Lola – The Kinks – 1970

May 31, 2012

Probably the world’s most famous transvestite, Lola – The Kinks’ 1970 hit.

two weeks in a row

Having profiled Lou Reed’s, Walk on the Wild Side last week it seems a natural progression to Lola as this week’s offering.

lola – almost a real person

There is a bit of conjecture as to who should get credit for writing Lola. History records it as being Ray Davies but his brother, Dave, claims that he wrote the music. After playing it for Ray, Ray wrote the lyric and then claimed it all as his own – well, that’s what Dave says!

Ray also says that the song was inspired by events at a Kinks party.  Band manager, Robert Wace, had spent the night dancing with a transvestite.

In his apartment, Robert had been dancing with this black woman, and he said, ‘I’m really onto a thing here.’ And it was okay until we left at six in the morning and then I said, ‘Have you seen the stubble?’ He said ‘Yeah,’ but he was too drunk to care, I think.

the kinks

From London, England, The Kinks were formed by brothers Ray and Dave Davies in 1964. The band then remained together for 32 years with Ray and Dave members throughout all that time.

Another notable band member was Nicky Hopkins, a keyboardist who went onto gain renown as a session musician playing with acts like: The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, Joe Cocker, The Who, Jefferson Airplane (at Woodstock), Steve Miller Band, and the Jeff Beck Group.

giiiiirrrrrrlllll, you really got me

While Lola may be, arguably, their best known song, You Really Got Me was The Kinks’ first hit – #1 in the UK and in the top ten in the US. It was the first of five top ten US hits and seventeen top 20 singles and five top ten albums in the UK. In 1990, The Kinks have been inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

lola fax

  • Lola was released on June 12th 1970, a single from the album Lola Versus Powerman and the Moneygoround, Part One.
  • Lola tells the story of a romantic encounter between a young man and a transvestite who he meets in a club in Soho, London.
  • Lola peaked at #2 on the UK single charts and #9 on the US charts.
  • The original version of Lola had the word “Coca-Cola” as part of the lyric. BBC radio had a policy against product placement at that time and so refused to play the song. Ray flew from New York to London to record one word, changing the lyric to “cherry cola.”
  • Lola was ranked 422nd on Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.
  • Lola was re-released in 1980 as a live version. While it only made #81 in the US, it hit #1 in the Netherlands and #2 in Belgium.
  • Cover versions of Lola have been produced by; Andy Taylor (ex-Duran Duran), Madness, Robbie Williams (to celebrate the 40th Birthday of BBC Radio 1), and Travis.
  • Two other variations of Lola have been recorded: In 1985 “Weird Al” Yankovic recorded a Star Wars themed parody of Lola which he called Yoda and, 2005, Dana Baitz, a transsexual musician recorded a cover version telling the story from Lola’s perspective.
  • Lola lyrics.

lola – the kinks – 1970 – video

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Walk on the Wild Side – Lou Reed – 1972

May 24, 2012

Lou Reed – Walk on the Wild Side – a musical highlight of 1972, there can be no doubt.

from the very first bass slide…

Don’t you love songs that are immediately recognisable? Of course there are dozens, maybe thousands of them. I think immediately of The Stones’, Brown Sugar; or The Shocking Blue’s, Venus; or even Abba’s Waterloo.

But, one of the classiest must surely be the C – F bass slide of Lou Reed’s, Walk on the Wild Side.

so, i’m back to the velvet underground

Lewis “Lou” Reed turned 70 earlier this year (2012). His musical life is both well documented and well-known. He began as the guitarist/vocalist for US band, The Velvet Underground; a band with limited commercial success but a huge cult following and producers of some fine music.

In 1971 Lou went solo.  He continued to write as he had for The Velvet Underground exploring themes such as sexuality and the drug culture. Walk on the Wild Side is his only real hit and yet he is, deservedly, held in high regard as a musician and songwriter.

