Creative people were a magnet to me. I’d realised this the first time I’d encountered Stuart and then John at Art College. When I was trying to arrange for her to be interviewed by Philip Norman, John’s Aunt Mimi readily agreed to it, telling me, “I’ll always remember you because you were the first person ever to call John a genius.” Ray Davies was another of those rare creative people I encountered on my journey across this life.
For the brief time I was press officer to the Kinks I understood why other PRs had found difficulty in coping with his often erratic actions. He was complex; he was an extremely singular person, living within his own mind and it took understanding to see beyond certain aspects of his behaviour.
I remember once when I was asked to arrange a press reception for them in a first floor office in Maddox Street. The press were in attendance, the drinks were ready to quaff, when the Kinks managers suddenly told me they were off to a nearby Hotel. This didn’t just puzzle me, it worried me. Why would his managers decided to leave a press reception for their artist just when their arrival was imminent?
I went around chatting with members of the press and other guests and then the Kinks arrived. Within minutes there was an altercation. Ray had a glass of beer in his hand and he suddenly swiped his arm to send the contents of the glass speeding at Dave Most, Mickie Most’s brother. Unfortunately, Mike, a fairly new member of the staff of Melody Maker was in the way and the beer spread across his brand new leather jacket.
Dave was off through the door with Ray in pursuit, while I was briefly delayed by an irate Mike asking who would compensate him for the mess on his jacket. I rushed to the door which led to a spiral staircase and rushed down, avoiding one of Ray’s shoes which was lodged on a stair. In the street I saw Ray pursuing a taxi which was obviously hosting the fleeing Dave.
Ray disappeared into New Bond Street, still in pursuit of the taxi. I entered the building and walked up the stairs to be greeted by Judith Simons of the Daily Express sitting on the stairs. I expected her to demand an explanation for the bizarre scene she had just witnessed. I would obviously be lost for words as I had no idea that Ray had such a fierce objection to Dave, otherwise I would never have invited him.
Fortunately, I didn’t have to say a thing. Judith just said, “I understand. Ray’s a genius and these things happen,” a clear example of insight.
Generally, various groups had a main star who was the person who basically received all the publicity. My policy was to organise interviews for various members of the bands. For instance, I fixed up interviews for Alvin Lee of Ten Years After. But I also arranged interviews for Rick, Leo and Chick. I don’t think Alvin or manager Chris Wright liked this. Personally, Virginia and I got on extremely well with Rick and his girlfriend. Chris Wright, keen to make me realise that it was Alvin who was the star, arranged for us to go to Alvin’s house for the evening. It didn’t go too well, particularly since we refused to smoke pot with Alvin and his girlfriend.
I took the same tack with the Kinks. Although Ray was arguably the most interesting and had the largest profile, I felt that the other members also had something to say, particularly Dave. It was obviously that there was some sort of tension between the brothers. Perhaps it was similar to the plight of George Harrison when he had difficulty living under the shadow of Lennon & McCartney, particularly on the use of his own songs in the early days.
Dave was also his own person and one who had opinions and interesting observations to impart. He liked to do his interviews in Soho pubs, which is where I chatted with him over a few pints for this piece which I wrote for Record Mirror. I’m delighted that my former RM colleague Norman Joplin has kindly begun to trace and send me various articles I wrote for the publication. This article is one of the interviews I conducted with Dave, published on December 9 1967:
A WORLD OF PIGS AND PUBS.
Dave Davies is tremendously interested in the Supernatural, loves talking to people, is a football enthusiast, an impatient creative artist, a hoarder of dreams, an imbiber and a songwriter in search of himself.
‘Susannah’s Still Alive’, his second solo single, is the first ‘A’ side he has written himself. If it’s a hit, which is likely, he’ll have his first solo album released in the New Year. Originally, he’d thought in terms of an album containing several of his own compositions, which would be produced by his brother Ray. However, he says that there wouldn’t be time to produce such an album but “I’d like to do a similar thing to what Long John Baldry has done in his LP – the songs and things that have influenced him in his career. I’d like to go into the studio to record the influences I’ve had in the last five or six years. If I did an album featuring my own material it would take a bit longer.”
In his writing Dave is not influenced by Ray. “Ray can sit down and write a number, I can’t. If I sit down with my guitar and intend to write something, I can never usually finish it. I’ve got lots of unfinished songs around. But if I just mess about I come out with something. Ray writes about things that happen, I write about how I feel about people by going out and getting drunk and what have you. It takes me away from show business and brings me back to reality. I don’t write anything deep or psychological, I try to write something that is simple.”
The brothers also differ in their attention to detail. When out together, Ran can recall the following day exactly what clothes people have worn in the evening, what colours their clothes were, everyone’s name and a hundred and one other items – Dave can’t, he can only recollect the basic events of the evening.
Dave loves pubs. He likes his locals and he also likes travelling to different pubs and meeting new people.
Although he has been writing for some time, Dave has at last discovered what he would like to say in his writing – “I am a person – and I’ve only just begun to realise it – my songs now are much more along the lines of what I want to do than ‘Death of a Clown.’
The frequency of Kinks bookings varies: one week they may have two gigs, the following week none at all, although they do appear regularly on the Continent. For leisure, Dave likes to sleep in, visit a pub, have friends along to his flat to chat for hours “about nothing,” play football and think about music.
“I tried to write a book. I finished one chapter and was so knocked out with it that I couldn’t go on any more…I’m too impatient. It was about a dream I had, really, and I called it ‘Where Pigs Fly.’ It was about pigs and it was terribly religious. The pigs were angels from Heaven – and the Earth had been condemned by God and was frozen. The only living things were four kids and an old man and a dog. Then one day God had second thoughts and the ice breaks and the pigs come flying over the sea.
“The dream was in colour and I tried to make a painting of it. I drew a big hill with four kids with bags on their backs and pink pigs flying over them. But I was too impatient and didn’t finish it.”
Dreams wield an important influence over Dave’s life because he is more aware of them than most people. He knows, for instance, that his dreams are in colour, that he has numerous dreams during a single sleeping period – and on awakening he can remember snatches of several of them.
His awareness of dreams first took place when “I was about thirteen or fourteen. I was at school and I met this chick. The next night I had a dream about her.
“Now dreams mean a lot to me, they are almost a way of life. At nights I’ve woken up about 5 o clock worrying about what happens in dreams. I’m also interested in the Supernatural bit after one strange thing happened to me. I’d been worrying about something and I felt very tired. So I went home and went to bed. Suddenly I found myself near the edge of the bed and I could see myself fast asleep.”