Ray Davies: Surviving The Kinks, And A Bullet

Compelling full career interview with The Kinks’ complex genius – plus free tribute CD – in latest MOJO magazine. Includes shocking details of 2005 shooting.

Ray Davies

THE KINKS’ RAY DAVIES has spoken candidly about the shooting that incapacitated him in New Orleans in 2005, only one of many intense life and career experiences discussed in a revealing MOJO interview in the issue out in the UK on Tuesday, January 24.

MOJO 280, featuring Ray Davies
MOJO 280, featuring Ray Davies.

Davies was living in New Orleans when he and his companion were robbed in the street. After the assailant escaped with a bag containing cash and credit cards, Davies gave chase. The mugger let loose a shot, and Davies dived to his left. Heading originally for his chest, the bullet hit him in the leg.

As he went into shock, Davies was rushed to New Orleans’ Charity Hospital where staff were concerned about his abnormally low heart rate. There, immobilised, he was forced to question his life fully in what he describes as “a cleansing experience.”

But as Davies explains to MOJO Editor–In-Chief Phil Alexander, he’d had a strange presentiment of the attack and has even wondered whether someone took a “hit” out on him.

“Somebody in a bar a few days before had said to me, I’ll kill you,” Davies recalls. “So when something like that happens, you dwell on it.”

Asked if he now regrets chasing his attacker, Davies replies: “It was fight or flight. Until you’re in that position yourself, it’s impossible to say what you’d do. The person with me said, Just give him everything. But I wanted to kill him. I wanted to smack his face.”

Village Green…, I think is an album of very well recorded demos.”

Ray Davies

In a wide-ranging, career-spanning interview Davies revisits the very beginnings of his creative life, exploring how a fascination with America generally became an obsession with rock’n’roll, but how The Kinks’ first visits to the States were far from the glamorous processionals enjoyed by the Beatles.

For instance, only the Kinks could turn a prized promotional opportunity on NBC TV show Hullabaloo into a negative.

“That’s where it all started to go wrong,” says Davies. “They said, ‘Here we have Freddie And The Dreamers!’ and they cut away to them all looking compliant. Then they cut away to some other act looking really macho. Then they went ‘And here’s The Kinks!’ and there’s me and [Kinks drummer] Mick Avory dancing cheek-to-cheek. So we got off to a bad start there.”

The Kinks were blacklisted by US musicians unions, entangled in legal ructions with their managers and agents, belaboured by crises of confidence. Even the group’s genius recordings – including their classic 1967 album Something Else (covered from top to toe exclusively for MOJO magazine’s free covermount CD) and richly textured 1968 concept opus, The Kinks Are The Village Green Preservation Society – are viewed by their creator slightly askance.

Ray Davies in 2016, by Tom Oldham
Ray Davies, alive and well in 2016, photographed for MOJO by Tom Oldham.

Village Green…, I think is an album of very well recorded demos,” says Davies. “That album is the precursor to the entire indie movement.”

Davies goes on to discuss his debt to cowboy movies, the Kinks’ rapprochement with America, his ’70s breakdown and to explore his new album (or, more accurately, pair of albums) Americana in the most fascinating encounter with the Kinks man yet.

Also in the new issue: Neil Young, Thin Lizzy, Madness, The KLF, Blondie, Magnetic Fields, Anohni, Ian Hunter and Elbow.

MOJO 280, STARRING RAY DAVIES, IS AVAILABLE IN UK STORES FROM TUESDAY, JANUARY 24.

Click for full magazine contents

Or have a copy sent straight to your door

PHOTO: Ray Davies at Top Of The Pops in 1964 courtesy of Alamy