Walk on the Wild Side tells the stories of a series of people who journey to New York. Many of the names in the song refer to real people who were regulars at Andy Warhol’s New York studio, The Factory. Mentioned in the song are Holly Woodlawn, Candy Darling, Joe Dallesandro, Jackie Curtis and Joe Campbell (who is referred to by his nickname Sugar Plum Fairy).

reed trivia

Now, here’s something I didn’t know – – Lou is married to Laurie Anderson (two rather strange but talented people together!!).

holly’s story…(she came from Miami, FLA)…

In an interview with The Guardian published December 13, 2008, Holly Woodlawn said:

My father got a job at a hotel, so we moved from New York to Miami Beach. I was going to school, getting stones thrown at me and being beaten up by homophobic rednecks. I felt I deserved better, and I hated football and baseball. So, aged 15, I decided to get the hell out of there and ran away from home. I had $27, so hitchhiked across the USA. I did pluck my eyebrows in Georgia. It hurt! My friend Georgette was plucking them and I was screaming, but all of a sudden I had these gorgeous eyebrows and she put mascara on my eyes. We ran into some marines in Lafayette in South Carolina. They tried to attack me. I was 15 and not used to this stuff. I was sitting in a car with this marine, terrified that he was going to rape me and kill me. I said, ‘I’ve never done this before.’ He said, ‘You don’t wanna have sex with me?’ I said it wasn’t that I didn’t find him attractive, I just didn’t want to do it. But he was wonderful. He protected me. While Georgette was in a motel screaming and yelling with 18 marines but having a good time, he said, ‘When you’re with me, nothing will happen to you.’ And they drove us all the way to New Jersey.

In New York I was living on the street. Then I met Jackie Curtis and Candy Darling, and they’d watch Marlene Dietrich and Greta Garbo movies at 1am. There was this club called Max’s Kansas City. Jackie and Candy had just done this movie called Flesh, and they said, ‘You have to meet Andy [Warhol]. He’s gonna make you a superstar.’

I didn’t want to be a superstar. My wig looked like yak hair. One day Jackie put on a show and I was in the chorus. I saw this bag of glitter and a jar of Vaseline, and smeared myself with it and got this boyfriend to throw the glitter on me. [Director] Paul Morrissey said, ‘I don’t know who she is but she’s a star.’ Next thing Paul’s calling me up to star in a movie called Trash, and the rest is history.

One day a friend called me and said, ‘Turn on the radio!’ They were playing ‘Walk On The Wild Side.’ The funny thing is that, while I knew the Velvet Underground’s music, I’d never met Lou Reed. I called him up and said, ‘How do you know this stuff about me?’ He said, ‘Holly, you have the biggest mouth in town.’ We met and we’ve been friends ever since.

and the coloured girls go…

Walk on the Wild Side somehow flew under the censorship radar that shot down so many 70s songs. It mentioned subjects as varied as trans-sexuality, drugs, male prostitutes and oral sex. Only the Americans heard the lyric clearly. In the US, an edited version of the song was released as a single removing the reference to oral sex.

walk on the wild side fax

  • Walk on the Wild Side is from Lou Reed’s Transformer album. The B-side features the uber-fantastico Perfect Day.
  • David Bowie produced Walk on the Wild Side and the wonderful sax solo is by Ronnie Ross who was David Bowie’s childhood saxophone teacher. The bass is played by the renowned Herbie Flowers.
  • While, no doubt, many people have sung Walk on the Wild Side, I can think of no notable cover versions. Although, Young@Heart perform Walk on the Wild Side in concert and U2 sang it as a refrain to Bad during Live Aid in 1985.
  • In The Simpsons’ episode Selma’s Choice, the singers at Duff Gardens perform a kid-friendly version of Walk On The Wild Side.
  • From memory, on the album cover it states that “the coloured girls” are David Bowie and Mick Ronson.
  • Walk on the Wild Side lyrics.

walk on the wild side – lou reed – 1972 – video – live

walk on the wild side – lou reed – 1972 – video – studio version

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Robin Gibb – 1949 – 2012

May 21, 2012

Bee Gees singer Robin Gibb has died after a long battle with cancer.

