LAMPTON, Joe (Where are they now? on PA1) : Anti-hero of John Braines’s novel ‘Room at the top’, Eyre & Spotiswode, 1957. I quote from the back blurb from the Arrow paperback edition, reissued 2000. Ray could have written it :
“The bestselling story of Joe Lampton, the original ‘angry young man.’ The ruthlessly ambitious JL rises swiftly from the petty bureaucracy of local government into the unfamiliar world of inherited wealth, fast cars and glamorous women. But the price of success is high and betrayal and tragedy strike as JL pursues his goals.”
It holds up remarkably well; a very English angry take on class of course. Opening sentence: “I came to Warley on a wet September morning with the sky the grey of Guiseley sandstone. I was alone in the compartment. I remember saying to myself : ‘No more zombies, Joe, no more zombies’.” You want to read on. ‘Room at the top’ became one of those films that seems to have had a big impact on Ray’s world view, Lawrence Harvey and Simone Signoiret starring, she being the tragic passion (she commits suicide though she was unhappy before he gave her some hope) as opposed to the social climbing side of his love life. Joe ends up opportunistically marrying into northern industrial wealth, the boss’s daughter no less. In a sequel, ‘Life at the top’, published in 1962, with Joe 10 years further on down the line, he has become bored with having achieved material gains. He wants to be his own man, champing at the bit of his father in law’s strong influence on his existence. He’s drawn into local Tory politics and there’s a putative attempt at escape to London with a lover but the pull of family and the children drags him back to a sort of acceptance, a sort of independence and a sort of love of his wife, who has a few surprises up her own sleeve too, not least supporting Joe against her father’s displeasure with him. “He wants to please everybody, and he wants to be his own master, too.” There’s a certain self-knowledge achieved. A good read, an interesting take on pre-rock ‘n’roll England … I read it because of this project and was surprised at how it grabbed me. Before his success as a writer Bradford born John Braine (1922-1986) was a librarian in Bingley, the obvious model for Warley. Often associated with the Angry Young Men, his later writings became increasingly hostile to progressive socialist thought.
LARRY (Long distance on SOC) : still asleep in bed. Probably not he who follows immediately hereafter. I’m reliably informed (my lips are sealed), it’s Larry Rowell, drum and guitar tech on the February, 1982 tour of Australia and Japan. The song also refers to other members of the touring crew, who appear collectively, along with the band, as the Merry Men.
LARRY (The moneyground on LVPATM) : see PAGE, Larry
LAVINIA (Holiday romance on SO) : she’s the one Norman and/or the star has a fling with on holiday. A very rare and old-fashioned English – heyday Edwardian? – forename indeed.
LEE, Rosie (Have a cuppa tea on MH) : not a person but like Harry Rag, cockney rhyming slang , in this instance for a cup of tea, the healing and restorative properties of which are also mentioned in at least two ther Ray songs. Wonder if I can get Whittards or PG Tips to sponsor this site?
LED ZEPPELIN (The road on RL) : lead guitarist one Jimmy Page, session man extraordinaire who quite definitively did not play the lead on ‘You really got me’. I state that without any trace of irony – he just didn’t. Let it go, world. The band really shouldn’t be blamed for all the heavy metal copyists that followed in their wake. Many of their finest moments drew from Celtic, folk or World Music inspirations. Robert Plant (aka Percy – synchronicity) had a great expressive voice when he wasn’t shrieking in a high register, which unfortunately was most of the time. Has there been anything more powerful than ‘When the levee breaks’ from their fourth album? Seriously.
LENNON, John (Unfinished business) : ‘Wonderboy’ was his favourite Kinks song. There’s a story about him on a shared package tour the Beatles shared with the Kinks in ‘ X-Ray’. The Kinks don’t get a mention in Bill Harry’s ‘John Lennon Encyclopedia.’
