Rasa Didzpetris

I went to see Sunny Afternoon at the weekend, which reminded me of this sidebar I wrote for Shindig! Magazine

rasa

Schoolgirl meets popstar, 1964.
Who is Rasa Didzpetris, did you say? Here’s the story…
Eighteen-year-old Lithuanian-born pop fan and convent school girl Rasa met The Kinks after a gig in Sheffield on May 19th, 1964, and got along so well with Ray that they corresponded over the summer and eventually met up in London in mid-August. Ray has described a movie-style reunion at Tottenham Court Road tube station, after which romance blossomed, followed somewhat swiftly by the young couple’s wedding in the bride’s home town of Bradford on December 12, ’64.
However, by this time Rasa had already seen her debut as backing singer for The Kinks, first appearing (probably) on ‘Stop You Sobbing’, recorded back in August during her first visit to Ray. Precise details of the whens, hows and whys are unclear but Rasa says that she sang with The Kinks from ’65-’72. Her ambition had been to become an actress but instead, starting to sing just “happened”, she says. “I found my voice and was truly happy to contribute.” Rasa’s voice can be heard on a number of Kinks and Dave Davies songs, most notably on ‘Waterloo Sunset’, ‘Death Of A Clown’, ‘Sunny Afternoon’ and ‘Days’, but really – if you can hear an ethereal high voice in the mix on any song during this period, that’s Rasa.
Singing and recording quickly became an important part of her life: “Working in Pye Studios in Marble Arch in London with producer Shel Talmy was exciting. My life changed; from the girl who was from a convent school in Bradford, to a girl singing backing vocals with my husband and other members of the group. After the various takes of the song(s), to hear the final vinyl was amazing and I remember my head ‘buzzing’ with joy, tiredness and achievement.”
Tensions within the band became apparent, though, as Ray could be secretive about his songs even during recording. Rasa, however, would sometimes take a very active role during the writing of the songs, many of which were written in the family home, even on occasion adding to the lyrics. She suggested the words “In the summertime” to ‘Sunny Afternoon’, it is claimed. She now says, “I would make suggestions for a backing melody, sing along while Ray was playing the song(s) on the piano; at times I would add a lyric line or word(s). It was rewarding for me and was a major part of our life.” This was bound to result in some resentments, as some of the other members of the band were at times not even aware of what the vocal line they were recording parts for would be. Dave, who asked Rasa to sing on ‘Death Of A Clown’, was very complementary about her singing, though, and has said – about her performance on ‘Waterloo Sunset’ – “Having Rasa there, that female vibe, softens the attitude of the song. It makes it warmer.”
Rasa and Ray divorced in ’73 and Rasa has since occasionally appeared live with The Kast Off Kinks. Her memories of her time as backing singer with The Kinks remain, she says, “bittersweet.”
© Gitte Morten 2015
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