In a statement, Gibb’s family announced his death with ”great sadness”.

Gibb, 62, who had undergone intestinal surgery, notched up dozens of hits with brothers Maurice and Barry – as performers and writers – and sold more than 200 million records.

”The family of Robin Gibb, of the Bee Gees, announce with great sadness that Robin passed away today following his long battle with cancer and intestinal surgery. The family have asked that their privacy is respected at this very difficult time,” the statement said.

Read entire article

Donna Summer – The Queen of Disco

May 18, 2012

(CBS/AP) Disco queen Donna Summer has died, a family spokesperson told the Associated Press. She was 63.

Her family released a statement Thursday saying Summer had died and that they “are at peace celebrating her extraordinary life and her continued legacy.”‘

Summer had been living in Englewood, Fla., with her husband Bruce Sudano.

TMZ first reported the news, noting Summer had died in Florida on Thursday after a long battle with cancer. Insiders told TMZ she was recently working on music for a new album.

Known as the “Queen of Disco,” Summer was born LaDonna Adrian Gaines in Boston, Mass., in 1948, as one of seven children. She was raised on Gospel music

The five-time Grammy winner rose to fame in the 1970s, scoring hits with “Last Dance,” “Hot Stuff” and “Bad Girls.” She co-wrote the single “Love to Love You Baby” in 1975, and went on to co-write several other hits, including “She Works Hard For Her Money.”

“Love to Love You Baby” was her U.S. chart debut and the first of 19 No. 1 dance hits between 1975 and 2008 – second only to Madonna.

During the disco era, she burned up the charts: She was the only artist to have three consecutive double-LPs hit No. 1, “Live and More,” “Bad Girls” and “On the Radio.” She was also the first female artist with four No. 1 singles in a 13-month period, according to the Rock Hall of Fame, where she was a nominee this year.

 Read Full CBS story

My Baby Loves Lovin’ – White Plains – 1970

May 17, 2012

Now, here’s one a few of you will have forgotten about; The 1970 song, My Baby Loves Lovin’ by one-hit-wonders, White Plains.

chewin’ music

So, I was thinking it’s been a while since we had any bubble gum music on this seventiesmusic blog. Then, I’m in Big Fresh grabbing some milk and on comes White Plains‘ hit, My Baby Loves Lovin’ and, for a couple of minutes I’m in 70’s bubble gum heaven.

tony burrows – mr bubble gum

(There has been some discussion over who sang the lead vocals on this song. Attributed to Tony Burrows, it appears it may well have been Rick Wolff. Check out the comments below – thanks to the seventiesmusic fan who contacted us)

If you know anything about 1970s bubble gum music you’ll know the name Tony Burrows. You see, the bubble gum bands tended to be manufactured bands. First a song was written. It was recorded by session musicians and, if it was a hit, a band would be formed to travel around and perform it.

Tony Burrows was a bubble gum songwriter, extraordinaire. Check this out

Tony Burrows was (and still is) a session singer from the UK. He is credited with providing the lead vocals for on hit singles for more groups than any other recording artist n history. And that includes on the UK and the US singles charts.

Tony sang the lead vocals for:

That’s pretty good going!