LEONARDO DA VINCI (20th century man on MH) : oh come on, you know, Leo. All round genius, the original Renaissance man. Mona Lisa, submarines etc etc. The album cover of ‘Lola versus Powerman and the Moneyground’ is based on one of his drawings. Also drew some revered cartoons but like Shakespeare’s clowns the humour seems to have been lost over the centuries. I’m not even going to mention Dan Brown’s appallingly written novel (OK, it has a certain narrative drive) ‘The da Vinci code’, which contains some interesting stuff about Leo, because the whole world’s read it already.
But about Mona Lisa. Bob Dylan says she “… musta had the highway blues, you can tell by the way she smiles” (Visions of Johanna); Ray Davies he say, ” … ask yourself why she’s smiling like that. Maybe she had a gap in her teeth like mine. Her whole life is altered by that one deviation.” (John Mendelssohn in ‘The Kinks Kronikles’; said to a British music journalist, no citation given.)
LEWIS, Jerry Lee (One of the survivors on PA1) : Goodness gracious, great balls of fire. That one – the white Little Richard who had a later career as a country singer. Never to be confused – as no doubt future archaeologists are bound to do – with the supposed comedian and film star who was plain old Jerry Lewis, whose appeal and alleged humour has always been a complete mystery to me (not unlike Jim Carrey). Played Iago in Jack Good’s musical production of Othello, ‘Catch my soul’ – there’s a stunning track to be found from that, first brought to my attention on Bob Dylan’s Theme Time Radio Hour; Bob said somethink like, if anyone asks for a reason for his doing Theme Time Radio Hour, look no further than that track. Definitely worth seeking out.
LIL, Aunt (Fortis Green) : liked her gin.
LITTLE MAN (Cliches of the world on SOC) : Ray is often presented as the champion of the ordinary life, and by extension the little man, but he can be pretty cruel too (Mr Pleasant et al). Here there is a compassion in the music for a life ground down by, well, life. It does need to be said, though, that the little man seems to share the UFOlogical interests of Brother Dave.
LITTLE PRINCESS (Heart of gold on SOC) : she’s certainly grown see princess ANNE.
LOLA (LvPATM): who? (This is a joke. Kinks fans can get a little tired of people responding to being given the knowledge that one is rather partial to the musical oeuvre of said band with comments like, “Oh yeah, The Kinks. Lola. Great!” Is one a little sick of said song? Indeed, oftentimes, yay. That said, that climbing opening chord sequence (C-D-E) is a fairly unique one in the realms of popular music and is still capable of rousing the spirits … And it certainly is very pleasing to play on the guitar. So … )
LOLA: “‘Lola’ is several people really. I tried to analyze it because I do think she’s several people. Suppressed love.” So says Ray from an interview with Scott Cohen in Circus in 1974. That clears that one up then.
Two main stories emerge from various interviews with a few variations as to the event or events leading to the song’s genesis. Mick Avory is the main man in the most quoted one, and is the one told at formal Kast Off Kinks gigs (see the Pete Quaife version below). There’s also one of the managers (presumably Robert or Grenville), as told by Ray to John Wilson for the Radio4 Mastertapes series, the episode aired in November, 2012:
“It was inspired by an incident in a bar in Paris, a very fashionable club … It was my manager who said, ‘Ray, looks like a woman’. I said, ‘It really is a woman, go and ask her to dance,’ and I knew it was a transvestite. I just wanted to see the reaction to it. so i was more like a reporter than a songwriter … You know, the evil thing about being the songwriter, the quiet one, is that you can coax other people into doing things you just wanted to … take note of the incident.” “I still don’t know for sure whether it was a transvestite or a transexual.”
