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Credit: Jean-Luc


The song that reminds Ray Davies of the early days of The Kinks


Ray Davies was surrounded by music during his childhood, predominantly thanks to being the second youngest of eight siblings, which meant there was always a record of some sort spinning in the background. While he learned the guitar at an early age, it wasn’t until art college that The Kinks came together, and there’s one record that reminds Davies of that special time.

The singer enrolled at Hornsey Art School in 1962, and it introduced him to a whole new world. He soon started to mix with like-minded individuals and absorbed himself within this exciting world that was beginning to emerge across London.

This period helped Davies discover himself, and it was crucial in enabling his band’s experimental phases before eventually morphing into The Kinks. Initially, they were known as the Ray Davies Quartet before becoming The Ramrods and The Ravens.

Another bonus of attending the college was the concerts held in its vicinity, which gave him close-up access to the bands he admired and stumbling upon new groups. Cyril Davies and His Rhythm and Blues All-Stars were one of the act’s that visited north London, and their show left a permanent mark on the awe-struck student.

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Following the performance, Davies rushed out to buy their track, ‘Country Line Special’, and still, whenever he plays it today, it transports him back to those wistful college days.

For Davies, that one record epitomises that incredible time in his life, and he told The Guardian that it was crucial to him during the period when The Kinks slowly started to come together. “I did buy that one, and it’s one of the greatest records of its type ever made,” Davies recounted. “It’s a seminal English R’n’B track played brilliantly. I saw the band when I was at Hornsey Art School in 1962, and my girlfriend booked all the bands that played; I thought she’d be good to latch onto because she would get me free tickets.”

He added: “She booked the Rolling Stones for £50, and [English R’n’B legend] Alexis Korner, so art school gave me access to music I wouldn’t have otherwise heard. The Kinks came through after that.”

Tragically, Cyril Davies wouldn’t live to see his namesake achieve success with The Kinks as he passed away aged just 31 in 1964 after he collapsed during a work commitment in Twickenham. Many speculated that he was secretly battling leukaemia, although his official cause of death is listed as endocarditis.

However, his All-Stars would briefly continue after his passing thanks to Jimmy Page reviving the group and recruiting Jeff Beck before they both went on to much grander things.

Having the opportunity to see these illustrious figures in the London scene was inspiring to Davies. He thrust himself into it with every fibre of his being, and it didn’t take The Kinks long to become a crucial part of the city’s fabric.