets-boy love song was left in the dust by The Kinks’ early triumphs and the rapid development of Ray’s lyricism, but the band always provided something new.

This helps to explain his enduring fame: his works explored not only the ebb and flow of romantic attraction, but also culture, fashion, and the gap between social classes.

Who could forget his depiction of Terry and Julie, staring into Waterloo Sunset, or his window into the lives of a struggling couple on Dead End Street?

What about his wistful daydreams about a bygone era in England?

Whenever we discuss a song, Ray always has a great story to share about it.

Let’s begin with the song that launched his career as the frontman of The Kinks: the riff-driven smash hit You Really Got Me, which he penned at the tender age of 19.

“When I was a teenager, I was just a guitar player, but I wanted to put together an orchestra of guitars,” he explains.

The idea for the You Really Got Me riff came to me out of nowhere, and Dave provided the electric guitar sound.

The record label balked at releasing it because they deemed it “too aggressive.”

I have no idea what they would do with it in this day and age.

It has been said that You Really Got Me was a turning point for hard rock.

Although the song may appear as one-dimensional as heavy metal, Ray explains, “I came from a more R&B background, and people overlook the subtle rhythm underneath.”

He still remembers the first time he heard The Kinks play it on TV.

This regular Jane gave it a perfect score of five stars on Jukebox Jury.

The guys in the band, like many groups of their era, were intent on putting their best fashion foot forward.

The original line-up of the band performing on TV


Who can forget Ray's portrayal of lovers Terry and Julie gazing on Waterloo Sunset


While including major hits such as You Really Got Me and Waterloo Sunset, the album also finds room for intriguing deeper dives into The Kinks’ back catalogue


“Yeah, the hunting jackets,” muses Ray.

“After You Really Got Me became popular, we went to Australia, where the temperature was over one hundred degrees, and performed at a concert while bundled up in those thick jackets.”

The record label was eager to capitalize when their third single went to the top of the UK charts.

Ray explains, “You Really Got Me was falling in the charts, so they were looking for a replacement.

“Before we left for the show in Birmingham, I was fiddling around on the piano and came up with a riff.”

Ray had already cracked All Day and All Night by the time they arrived.

We played it during soundcheck, performed it live, and returned to London to record it the following day.

We couldn’t have achieved the same level of success with more planning.

Ray offers a telling explanation for this sudden outpouring of creativity: “With songs that I wrote right away, I’d already planted ideas and thoughts in my head.”

Like a traveling salesman, “I picked them when I needed them to come out.”

Then, we talk about the song Tired of Waiting for You, which Ray claims is about waiting for the 102 bus just as much as it is about a girl.

We recorded the instrumental track, and while riding the subway to Oxford Street for a date, I composed the lyrics.

Ray reflects on the time he played Wait Till The Summer Comes Along for his older sister Rosie, who “was like a parent to me,” but who eventually moved to Australia.

She didn’t have anything to say about the album itself (though she probably enjoyed it), but she did warn Raymond that David “gets into all sorts of trouble” on tour if he isn’t closely watched.

“I promised that I would do my best. I took care of him, and for that I paid the price.

‘Broken jaw and nose’

Despite some sibling friction over the past 60 years, it’s great that Ray and Dave collaborated on the new Kinks compilation.

With the help of email, my older brother and I are able to maintain a good, albeit distant, relationship.

Ray, the second-to-last of eight children, has never forgotten his working-class upbringing in North London (Dave was the youngest).

His early song “Dead End Street” was one of the first to reflect this reality, and it reflected his understanding of the hardships people faced in postwar Britain.

“I listened to adults a lot as a kid,” he says.

“When I was 19, I had a mental age of 50!

I listened intently as elders recounted their experiences during World War II and The Great Depression.

A lot of the grime and cruelty of life were hidden during the ’60s because everyone was so focused on finding joy.

“I looked up to my elders and tried to make a record that was true to their era,” he said.

Here we are at Waterloo Sunset, Ray’s crowning musical achievement.

“It comes from two experiences,” he says.

A broken jaw and nose landed me in the hospital when I was around 14 years old.

My tracheotomy balloon burst during the night, and I could feel my airway closing up.

After a miraculous recovery, the next morning I was taken outside and placed on a balcony with a view of the Thames and Parliament.

Years later, I took my first wife on a walk across the river and up to Waterloo, and I still remember that view.

The resulting song, Waterloo Sunset, was released as a single in 1967 and served as the album’s closer.

Ray: “To me, it’s a very simple song, I woke up one morning singing it and jotted it down in the notebook I used to keep beside my bed.

A 14-year-old version of myself stands on the balcony, surveying the future.

Our focus now shifts to Days, a beautiful but elusive composition by Ray.

The band pictured on Top Of The Pops in May 1967


Ray and Dave have worked on the new Kinks compilation despite a fair amount of sibling turbulence across the 60 years


After some consideration, Rays concludes, “It fits into the category of break-up songs.”

That’s not all, though. The topic could be about grieving the loss of a loved one or a treasured possession.

“I felt a deep emotion last week. Then, Ray discusses the 1972 hit by The Kinks, Supersonic Rocket Ship, an evocative description of a trip on Concorde he organized to help him meet a deadline.

It took him three days to complete the album, Everybody’s In Show-Biz, and then he had to take it to New York to be mastered.

I hopped in a cab as soon as I left the studio and took off for the airport.

A different universe. When they passed the champagne, I politely declined and asked instead for two aspirin.

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The rest of the trip I was sound asleep. I was sleeping and the next thing I knew, I was next to Warren Beatty!

As you have probably guessed. Stories and songs are never far away when Ray Davies is around.

The themed 36-track set celebrates the 60th anniversary of the chart sensations who gave The Beatles and the Rolling Stones a run for their money in the Sixties



The Journey Part 1



Micheal Kurt

I earned a bachelor's degree in exercise and sport science from Oregon State University. He is an avid sports lover who enjoys tennis, football, and a variety of other activities. He is from Tucson, Arizona, and is a huge Cardinals supporter.

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