There was some discussion on the Kinks Preservation Society web digest as to the provenance of the name Lola, and why that particular appelation was plucked out of the air at this juncture. Jim Smart in Hawaii started it off by bringing to our attention the remarkable Lola Montez, role model extraordinaire, who is credited as being the inspiration for the expression, “Whatever Lola wants, Lola gets”. Born in Ireland, as Marie Dolores Eliza Rosanna Gilbert, the date variously quoted as 1817, 1818 or 1821, she spent time as a child in India, Scotland and England before eloping with a soldier – it didn’t last. Emerged as ‘Lola Montez the Spanish dancer’ in 1843 and toured Europe. Famed for her suggestive Tarantula (or plain old Spider) Dance. Became Ludwig of Bavaria’s mistress but was forced out of Bavaria by the revolution of 1848. She performed widely in the US. Three marriages, various scandals and lovers including Franz Liszt, much talked about and no great talent apparently. Among her published works are ‘Anecdotes of Love; Being a True Account of the Most Remarkable Events Connected with the History of Love; in All Ages and among All Nations’ (1858) and ‘The Arts of Beauty, or, Secrets of a Lady’s Toilet with Hints to Gentlemen on the Art of Fascination’ (1858). Also toured Australia, dying aged 40 and maybe a few years in 1861, in Hells Kitchen, New York. Ahead of her time, obviously. Can’t resist quoting Clive James from his Point of View column in the BBC website News Magazine dated November 20, 2009:
” … slept her way so close to the very top that Ludwig I of Bavaria was shaken on his throne. Lizst was on her list, too. She had a ball from start to finish.”
Ayrton in Brazil demurred, and suggested the character more directly responsible for the popularization of Lola as a woman’s name, particularly as a nom de guerre for very attractive and seductive ones, was Lola-Lola, as played by Marlene Dietrich ‘The blue angel’. (“I am the glamourous Lola…”). He also suggested that some of us may know about Los Brincos, the Beatles of Spain in the 1960s, who did a song called ‘Lola’ before the Kinks (in 1967, recorded in England and produced by Larry Page). Well we do now. “And there was also Lola Flores, a great Latin singer from the first half of the 20th century, deceased a few years ago!” added the estimable Ayrton. Steve Swain then put a word in: “Let’s not forget my favorite: Lola Falana, whose poster poses said she’s glad I’m a man. (Laugh here, I promised … I would try to add tone of voice to my emails from now on). Who knows? She might have once met Ray backstage in the ’60s.” So she may, but I’m not convinced. Discovered by Sammy Davis Jr she had a successful show business career as singer and dancer (she did an unlikely cover of Lee Dorsey’s ‘Working in a coal mine’), achieving Broadway star ‘Queen of Las Vegas’ status and doing loads of tv including Johnny Carson, ‘The new Bill Cosby show’, Laugh In and Bob Hope specials. Career threatened by MS, from which she made a miracle recovery. Then she got serious religion. And so we come full circle.
Duncan Smith offered: “Another possible inspiration for the choice of name might be from the song ‘Whatever Lola Wants (Lola Gets)’, from the 50’s Broadway musical … “Damn Yankees”, which was a comic baseball take on the Faust legend, the film coming out in 1958. Apparently that song was one of the highlights, and the date is about right for an after hours rendition in the front room in Fortis Green.
Getting back to one of the stories behind the song, Pete Quaife contributed what follows to the KPS Digest in a piece dated August 8, 2003, in response to a direct query:
“Any action can be recalled by others in many different ways. I am pretty sure that Ray will recall any Lola incident in many different ways and so would Dave and so would Mick! But you asked me, so here we go:
It was in the late sixties in Copenhagen. Mick had ‘pulled’ a girl that he had met in one of the clubs. The next morning, at breakfast, we asked him about the girl (herein known as The Rat). He smiled knowingly and proceeded to tell us. Apparently The Rat was quite a good looking woman and Mick spent very little time with the usual niceties. He quickly got The Rat into bed and began exploring her gorgeous body. When he got to the underpants he suddenly found something that shouldn’t have been there! Gasp, gasp, gasp! “What did you do?” we all asked. “Nothing,” replied Mick, “I didn’t mind. She really knew how to french kiss …… !”
Now Mick is probably going to kill me for that one so I had better write out my will this afternoon!”
And (October, 2010) I found this gem at Jim Linderman’s fascinating Vintage Sleaze blog, which proves nothing but is further evidence that the name is just out there for this sort of thing. Jim says: “The famous dancer, Miss Lola!. I’ll bet you would love to yank her feet and see the rest of her? WAIT … “gentlemen only” it says. As you get past the calf, things are looking pretty good … and hirsute in fact. wait a minute … WHAT?”
