Happy birthday today to Ray Davies, born on this day in 1944.
He is the quintessential English songwriter. He is truly one of a kind. His songs chronicled the working class, a celebrating the joys and melancholy of day-to-day living. Davies is a magnificent observer of British life.
There aren’t many songwriters who can take credit for helping to change the course of rock music history, but Ray Davies is certainly one of them. Forty-one years ago he wrote the five-note riff to “You Really Got Me”, launching the glorious career of The Kinks and, some say, contemporary hard rock and even heavy metal.
As the leader of the Kinks, he’s covered the spectrum of the rock idiom like few others, writing such rock classics as, “Sunny Afternoon”, “Waterloo Sunset”, “Lola”, “Tired of Waiting For You,” “A Well Respected Man”, “Dedicated Follower of Fashion” and “Come Dancing”.
Although they weren’t as innovative as the Beatles or as popular as the Rolling Stones or the Who, the Kinks were one of the most influential bands of the British Invasion. Like most bands of their era, the Kinks began as an R&B/blues outfit. Within four years, the band had become the most staunchly English of all their contemporaries, drawing heavily from British music hall and traditional pop.
Ray and his current band opened the 18th Meltdown Festival in London last week which he is currating for the London Southbank Centre. Ray has been working on the project since late last year and closed the festival on June 19th performing the entire Village Green Preservation Society album with the London Philharmonic Orchestra and the Crouch End Festival Chorus.
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