Thank you for the days, Ray
The Kinks are dead, Long live the Kinks! Ray Davies should never have been at London's White City Stadium, on Sunday. Physically, and more important, mentally. Davies was in no fit condition to play. And in no fit condition to stand on a stage and say that he was quitting, He was a man neck-high in troubles, and when he shouted "I quit," he should have shouted "Help!" Then, for once, and for the most important time in his life, he would have seen just how much he is loved. And he needs to see that.
He should have seen his friends. "Have you heard" said the American girl in the artist's bar, dripping with showbiz, "Have you heard that Ray is quitting tonight?" Mick Avory still bore a smile. I said, Ray isn't well.... He could do anything. "Yes, but he IS going to, isn't he?" she persisted. There was Marion Rainford who stood at the Kinks dressing room door. Marion is the sixth Kink, as much a part of the Kinks as the Kinks. "He's in a dreadful state, Christ, he's in a dreadful state."
The facts are horribly simple and important: Ray's wife Rasa, and his two daughters had left, and disappeared three weeks ago. "They could be dead for all he knows. He doesn't know what he's doing. It was a bastard day and a bastard festival. Damp and friendless White City. The vultures picked the stage. Such a horrible thing has rock and roll now become. Security, ultra security, sound man, under assistant sound man, fat, rich hangers on. Daft women who pose with daft silly men. Ray picked a fine day to quit.
Kinks article, MM, 1964: "Everybody in the world thinks he is an authority on two business levels. His own, and show business."
Ray Davies, 1972: "Everybody's a dreamer, everybody's a star"
"They're really going to split tonight," said the American girl maybe 30 minutes later. Has he told you that? I asked. "No, but it's on," she said.
Ray Davies, 1965 "People have got to have something to talk about. A lot of people almost want me to breakup because they want to start a story."
It wasn't a nice place to be at. Sly and the Family Stone heading the bill, and Edgar Winter, too. The best dressing room for them. Who are they, for Christ Sakes? There's a man in this building who has written 16 hit singles. He's not surrounded by assistants, creative managers, and other hangers on. It's all on his shoulders, and they're drooping. He's trying his best to keep breathing, but his air is pumped thin by hideous vacuums. But he stands upright. And he is the finest person there.
Ray looked frightening in dark glasses for the sun wasn't shining. And limp under an overcoat. His face looked harrowed and worn. And his hair, usually shiny was dark and tangled. But he smiled and touched those he knew. The stage had been taken over by Americans. "Move over, Sly and the Family Stone want a clean stage" said the fat man in jeans and badges....."These are Ray's friends," said a girl. "They can't stand here," said the Los Angeles fatty. Ray and his little band of English people were being hassled.
It's a sad state of affairs when a genius like Ray Davies can't be treated with respect.
Ray Davies, 1967: "Maybe I'm too sensitive, but I tend to take what people say as being serious. I figure that if they say things against me - they must have a reason."
"He's silly and always drunk," said the person on the stage. "And, besides, they can't play." If he hadn't gone right then, he would have suffered a punch on the nose. "Hey man, can you move, you're steppin' on Sly Stone's leads."
Ray Davies, 1967: "I don't like the hassling, silly things in rock. I want to keep writing very English songs."
Marion was worried whether he'd turn up or not. He should have stayed away. He should have stayed away because this was a bastard concert. Two hours before Sly Stone was due on nobody else mattered as far as backstage antics went on. The ultracool brigade were in. Forty personnel and that was just for starters. "Ray is in a state of despair. The Kinks don't believe what he's saying. I don't believe what he's saying."
And the sky turned orange beneath the black clouds, and the wind turned cold as The Kinks took the stage. Avory dressed as he has always dressed. Dave Davies sporting stacklheel boots. John Gosling, ruddy from booze and big. Ray shot hurriedly across the stage in white bags and blazer, smiling quickly and took up his usual stance.
The set was hurried, but he moved the small audience more than it was moved all that day. He had them clapping. And they sang, and you could hear them. And he was the only person to do that. They sang "Lola." But Ray couldn't hear. He was a wreck that evening. "He feels that tours and concerts have split his married life," said Rainford. But he needn't tour. He doesn't have to. He's a genius, we'll come to him. He can take a year off and it won't matter. Can't he see that?"
MM 1968: "Ray Davies is happy when he's alone"
But he has to acknowledge that he's been put into this life to write for people. He couldn't stop entertaining. He couldn't stop appearing on stage. It would be a travesty.
MM 1966: "Ray is both bored and worried by legal wrangles."
More than anyone, Ray suffered at the hands of the moneymakers. He met the wrong people, and following that he took the whole business of the Kinks on his shoulders. It saved them from being cheated, but it put a massive load of problems on his back. He should have shared the problems.
Davies swore on stage. He stood at The White City and swore that he was "F......sick of the whole thing"....He was "Sick up to here with it".... and those that heard shook their heads. Mick just ventured a disbelieving smile, and drummer on through "Waterloo Sunset." The place sang.
Ray never changed. Through the years be never changed. He managed above all to stay the same. The temptations have been there to change. He never did. He saw to it himself that he never had to.
Ray Davies, 1971: "They said you can't be a pop singer with a gap in your teeth. They sent me to a bloke to have it filled up. And just as he was going to do it, I said 'No'. It's the most important decision I've ever made."
If you are going to go, Ray, and if you really want to, then thank you for the days. Nobody will press you to stay. Those who love you will let you make whatever decision you wish to make. But you must believe that if you leave, then there's precious little left. Think again, Ray. Think again.
Roy Hollingsworth, Melody Maker, 7/21/73