50 Years Ago: Ray Davies Temporarily Quits the Kinks
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 on July 15, 1973, when he announced onstage that he was quitting the Kinks.
Davies spent much of 1973 working on Preservation, according to Retro Rebirth. It was 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 took their children and left him on his 27th birthday.
The split devastated Davies, 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 fucking 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, Ray Davies collapsed from an overdose and was rushed to the hospital. During the recuperation, he decided to return to the business and finish the Preservation project. Even though the album wasn't well-received, his band's artistic and commercial renaissance was only a few years away.