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In a Brotherly Endeavor, Kinks Remain


It's embedded in rock 'n' roll lore that Ray Davies, Kinks singer, doesn't get along with Dave Davies, Kinks guitarist. And now, it turns out, Ray Davies, writer of a Kinks memoir, doesn't care to read Dave Davies, writer of another Kinks memoir.

Dave's autobiography, "Kink: The Outrageous Story of My Wild Years as the Founder and Lead Guitarist of the Kinks," was published last year. Ray, whose autobiography "X-Ray" came out in 1994, says he hasn't read his brother's book and doesn't intend to, but he assumes that Dave would not be especially kind in portraying him. Ray assumes right.

Dave pulls no punches in the following paragraph (which this writer didn't have the heart to read to Ray during a recent interview, not to mention the practical consideration that reading it might have brought the interview to a hasty end):

It's such a weird paradox that Ray, who wrote that lovely song [referring to "Where Have All the Good Times Gone"], would later become so abusive to me, so cruel and creatively draining. . . . Many times I've been exasperated by his contradictory nature, his unyielding and unreasonable behaviour. On the one hand he's sensitive enough to understand even the slightest emotion, to feel for the plight and frustration of the underdog, able to offer great insight and compassion. Yet at the same time he displays an almost resentful and sometimes condescending loathing for his past, his family. He is at times venomous, spiteful and completely self-involved. A puzzling dichotomy.

Asked about his hands-off/eyes-averted policy toward his brother's book, Ray said, "My view of Dave is he's entitled to say whatever he wants. I think everybody is entitled to see the world the way they want. If Dave wasn't critical with me, I'd think there's something wrong with him. That's the nature of the beast we're dealing with. Bless him, I don't care.

"It's not that I don't want to read it particularly," Ray added. "I'm sure it's great and got good bits. . . . [But] I just leave things outside [their musical work together] to him. It's healthier that way. Yes, friction and angst is something he prides himself on. I'm just one of those boring people who like to be happy once in a while--have a good meal, go to bed and get up and try to do something to make people happy."

He did respond to one brotherly claim related to him from Dave's book:

I introduced a chord progression which a week or so later became the basis of "Lola" [one of the Kinks' biggest hits]. . . . Ray never gave me any credit for partly inspiring the piece. It may have been Ray's lyrics, his story, but they were my musical ideas that formed the foundation of this song.

Ray greeted his brother's claim of co-authorship with a dry laugh. "Yeah, it's frightening. Particularly with 'Lola.' He wasn't even in England when I wrote it. The guitar riffs, the sound is Dave's, I don't dispute that--but every line in that is something I've asked him to play.

"All this thing about the Davies wars is really boring," Ray added, a note of irritation entering his otherwise polite voice. But, he conceded with resignation, interest in one of rock's most famous sibling rivalries probably won't fade.

"We've both got a career, people will inevitably [ask about it]. I think it will go on."

At the end of "Kink," Dave reaches for a sense of acceptance about their unhappy relationship:

But in spite of it all, I love my brother. Maybe that's all that's necessary. That it was the love between us that helped to make it all happen--us against the world.

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