Made in Japan Occupied Paper Toy Novelty. “Miss Lola” Circa 1950
Sorry – just couldn’t resist..
LOLA (Destroyer on GTPWTW) : see above. Self quotation.
LONG TALL SHORTY : see SHORTY
LOUIE (Louie Louie – cover version on an early EP) : the bartender so good they named him twice, to whom the tale (the narrative of the song) is told. “My little girl” remains nameless. The original was by Richard Berry and nothing like this; he didn’t employ the all important minor chord. The Kingsmen version is the inspiration here, simply one of the defining moments of twentieth century world culture. There have been a few compilation albums purely devoted to chronicling various treatments of the song over the years. The most comprehensive is ‘Love that Louie : the Louie Louie files’, released by Ace Records in the UK in 2002, though it doesn’t include the Rice University Marching Owl Band’s joyous celebratory rendition.
LUCY (‘I love Lucy’) (It on OFTR): see Lucille BALL
LUGOSI, Bela (Celluloid heroes on EIS) : born 1882 in Hungary, he was a miner before he became an actor, then a railwayman before returning to the stage. Discharged from the army in 1916 as ‘mentally unstable’ (almost certainly a performance). Made his first films and was on the run because of his Communist associations before emigrating to the US in 1920. Fell on his feet. Stage role as Dracula in 1929 ultimately secured him the film role that was to make his name and set the visual pattern for the character for decades to come, but not before Lon Chaney, who the producers had originally wanted, had died. His was not a spectacular career thereafter. Postumously starred in ‘Plan 9 from outer space’, a film which has topped worst movie of all time surveys. Lugosi’s scenes were from some footage he shot with the Hollywood phenomenon that was Ed Wood, the movie filled out after he could no longer perform by shots of Wood’s wife’s chiropractor whose face was obscured by a cape throughout. He died in 1956. He’d had five wives and an affair with Clara Bow among others. At his own specific request Bela was buried in a Dracula cape. And there we would leave it save for an un-nerving connection to Old Mother Riley, a bizarre movie hook up – stuck in London he needed the money, apparently – entitled ‘Old Mother Riley Meets The Vampire’ (1952). Incredibly, the supporting cast boasts a veritable who’s who of British comic actors and actresses from the next 30 years or so: Richard Wattis, Dora Bryan, Hattie Jacques, Dandy Nicholls, John Le Mesurier and Roger Lloyd Pack (you know Trigger from ‘Only fools and horses’ – his dad). You couldn’t make it up … take a look at http://www.horror-wood.com/riley.htm
The Dangerous Minds website has a neat concise bio piece.
LYNN, Vera (Mr.Churchill says on Arthur) : English chanteuse and forces sweetheart (World War II) who still gets dragged out to sing ‘We’ll meet again’, ‘The white cliff of Dover’ (“There’ll be bluebirds over … “) at the drop of a hat. Inspirational, apparently. I think you had to be there. Which is probably an unkind and cynical statement. In their 2007 reunion /take the money and run tour, the Sex Pistols walked on stage to the strains of her recording of ‘There’ll always be an England’. An East Ender by birth, her musical roots were with the Mayfair dance bands of the ’30s. She came to fame with the Joe Loss Orchestra and later with Ambrose. First solo record was ‘Up the wooden hills to Bedfordshire’; a pre-war hit was ‘Be like a kettle and sing’.
Update Sept 14, 2009: Dame Vera is quoted by the BBC as saying, “I’m staggered” on learning she has become the oldest living artist to top the UK album chart, thus robbing Bob Dylan of this title by almost 30 years. The 92-year-old knocked the previous week’s chart-toppers, Arctic Monkeys, into fourth place and outsold all of the individual remastered Beatles albums released that week with her album, ‘We’ll Meet Again – The Very Best of Vera Lynn’. Lynn insisted her singing days are “well behind her” and said she has no plans to start recording again. The album was originally released to coincide with the 70th anniversary of the declaration of war. One cannot resist the great old show business joke that , “The war was started by Vera Lynn’s agent”.