"You Really Got Me" is a rock song written by Ray Davies and performed by his band, The Kinks. It was released on 4 August 1964 as the group's third single, and reached Number 1 on theUK singles chart the next month, remaining for two weeks.[3] It was the group's breakthrough hit; it established them as one of the top British Invasion acts in the United States, reaching Number 7 there later in the year.[4] It was later included on the Kinks' debut album, Kinks.

"You Really Got Me" was an early hit song built around power chords (perfect fifths and octaves),[5] and heavily influenced later rock musicians, particularly in the sub-genres heavy metal andpunk rock.[2] American musicologist Robert Walser wrote that it is "the first hit song built around power chords"[5] while critic Denise Sullivan of Allmusic writes, "'You Really Got Me' remains a blueprint song in the hard rock and heavy metal arsenal."[6]

In 1999, "You Really Got Me" was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.[7] Rolling Stone magazine placed the song at number 82 on their list of the 500 greatest songs of all time and at number 4 on their list of the 100 Greatest Guitar Songs of All Time.[8] In early 2005, the song was voted the best British song of the 1955–1965 decade in a BBC radio poll. In March 2005, Qmagazine placed it at number 9 in its list of the 100 Greatest Guitar Tracks.[9] In 2009, it was named the 57th Greatest Hard Rock Song by VH1.

History[edit source | editbeta]Edit

[1]The song was recorded by the Kinks in a number of styles in the summer of 1964 before the final sound was achieved. The group was under tremendous pressure for a hit from their record company, Pye, after their two previous single releases failed to chart. Ray Davies in particular was stubbornly persistent in forcing the Kinks' management and record company to take the time and money needed to develop the record's landmark sound and style. Davies' efforts on behalf of the career-making song effectively established him as the leader and chief songwriter of the Kinks.[citation needed]

[2]The Kinks' "You Really Got Me" guitar riff. [3] Play (help·info)

The influential distortion sound of the guitar track was created after guitarist Dave Davies sliced the speaker cone of his guitar amplifier with a razor blade and poked it with a pin.[6] The amplifier was affectionately called "little green," after the name of the amplifier made by the Elpico company, and purchased in Davies' neighbourhood music shop, slaved into a Vox AC-30.[11]

The guitar solo on the recording is the source of one of the most controversial and persistent myths in all of rock and roll: that it was not played by the Kinks' lead guitarist Dave Davies, but by then-session player Jimmy Page, who later joined The Yardbirds and Led Zeppelin. Among those claiming Page played lead guitar was Jon Lord of Deep Purple who also claimed to play piano on the track.[12] Page has always denied playing the song's guitar solo, going so far as to state in a 1970s interview cited in Sound On Sound magazine that "I didn't play on 'You Really Got Me' and that's what pisses him (Ray Davies) off."[13] Rock historian and author Doug Hinman makes a case that the rumour was begun and fostered by the established UK Rhythm and Blues community, many of whose members were resentful that an upstart band of teenagers such as the Kinks could produce such a powerful and influential blues-based recording, seemingly out of nowhere.[citation needed]

Recent Kinks' releases have given full official credits for the musicians on the track.[14][15] Group members Ray Davies (vocals and rhythm guitar). Dave Davies (lead guitar), Pete Quaife (bass) are joined by session men Bobby Graham(drums), and Arthur Greenslade (piano). Regular Kinks drummer Mick Avory plays the tambourine.

Shel Talmy, the Producer on the track has recently gone on record and put the controversy to rest in an interview with the blog, Finding Zoso, "I mean, Jimmy Page did not play the solo on “You Really Got Me” which I’ve said about 5,000 times to people who insist that he did. The reason I used Jimmy on The Kinks stuff is because Ray didn’t really want to play guitar and sing at the same time. In fact, Jimmy was playing rhythm guitar.[16] Talmy later re-emphasized the point in an interview with The Guardian saying "contrary to myth, Jimmy didn't play on You Really Got Me."[11]

Ray Davies in his autobiographical release "Storyteller" (Capitol, ASIN: B00000635E, released April 21, 1998)[17] also addresses the guitar solo on track 28 ("The Third Single"), in which he tells the story of how the Kinks needed to have a hit within their first three singles in order to maintain their record contract. "You Really Got Me" was their third chance. According to Davies, not only did his brother Dave play the solo, but he also yells "fuck off" to Ray Davies right before the solo starts. Per Ray Davies's recounting of the story:

