You Really Got Me

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"You Really Got Me"
Dutch single sleeve
Single by The Kinks
from the album Kinks
B-side "It's All Right"
Released 4 August 1964
Format 7" single
Recorded July 1964, IBC Studios, London, England
Genre Hard rock,[1] garage rock[2]
Length 2:14
Label Pye 7N 15673
Reprise 0306
Writer(s) Ray Davies
Producer(s) Shel Talmy
The Kinks singles chronology
"You Still Want Me"
"You Really Got Me"
"All Day and All of the Night"
Audio sample
file info · help
"You Really Got Me (live)"
Single by The Kinks
from the album One for the Road
B-side "Attitude"
Released 29 October 1980
Format 7" single
Recorded Lowell Memorial Auditorium, Lowell, MA, 6 March 1979
Genre Hard rock
Length 3:35
Label Arista AS 0577 (US)
Writer(s) Ray Davies
Producer(s) Ray Davies
The Kinks US singles chronology
"Lola (live)"
"You Really Got Me (live)"

"You Really Got Me" is a song written by Ray Davies and performed by The Kinks. It was released on 4 August 1964 as the group's third single, and reached No. 1 on the UK 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 No. 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 genres of heavy metal and punk 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 No. 82 on their list of the 500 greatest songs of all time and at No. 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, Q magazine placed it at No. 9 in its list of the 100 Greatest Guitar Tracks.[9] In 2009, it was named the 57th Greatest Hard Rock Song by VH1.[10]


[The original demo version of 'You Really Got Me'] had very way-out words and a funny sort of ending that didn't. We did it differently on the record because [this original version] was really rather uncommercial.

– Ray Davies[11]

"You Really Got Me" was first written by Ray Davies sometime between 9 and 12 March 1964.[11] Created on the piano in the front room of the Davies' home, the song was stylistically very different from the finished product, being much lighter and somewhat jazz-oriented.[11] Ray said of the song's writing, "When I came up with ['You Really Got Me'] I hadn't been writing songs very long at all. It was one of the first five I ever came up with."[11]

During the spring of 1964, Ray Davies played an early version of "You Really Got Me" on piano to rock photographer Allan Ballard during a photo shoot. Ballard later remembered, "It was quite a small, pokey, Victorian Terrace, a bit scruffy, and in the hallway they had an upright piano. Ray sat down and plonked out, 'Der-der, der, Der-der!' He said, 'What do you reckon to this?' It meant nothing to me at the time, but it ended up as 'You Really Got Me'."[12]

Ray, initially planning for the song to be a "more laid-back number", later played the chords of the song to brother Dave. However, upon hearing the track, Dave decided that the riff would be much more powerful on a guitar.[12] Ray said of the track's change to a guitar-centered track, "I wanted it to be a jazz-type tune, because that's what I liked at the time. It's written originally around a sax line. ... Dave ended up playing the sax line in fuzz guitar and it took the song a step further."[11]

According to the band's manager, Larry Page, the song's characteristic riff came about while working out the chords of The Kingsmen's "Louie Louie".[13] In 1998, Ray said: "I'd written 'You Really Got Me' as tribute to all those great blues people I love: Lead Belly and Big Bill Broonzy."[14] His brother, Dave Davies, cited Gerry Mulligan as an inspiration, saying, "Ray was a great fan of Gerry Mulligan, who was in [the Jazz on a Summer's Day movie], and as he sat at the piano at home, he sort of messed around in a vein similar to Mulligan and came up with this figure based on a 12-bar blues".[11] Dave has also said that song had been inspired by Jimmy Giuffre's song "The Train and the River".[15]


The Kinks' "You Really Got Me" guitar riff. About this sound Play 

The song was recorded by the Kinks at least twice in the summer of 1964. The band's demo was in a "bluesy" style, while a full studio version recorded in June was slower and less emphatic than the final single.[16] The group was under tremendous pressure for a hit from their record company, Pye, after their first two single releases had failed to chart. But 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, threatening that he would refuse to perform or promote the single unless it was re-recorded. The then-unfamiliar song had been getting good audience reaction during the Kinks' live shows, and Davies wanted to capture that feel. When Pye stood its ground, the band's own management broke the stalemate by funding the session themselves. Ray Davies' adamant attitude on behalf of the career-making song effectively established him as the leader and chief songwriter of the Kinks. Davies later said, "I was floundering around trying to find an identity. It was in 1964 that I managed to do that, to be able to justify myself and say, 'I exist, I'm here.' I was literally born when that song hit."[17]

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.[15]

Recent Kinks' releases have given full official credits for the musicians on the track.[18][19] 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.

