ROCK HISTORY – RAY DAVIES: A COMPLICATED LIFE BY JOHNNY ROGAN

The Kinks is a band that deserve more recognition than they have received. Although never quite valued in the same manner as many of their 60s peers, in many ways, The Kinks contributed as much to the development of rock music as The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Who & Pink Floyd.

And the reasons for this injustice can be found in this detailed biography of the leader of the band, Ray Davies. At 784 pages long, this tome leaves no stone unturned in examining the life and times of Davies, and by necessity the history of The Kinks.

The conclusion that one arrives at is that inasmuch as Davies is a songwriting genius, his personality was at worst self-destructive and the key obstacle in elevating The Kinks to their deserved place amongst the pantheon of rock gods.

There is much evidence here that Davies was not able to deal effectively with his psychological flaws and perhaps his songwriting gifts papered over these cracks for decades and prevented him from getting the help he needed to find peace and contentment.

However, it might be argued that if Davies had been a well adjusted individual, the songs would not have such emotional resonance. Perhaps. Nobody knows for sure. But it’s not an easy task to read about how Davies always seemed to be riding a emotional roller-coaster that constantly put professional obligations under threat.

Then, of course, there are his dysfunctional relationships – chief of which is with his brother Dave. Rather than being mere sibling rivalry, the relationship has been deeply toxic and the main reason why The Kinks have not existed as a recording and performing entity since the mid-90s.

Johnny Rogan does a great job in laying it bare for all to see. It would be easy to judge Ray Davies and to dismiss his negative traits but we would defend him with this simple statement – Ray Davies is as fucked up as the rest of us.

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… still there’s more …