On February 26, 1970, Tony set a record that stands to this day – he became the only person to ever appear on BBC Television’s Top of the Pops fronting three different bands in the same show: Edison Lighthouse, White Plains, and Brotherhood of Man.

white plains

Though named after a town in the USA, White Plains were a British band. White Plains began as The Ivy League. Then, with a few personnel changes, became The Flower Pot Men before another personnel change or two saw White Plains born.

trivia time

The Flower Pot Men contained two founding members of Deep Purple – Jon Lord and Nick Simper.

back to white plains

White Plains had only one hit – My Baby Loves Lovin’. It was recorded very late in 1969 and was released in very early 1970. By the time of release, Tony Burrows had left the band but that didn’t stop them trying. They toured and recorded until 1976 but never came close to another hit record.

my baby loves lovin’ fax

  • My Baby Loves Lovin’ was written by the hit writing duo, Roger Cook and Roger Greenaway and featured the voice of bubble gum star, Tony Burrows.
  • My Baby Loves Lovin’ was recorded on October 26th 1969 and released on January 9th 1970
  • My Baby Loves Lovin’ features in the 1993 movie, The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.
  • Tony Burrows left the band immediately after recording My Baby Loves Lovin’ so, in the video clip below the band’s bass player, Robin Shaw, is seen lipsyncing the words.
  • Elton John did a version of the song on an album titled, Chartbusters Go Pop: 16 Legendary Covers from 1969 – 1970 as sung by Elton John – see video below.
  • My Baby Loves Lovin’ lyrics.

my baby loves lovin’ – white plains – 1970 video

my baby loves lovin’ – cover version by elton john – 1970 video

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We’re an American Band – Grand Funk Railroad – 1973

May 10, 2012

Sometimes referred to as America’s first real stadium band, Grand Funk Railroad (aka Grand Funk) hit #1 on the US singles charts in 1973 with We’re an American Band.

join a gym – good music and you get to look like me!

Man, for fans of 70s music my gym is so good (if you’re keen enough to be there a little after 6am each day). They play song after song from said-decade, so many of them songs I’d all but forgotten about, like this week’s offering.

From 1973, We’re an American Band was Grand Funk Railroad’s first #1 single. It was followed up with Walk Like a Man, The Loco-Motion (also a #1), Some Kind of Wonderful (#3), and Bad Time (#4)

we loved ‘em, they hated ‘em

I can only speak for myself, but I loved Grand Funk Railroad but not everyone did. It became a bit of a frustration to the band that they were constantly panned by music critics. Not that they should have worried, audiences loved them and they constantly packed out arenas – some people refer to Grand Funk as America’s first true stadium band. In 1971, Grand Funk broke The Beatles‘ Shea Stadium attendance record, tickets selling out in just 72 hours – not bad in the pre-electronic ticketing era.

I reckon the name’s pretty cool too. It’s a play on words – the Grand Trunk Railroad is a railroad line that runs through the band’s home town of Flint, Michigan.

what happens on tour stays on tour?

The song’s lyrics are biographical. Don Brewer, the song’s composer explains some of the words:

“Up all night with Freddie King, I’ve got to tell you, poker’s his thing”:”

Freddie King was the opening act for us, the great Blues guitar player from Texas. It always struck me as funny that he would make his band play poker with him every night. We used to sit in on some of the poker games, and that’s where that line came from. His band, he’d pay them, and then he’d go win all the money back so they were broke and they’d have to keep playing for him – it was a great deal.

“four young chiquita’s in Omaha,”

That came from a situation where we checked into this hotel in Omaha, Nebraska, and there were four groupies in the lobby waiting to see the band. ‘four young chiquitas’ sounded a lot better than ‘four young groupies’ or ‘four young girls.’

“Sweet Sweet Connie was doing her act”

Is about Connie Hamzy, a famous groupie known as Sweet Connie. Some of her rumoured conquests include Brewer, John Bonham, Keith Moon, Huey Lewis, Alex and Eddie Van Halen, Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, The Allman Brothers, both Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley of KISS, Neil Diamond, every male member of Fleetwood Mac, David Lee Roth, Sammy Haggar, all of ZZ Top, Gedde Lee, Buddy Rich, Don Henley and many, many others, and Bill Clinton when he was governor of Arkansas. This song made her famous, and in 2010 VH1 ran a special about her life. According to Hamzy, she didn’t have “the whole band,” as stated in the lyrics, but she came pretty close – Mark Farner was a holdout.

