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The Day Ray Davies Temporarily Quit the Kinks

Ray Davies
Paul Kane, Getty Images

The early ’70s took their toll on quite a number of rock’s biggest acts. The combination of artistic ambition, family life, the demands of stardom, increasing drug use and aging in a medium originally designed to celebrate youth resulted in many artists rethinking their career choice. For Ray Davies, all of these issues came to a head in July 1973, when he announced onstage that he was quitting the Kinks.

According to Retro Rebirth, Davies spent much of 1973 working on Preservation, a sprawling rock opera that expanded the themes of the Kinks’ brilliant 1968 album, The Village Green Preservation Society. By June, Davies’ wife had had enough and, on his 27th birthday, took their children and left him.

The split devastated the singer, and even though his life was falling apart, he still had a high-profile gig at London’s White City Stadium to perform. Unfortunately, Davies took a lot of pills before the show, which is never a good idea. As Melody Maker‘s impressionistic account of the event said, “Ray looked frightening in dark glasses for the sun wasn’t shining … He was a wreck that evening … Davies swore onstage. He stood at the White City and swore that he was ‘f—ing sick of the whole thing … Sick up to here with it … and those that heard shook their heads.” As the concert ended, Davies approached the band’s guitarist (and his brother) Dave Davies, kissed him on the cheek and then told the crowd he was quitting.

Shortly after the announcement, Davies collapsed from an overdose and was rushed to the hospital. During the recuperation, Davies decided to return to the business and finish the Preservation project. Even though the album wasn’t well-received, the band’s artistic and commercial renaissance was only a few years away.

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