One of the most influential songs in the history of hard rock reaches its half-century.
The song is “You Really Got Me” by the Kinks. Released in August 1964, the song came out around the same time the British Invasion was taking hold in America, and it was included in the band’s debut album. Penned by Ray Davies, the song built around power chords (perfect fifths and octaves), and created a distortion guitar sound, which would go on to influence not only hard rock, but also the sub-genres heavy metal and punk rock.
“You Really Got Me” topped the UK charts, and also cracked the top ten in three other countries (including the U.S., where it hit number seven). Soon after, the song’s guitar solo would become a source of controversy and myths in rock history, as some people claimed it played not by guitarist Dave Davies, but by Jimmy Page (later of the Yardbirds and then Led Zeppelin). Page himself has always denied the fact, but that rumor had fostered around the UK’s rhythm and blues community, before finally being put to rest by producer Shel Talmy.
“You Really Got Me” kicked off a successful career for the Kinks. But most importantly, the song had begun to influence other musicians upon release, beginning with the Who’s Pete Townshend. The song would also be covered by numerous artists including Peter Gabriel, Metallica, and Robert Palmer. But the most significant cover of “You Really Got Me” came from Van Halen, who recorded the song in 1978. Their version became a top forty hit, and among the other covers, became the biggest radio staple even to this day.
As it is ranked as one of the greatest songs of all time, “You Really Got Me” has placed as one of the top 100 in various publications including Rolling Stone and Q magazines.