Lola – The Kinks – 1970

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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6 Responses to Lola – The Kinks – 1970

  1. Miki says:

    Still evoking those memories, thanks! My favourites were in the 60s but hey, they kept on going! Another greatly identifiable voice but of course the drugs have inevitably taken their toll!! long may they survive. I loved Dedicated Follower of Fashion!

    • Greg.K. says:

      Great memories. Sometimes I wish I could delve a little more into the sixties. (Maybe I could start a sixtiesmusic blog??).
      Many people think of Lola as the start of The Kinks hit song career but, far from it. They had a string of 60s hits.
      Do you remember: Sunny Afternoon? Waterloo Sunset? Plastic Man?
      (The latter was very similar to Dedicated Follower of Fashion in that it was satirical and it was written specifically for the hit parade – written one day, recorded the next, released within a week).
      G.

      • Miki says:

        Definitely remember the first two but had never heard Plastic Man. The songs were earlier than I’d thought – for some reason I’d placed them later in the 60s so they must have retained the airplay for quite a while. How do you know all this?!

  2. Greg.K. says:

    The reason I remember Plastic Man so well is that I love the Monkees and this song always sounded so much like them (to my ears).
    How do I know all this? An interest in music and a good memory BUT I would hate for any real music officianado to read this stuff. I’m sure I sometimes get things wrong and there are people out there who are musical encyclopaedias!!

  3. Steven says:

    True story about Robert Wace incident, I knew Robert well about 15 years ago and he told me the story about the tranny, not realising it was guy, I think Well respected man was written about Robert too, Robert was working for the Foreign office, he had written an unpublished autobiography, lost touch sadly.

    • Greg.K. says:

      The stories behind songs can be truly fascinating. It must be strange to go through life knowing a well-known song was written about you, but never divulging it… e.g. You’re So Vain, etc.

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