Ray of sunshine...
The Kinks exploded onto the 60s music scene with a raw and energetic sound that rocked a nation.
But where did they come from and what happened to the four lads from London’s Muswell Hill?
To answer these questions and more, award-winning musical ‘Sunny Afternoon’ arrives in Scotland next month.
Set against the back-drop of a country caught mid-swing between the straight-laced 50s and the rebellious 60s, the show follows the Kinks from their first number one ‘You Really Got Me’ through until the end of the 60s.
On the way there are contract issues, band fall outs and frontman Ray Davies’ breakdown. Linking all these events together are the band’s smash hit songs.
It’s not quite the Kinks reunion that we are all hoping for, but it’s a start...
“If people want to treat the musical as a reunion of sorts then they are welcome to do so,” Ray Davies smiled. “It’s the story of how the most unlikely bunch of lads ever to become successful did, and how they did it. The story has been told before but not quite like this. I want people to grab the storyline rather than just sit and wait for the next song to be performed so that they can sing along. There is a gradual reveal of the characters, much like a movie or play.
He continued: “My first draft was written about ten years ago, and I wanted to write something built around our song ‘Sunny Afternoon’.
“I thought it would be interesting to write a show based on that particular song which is a journey. It’s someone in their stately home saying “Help me! Someone who’s trapped and alone and it is something that everyone can related to at some point in their lives.”
The show stays close to the true story of the band, something that was really important to Ray.
“The events depicted in the show actually happened,” he said. “They’re not embellished or sugar coated – that was our life in all its glory – good and bad.
“The scene where I’m in the studio trying to get the sound of a song exactly right happened,” Ray explained. “At the time I had either a kind of epiphany or breakdown – not a nervous breakdown; just a work burnout. Maybe I was just being erratic, who knows. I realised that for the first time in my life that other people depended on me for a living and that was a very terrifying position to find myself in.
“‘Sunny Afternoon’ was written in early 1966 and we had just had a big hit with ‘Dedicated Follower of Fashion’ and writing the track was an epiphany for me, it really saved my life, it’s a very important song.
“Also as an art student, I didn’t have the first clue how to write songs. I came up with ‘You Really Got Me’ and it was about the fifth song that I ever wrote and it was a number one which of course was just fantastic. But then everybody started knocking on the door saying, ‘What’s next?’ and ‘What have you got?’. And the scene with the publisher was not as extravagantly performed as it is in the show, but it really happened.
Fans and newcomers to the music of the Kinks alike will enjoy the show, Ray promised.
“It’s not just for people who know the material and are fans of the band,” he said. “It’s for new people, too. Teenagers who are coming just wanting to see the show and finding out about the music. Come in and take a seat.”
You can catch ‘Sunny Afternoon’ at Edinburgh Playhouse (Sept 13-17), Glasgow King’s Theatre (Oct 11-15) and Aberdeen His Majesty’s Theatre (Nov 8-12).
For tickets, visit www.sunnyafternoonthemusical.com