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24 August 2022

Dave Davies Q&A: “I like guitars but I haven’t got any left”

The Kinks’ guitarist on classic Sixties mystery shows and “cool” 17th-century fashion.

By New Statesman

Dave Davies was born in London in 1947. Best known as the lead guitarist of the English band the Kinks, he pioneered the use of distortion in rock music.

What’s your earliest memory?

When I was three or four, I would stand at the front door waiting for my mum to come home from work. My sisters would console me. I always felt protected as a kid.

Who are your heroes?

My childhood hero would be the Lone Ranger – I used to love watching him on the telly. My first football hero was Derek Tapscott, who played inside right for Arsenal. One of the biggest thrills when I was a boy featured him: I was in the front garden and I saw him walk by the house. My adult hero is Spock, from Star Trek. He’s only a fictional character but I like his humane qualities. He doesn’t talk about it, but you know he really cares.

[See also: The curious life of Basil Bunting]

What book last changed your thinking?

A book by Dion Fortune called Psychic Self-Defense. She wrote about metaphysics and also wrote novels. She lived in a little house at the bottom of Glastonbury Tor. This book is a manual on how to utilise the mind to combat negative thoughts and forces. If you think about it, our mind is open to bombardment from all kinds of stuff 24 hours a day. We have to sift through things that we are not even consciously aware of half the time.

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Which political figure do you look up to?

I don’t really like politics. I think it’s more important to pursue spiritual practices. But I liked Michael Foot in the UK and the US president John F Kennedy.

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What would be your Mastermind specialist subject?

Maybe astrology or the tarot. I like guitars but I haven’t got any left.

In which time and place, other than your own, would you like to live?

The future, or the era of Charles II, in the 17th century, to get good clothes. I thought he looked cool.

What TV show could you not live without?

Any Star Trek, particularly the original series. I used to like Doc Martin but the character has become too miserable. I also enjoyed Foyle’s War with Michael Kitchen.

Who would paint your portrait?

Marc Chagall, because his sense of humour appeals to me. Through humour you can capture different things about a person rather than just the obvious.

[See also: John McEnroe: “You don’t win every time, no matter how good you are”]

What’s your theme tune?

The theme from the Edgar Wallace Mysteries show from the 1960s. I used to watch it in the movie theatre, where they would show it as a support film.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

I’m still waiting for it. Maybe it would be “Think before you speak”. I was always in trouble for opening my big mouth.

What’s currently bugging you?

Pointless wars created by pointless people. When will they realise that we are in the 21st century? We shouldn’t have wars any more.

When were you happiest?

In the early days of the Kinks. I was always a happy kid. I have wonderful memories of growing up where I lived in north London. I prefer to be happy than sad.

In another life, what job might you have chosen?

Peacemaker and painter. I would like to pursue my art more.

Are we all doomed?

Absolutely not. I have faith in the human spirit that ultimately all good will prevail. I think it’s important to be optimistic. It’s too easy to be the opposite.

“Living on a Thin Line: The Autobiography” by Dave Davies is published by Headline

[See also: Hannah Fry’s Q&A: “Pull handles on push doors make me feel like an idiot”]

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This article appears in the 24 Aug 2022 issue of the New Statesman, The Inflation Wars