Ray Davies: “America has finally accepted The Kinks”

Ray Davies made an appearance at the Hay Festival on Tuesday, May 26. During the interview, Davies discussed his forthcoming induction into the American Songwriters' Hall of Fame on June 12 and his ongoing relationship with the US. According to The Telegraph Davies told the Hay Festival audience that the honour was "a big deal because it means that America has finally accepted the Kinks".

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Ray Davies made an appearance at the Hay Festival on Tuesday, May 26.

During the interview, Davies discussed his forthcoming induction into the American Songwriters’ Hall of Fame on June 12 and his ongoing relationship with the US.

According to The Telegraph Davies told the Hay Festival audience that the honour was “a big deal because it means that America has finally accepted the Kinks”.

Following a string of bust-ups, The Kinks were banned from performing in the United States for nearly five years before being allowed back into the country in 1969. “We were dangerous and America felt threatened,” Davies said. “America felt safe until all the Brit bands like us and the Beatles and the Rolling Stones came along in the Sixties. But we helped change America, too. When we returned after the end of our ban the culture had been liberalised. Bands such as the Doors, Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention had grabbed back their culture.”

It took a lot of hard work by Ray Davies and his brother Dave to gain popularity, in arduous tours that Davies said were planned like a “military exercise”. The motivation was “vengeance” he added.

The American ban turned out to have a positive impact on the band’s musical output. Davies, who will be 70 next month, believes that it allowed him to focus on creating his own English songs of identity.

However, Davies said that America has still had a profound influence on his life. His new book, Americana: The Kinks, the Road and the Perfect Riff speaks of the excitement he felt as a teenager in ’50s Britain, when it was America’s rock, jazz, blues, country, Cajun and Dixieland music that “liberated” him and “gave me an identity”.

Asked whether the American influence had been the same for Keith Richards, Davies replied: “I can’t speak for Keith Richards . . . somebody should.”

Fans in the audience asked whether there would be a reunion. “Ah, we were always tempestuous,” he said, recalling the time that drummer Mick Avory “tried to kill my brother on stage in Cardiff”. The altercation ended with Dave unconscious and hospital treatment for a wound requiring 16 stitches. Ray Davies said a reunion would require new music, adding: “In any case, my brother still has an issue with the drummer. If they resolve their issues, I might be there.”

A musical about The Kinks, Sunny Afternoon, opened this month to rave reviews. The show details The Kinks invasion of America as well as their ban at the height of their career, told with music and lyrics by Ray Davies.


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