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June 3, 2011 9:48 pm
Ray Davies, 66, was lead singer and songwriter for The Kinks and has been a successful solo artist since they disbanded in 1996. He was appointed CBE in 2004 for services to music.
What was your earliest ambition?
I loved sport. My overriding desire was to play anything for England.
Public school or state school? University or straight into work?
A Church of England primary in north London called St James, then William Grimshaw secondary modern. I’m not a great painter but I’m pretty good. I went on to art college, did two years, but then I formed the band and opted out.
Who was your mentor?
Mr Bond, the art teacher who recognised I had a certain talent. Alexis Korner, the godfather of R ‘n’ B, he got me my first gig.
How physically fit are you?
Performing and recording are demanding. I’m not Arnold Schwarzenegger but I’m not bad.
Ambition or talent: which matters more to success?
Ambition is important but I think talent counts the most, with the desire to achieve. The secret is to know your own boundaries, but not tell other people what they are.
Have you ever taken an IQ test?
Not knowingly, but I think I’m probably about average and happy to be average.
How politically committed are you?
I’ve always been politically aware, but I haven’t found a party I could give my allegiance to, though I veer to the left. Politics is becoming a managerial role rather than Churchillian. I’m more passionate about community spirit.
Do you consider your carbon footprint?
It’s difficult to take seriously while the world is focused on bombing.
Do you have more than one home?
It’s difficult enough to have one, let alone two.
What would you like to own that you don’t currently possess?
I don’t think we ever truly possess anything. I would like to continue to own my freedom and the ability to do what I do.
What’s your biggest extravagance?
A week of doing absolutely nothing would work for me.
In what place are you happiest?
In family gatherings.
What ambitions do you still have?
First of all, to live up to my own hype. And when I lived in New Orleans there was a great local radio station that felt like part of the community. I’d like to explore that.
What drives you on?
My will to be creative and reach people.
What is the greatest achievement of your life so far?
When The Kinks were banned from the US for four years, we had to start again when we went back in the 1970s. When we finally got on stage in Madison Square Garden it was a total career resurgence, through sheer hard work.
What has been your greatest disappointment?
There are so many. On a personal level, becoming so busy that I’m estranged from family and friends.
If your 20-year-old self could see you now, what would he think?
“Older people can be quite interesting after all. What can I learn from you?” and “You’re fit enough to be in our soccer team.”
If you lost everything tomorrow, what would you do?
Write, see if anyone was interested, start from scratch.
Do you believe in assisted suicide?
No. What concerns me is people having a last-minute change of heart. I believe that where there’s life there’s hope, though that may be romantic.
Do you believe in an afterlife?
At that moment we depart, there has to be somewhere else to go.
If you had to rate your satisfaction with your life so far, out of 10, what would you score?
100 per cent.
Ray Davies curates the Meltdown festival at the Southbank Centre, London, June 10-19
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