"Halfway through the song it was time for Dave's guitar solo. This moment had to be right. So I shouted across the studio to Dave, give him encouragement. But I seemed to spoil his concentration. He looked at me with a dazed expression. 'Fuck off.' If you doubt me, if you doubt what I'm saying, I challenge you to listen to the original Kinks recording of 'You Really Got Me.' Halfway through the song, after the second chorus, before the guitar solo, there's a drum break. Boo ka, boo boo ka, boo ka, boo boo. And in the background you can hear 'fuck off.' You can, you can. When I did the vocal I tried to cover it up by going "Oh no", but in the background you still hear it 'fuck off.' And it's even clearer on CD, it's really embarrassing."[18]

According to Ray Davies, the song's characteristic riff came about while working out the chords of The Kingsmen's "Louie Louie." Though in 1998, he said: "I'd written 'You Really Got Me' as tribute to all those great blues people I love: Leadbelly and Big Bill Broonzy.[18] His brother Dave Davies however has said that song had been inspired by Jimmy Giuffre's song The Train and the River.[11]

The Kinks' use of distorted guitar riffs continued with songs like "All Day and All of the Night," "Tired of Waiting for You," and "Set Me Free," among others. Pete Townshend of The Who has stated that their first single, "I Can't Explain," was an intentional soundalike of The Kinks' work at the time (The Who were also produced by Talmy at that time).

The Kinks would go on to perform successfully together as a band for over 30 years, through many musical styles, and they would always play "You Really Got Me" in concert. Both Ray and Dave Davies still perform the song in solo shows, generally as a closing number.

Cover versions[edit source | editbeta]Edit

Van Halen version[edit source | editbeta]Edit

"You Really Got Me"
Single by Van Halen
from the album Van Halen
B-side "Atomic Punk"
Released January 28, 1978
Format 7" 45 RPM
Recorded September–October 1977
Genre Hard rockheavy metal
Length 2:35
Label Warner Bros.
Writer(s) Ray Davies
Producer Ted Templeman
Van Halen singles chronology
"You Really Got Me"


"Runnin' with the Devil"


U.S. hard rock band Van Halen recorded [5] "You Really Got Me" (help·info) for their 1978 debut album, Van Halen. It was a popular radio hit which helped jump-start the band's career,[19] as it had done for The Kinks 14 years earlier. The song was used on the soundtrack for the early Ron Howard film Night Shift. On the radio, it has been frequently played together with "Eruption," the instrumental that precedes it on the album.[20] This version was the soundtrack of the celebrated,[21] award-winning[22] 1996 Nissan commercial Toys in which "Nick", driving a toy Nissan 300ZX, entices "Roxanne" out on a date, to "Tad"'s dismay.[23] Mattel sued,[24] but settled.[25] It was also used by Nissan for its Japanese commercials.[26] This version later appeared in the 2003 video game Karaoke Revolution and the 2006 video game Guitar Hero II. The Guitar Hero II version is itself a cover, however, the song was later revisited as a master recording in the Van Halen-themed Guitar Hero game, Guitar Hero: Van Halen.[citation needed]

The KinksDave Davies has gone on record as having a personal dislike of Van Halen's cover of the song and believes "They (Van Halen) would be penniless without The Kinks". He also told of how Kinks fans have approached him and congratulated him on performing a "great cover of the Van Halen song", and how Van Halen fans have approached him to accuse him of "ripping off Van Halen".[27] Ray Davies, on the other hand, liked it.[citation needed]

Use in popular culture[edit source | editbeta]Edit

The 1979 Live recording appears in Electronic Arts Battlefield Vietnam (2004) as a radio choice for vehicles and the loading music for Operation Flaming Dart

The song was played at the end of the Mad Men episode The Other Woman (5th season), as Peggy's expression turned from sadness to a smile and she entered an elevator, having just given her resignation to a stunned Don Draper.

In The Simpsons episode "The Canine Mutiny", Marge Simpson is shown listening to the song on a radio-equipped frying pan.

Charts[edit source | editbeta]Edit

The Kinks version[edit source | editbeta]Edit

Chart (1964-1965) Peak


Canadian RPM Top Singles[28] 4
France (SNEP)[29] 16
Germany (Media Control AG)[30] 39
Irish Singles Chart[31] 6
Italy (FIMI)[32] 28
UK (Official Charts Company)[3] 1
U.S. Billboard Hot 100[4] 7

Van Halen version[edit source | editbeta]Edit

Year Chart Position
1978 Pop Singles 36
Preceded by

"Have I the Right?" by The Honeycombs

UK number one single

"You Really Got Me" 10 September 1964 (2 weeks)

Succeeded by

"I'm into Something Good" by Herman's Hermits

Preceded by

"London Bridge" by Fergie

RIANZ (New Zealand) number-one single

"You Really Got Me" (Boyband version) October 9, 2006 (one week)

Succeeded by

"Sexy Back" by Justin Timberlake

Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.