On June 3rd 1970, Ray Davies would make a remarkable 6,000-mile trip to re-record just one line on the now-iconic song ‘Lola’ in what would turn out to be a huge hit in the year that followed, putting a stop to the band’s declining career and putting The Kinks firmly back on the map.
It truly is a bizarre story in the modern age in which artists are now capable of creating full albums from home, a process which has only been emphasised during the current pandemic. In the early 1970s, however, Ray Davies had no other option but to make this vast journey to London during the band’s US tour without missing a show, 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 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 Londoners previous two LP’s that were released in 1968 and 1969 respectively, Arthur (Or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire) and The Village Green Preservation Society, were both astronomical flops commercially which 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’ 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 achieving this. 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’ which found it’s 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.