still on track

The band is still going strong, touring throughout the US with all but one of the original members (unfortunately, it’s the lead guitarist and singer). Another ex-member, Craig Frost, is the keyboardist for Bob Seager’s, Silver Bullet Band.

we’re an american band fax

  • We’re an American Band was written by Grand Funk Railroad’s drummer Don Brewer and produced by the iconic Todd Rundgren.
  • Don Brewer also took control of the lead vocals.
  • Released on July 16, 1973, We’re an American Band hit #1 on the US singles chart in late 1973.
  • We’re an American Band is autobiographical.
  • We’re an American Band is #99 on VH1’s 100 Greatest Hard Rock Songs.
  • Like so many great rock songs, We’re an American Band has appeared on an episode of The Simpsons.
  • Poison, Kid Rock and The Village People have all covered the song.
  • We’re an American Band lyrics.

we’re an american band – grand funk railroad – 1973 – video

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Ohio – Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young – 1970

May 3, 2012

One of the best known protest songs from the years of the Vietnam War focuses on an event that’s 42 years old this week – Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young’s 1970 hit, Ohio.


I confess, I didn’t actually hear this song this week but, for those of you who LIKE seventiesmusic on Facebook, you’ll have seen in This Week in Music, that this Saturday – May 4th – is the 42nd anniversary of this song.

42 years!!! Where does the time go? (as my grandma used to say).

c s n & y

Crosby, Stills, and Nash began as (and still tour as) a trio – Young joined later. All three members had belonged to a significant band; David Crosby = The Byrds, Stephen Stills = the fabulous Buffalo Springfield, and Graham Nash = The Hollies.

spreading the word

From the beginning the band made no secret of their political leanings with regards to the Vietnam War. They recorded two songs venting their displeasure.

The first was Chicago, an answer to the trial of the Chicago 7 – a group of anti-war activists arrested during demonstrations and riots in downtown Chicago during the Democratic National Convention of 1968.

The second song,  Ohio, was a response to the deaths of four students at Kent State University. The students were shot by Ohio National Guardsmen during an anti-war protest on 4th May 1970.

There were a number of aspects to Ohio that made it revolutionary. In the main, that it was so bold in its denouncing of the US Government and its role in the Vietnam conflict. It even went as far as to name the then President, Richard Nixon.

The band continues to concern itself with political issues. Their latest statement is contained within the song, Almost Gone (The Ballad Of Bradley Manning), which protests the conditions surrounding the trial of Bradley Manning.

ohio fax

  • Ohio was written by Neil Young. He wrote the lyrics after seeing the photos in Life Magazine of the killing of four students at Kent State University.
  • Ohio was recorded live in just three takes.
  • Ohio peaked at #14 on the US singles chart.
  • David Crosby once said;

Neil keeping Nixon’s name in that song is the bravest thing I ever heard.

  • Ohio was banned by some radio stations because of its challenge to the Nixon Administration.
  • In 2004, Ohio was listed as the 385th Greatest Song of All Time by Rolling Stone Magazine.
  • Neil Young said Ohio was the best song he wrote with CSN&Y. He included it on his 1977 Greatest Hits album Decade.
  • Neil Young continued to be politically active. He was a vocal critic of American foreign policy throughout the Vietnam War and became a voice of dissent during the George W. Bush administration, when songs like Let’s Impeach The President spoke out against the president and his war in Iraq.
  • Ohio has been covered by: The Isley Brothers, Paul Weller, Devo (two members of Devo were students at Kent State University when the killings occurred – Chrissie Hyne was also a student at the time), Mott the Hoople. The Dandy Warhols placed a version of the song on their 2004 B-sides and covers album Come on Feel the Dandy and Ben Harper.
  • Ohio lyrics.

ohio – crosby, stills, nash and young – 1970 – video

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