On June 3rd, 1970, Ray Davies would make a remarkable 6,000-mile trip to re-record just one line on The Kinks’ now-iconic song ‘Lola’. In what would turn out to be a mammoth hit in the year that followed, the release put a stop to the band’s declining fortunes and put The Kinks firmly back on the map.
In what is a truly bizarre story in the modern age, one in which artists are now capable of creating a full album from their home DIY studio, it offers a glaringly wonderful insight into the creation of music in the analogue era. In the early 1970s, without the use of Logic or Pro Tools, Ray Davies had no other option but to make a mammoth journey back to London in the middle of the band’s US tour. While that might not seem an impressive feat on its own, Davies did so without missing a single concert, returning just in time to play New York the following night.
This was a strange period for The Kinks. The band were keen to build up their US fanbase once more following a four-year ban which had just come to an end, a period of flux after they were reprimanded in 1965 for rowdy on-stage antics that had ground their presence Stateside to a halt. The downturn in success meant the band couldn’t afford to cancel the New York show and risk upsetting their American fanbase who had waited so long to see them perform live.
The two previous LP’s from the Londoners, which were released in 1968 and 1969 respectively, were both astronomical flops commercially and had left The Kinks’ career in dire straits. Both of the aforementioned records had failed to chart in the UK top 40 or the top 100 across the pond.
The poor performances had meant that The Kinks needed to make sure that their next move was the right one and, more importantly, they couldn’t cause any issues that would hamper their comeback. ‘Lola’ meanwhile, is a delightful masterpiece which, it would seem, arrived as the perfect way for the band to announce their return to form—but there was one problem that Davies needed to rectify if the track was to be a success.
Davies had penned the material in an effort to gain radio play and there was one thing stopping them from his mainstream goal. The song, in its original form, featured the brand name ‘Coca Cola’ which needed to change if the BBC were ever going to play ‘Lola’. When Davies got wind of this issue, he flew straight to London to change the lyric to ‘Cherry Cola’, which is the lyric we would all end up knowing.
Prior to ‘Lola’, The Kinks had not had a top 20 single for over two years, which all changed after they released ‘Lola’ as the number found its way to number two in Great Britain as well as topping the charts in South Africa, New Zealand, the Netherlands and becoming a global sensation which would put their career back on the right path.