Ray Davies is the lead singer, chief songwriter, and rhythm guitarist in the Kinks, one of the most long-lived of the British Invasion rock groups of the 1960s. In effect, the Kinks have always been merely a backup group for Ray Davies, who writes and sings nearly all their songs with only the occasional contribution from his brother, Dave, who plays lead guitar in the group. At various times, Ray Davies made noises about dissolving the group and going solo, but for years the closest he came to it was taking solo credit for the soundtrack to his 1985 film, Return to Waterloo (which he wrote and directed).
During the ’90s, the Kinks gradually became inactive and Ray Davies pursued other projects, starting with his semi-fictional 1995 memoir, X-Ray. He supported the book with a series of concerts subtitled “Storyteller,” where he played classic Kinks songs, read from the book, told stories, and showcased new songs. The Storyteller concerts sowed the seeds of a number of projects, including the music cable network VH1’s recurring series, Storyteller. Ray Davies himself released a book of the same name, filled with short stories, and a similarly titled album that captured one of his solo acoustic concerts. That record was his first solo effort since Return to Waterloo, and was released in the spring of 1998. In late 2005 he released the benefit EP Thanksgiving Day. All net proceeds raised by the EP went to New Orleans music education programs. A year later the full-length Other People’s Lives appeared, followed by Working Man’s Cafe in 2008.