Guitar solo[edit]

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.[20] 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."[21] 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.[22]

Shel Talmy, the producer on the track, has 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."[23] Talmy later re-emphasised the point in an interview with The Guardian saying "contrary to myth, Jimmy didn't play on 'You Really Got Me'."[15]

In a 7 November 2014 interview with SiriusXM's 'Town Hall', Jimmy Page corrected the infamous rumor once and for all by stating "Oh, Crikey! I wasn't on 'You Really Got Me,' but I did play on the Kinks' records. That's all I'm going to say about it. But every time I do an interview, people ask me about 'You Really Got Me.' So maybe somebody can correct Wikipedia so people won't keep asking me." [24]

Ray Davies, in his autobiographical release Storyteller (Capitol, ASIN: B00000635E, released 21 April 1998),[25] 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 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' 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.[14]


"You Really Got Me" was released as the band's third single on 4 August 1964, backed with "It's Alright".[26] Within three days of the single's release, "You Really Got Me" began to appear on local charts. Eventually, the song climbed to the top of the British charts, the band's first single to do so.[26] Ray Davies later claimed that, due to the single's high demand, Pye Records put all their other records on hold to solely produce copies of "You Really Got Me".[26] Due to the high level of success the single achieved in the UK, a rush-release of "You Really Got Me" was put out in America on 2 September 1964, despite being delayed from its initial release date of 26 August.[27] Although it did not enter the charts until 26 September, the record rose to #7 on the Billboard Hot 100.[27]

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.


Chart succession[edit]

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

Van Halen version[edit]

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

US hard rock band Van Halen recorded the song for their 1978 debut album, Van Halen. As the band's first single, it was a popular radio hit which helped jump-start the band's career,[35] as it had done for The Kinks 14 years earlier. The song was later used on the soundtrack for the early Ron Howard film Night Shift. In addition, "Really Got Me" along with "Dance the Night Away" appeared in the 1997 comedy Private Parts. On the radio, it has been frequently played together with "Eruption", the instrumental that precedes it on the album.[36] The Van Halen version was the soundtrack of the celebrated,[37] award-winning[38] 1996 Nissan commercial Toys in which "Nick", driving a toy Nissan 300ZX, entices "Roxanne" out on a date, to "Tad"'s dismay.[39] Mattel sued,[40] but settled.[41] It was also used by Nissan for its Japanese commercials.[42] 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 Kinks' Dave 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".[43] Ray Davies, on the other hand, claimed to like the track because it made him laugh.[44]


Chart (1978) Peak
US Billboard Hot 100 36



  1. ^ "The Top Hard Rock Songs". AllMusic. 
  2. ^ a b Creswell, Toby. 1001 Songs, p. 684. (Hardie Grant Publishing). ISBN 1-74066-458-2.
  3. ^ a b "Kinks". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 2 July 2013. 
  4. ^ a b "The Kinks awards on Allmusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 2 July 2013. 
  5. ^ a b Walser, Robert (1993). Running with the Devil: Power, Gender, and Madness in Heavy Metal Music, p. 9. Wesleyan University Press. ISBN 0-8195-6260-2.
  6. ^ a b Sullivan, Denise. "Review of 'You Really Got Me' ". AllMusic.
  7. ^ "Grammy Hall of Fame Award" Retrieved 20 December 2012
  8. ^ "The 100 Greatest Guitar Songs of All Time". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on 25 June 2008. Retrieved 23 June 2010. 
  9. ^ "Greatest Guitar Tracks" 21 March 2005. Ultimate Guitar.
  10. ^ "VH1 Top 100 Hard Rock Songs (list)". 1 January 2009. Retrieved 7 February 2009. 
  11. ^ a b c d e f Hinman 2004, pp. 24.
  12. ^ a b Jovanovic 2014, pp. 64.
  13. ^ Hasted 2011.
  14. ^ a b "Ray Davies Lyrics - The Third Single (dialogue)".
  15. ^ a b c Simpson, Dave (10 June 2013). "How we made You Really Got Me". The Guardian (London). ISSN 0261-3077. OCLC 60623878. Retrieved 24 June 2013. 
  16. ^ Hinman 2004, pp. 28.
  17. ^ Jovanovic 2014, pp. 64-67.
  18. ^ "The Kinks "Picture Book (Box Set)" (2008, Sanctuary Records)". AllMusic.  (booklet)
  19. ^ "The Kinks Deluxe Edition (2011, Sanctuary Records)".  (booklet)
  20. ^ "Jon Lord's Purple Reign" Joe Lalaina, Modern Keyboard Magazine, January 1989. (Archived at "The Highway Star" Deep Purple Fan site.) Retrieved 24 June 2011.
  21. ^ Buskin, Richard (September 2009). "The Kinks ‘You Really Got Me’ Classic Track". Sound On Sound magazine. Retrieved 24 June 2011. 
  22. ^ Hinman 2004, pp. 30.
  23. ^ Corbin (22 August 2012). "Interview: Shel Talmy". Finding Zoso. Retrieved 24 June 2013. 
  24. ^
  25. ^ Storyteller. AllMusic
  26. ^ a b c Hinman 2004, pp. 31.
  27. ^ a b Hinman 2004, pp. 34.
  28. ^ "You really got me in Canadian Top Singles Chart". Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved 2 July 2013. 
  29. ^ "You really got me in French Chart" (in French). Dominic DURAND / InfoDisc. 2 July 2013. Retrieved 2 July 2013.  You have to use the index at the top of the page and search "The Kinks"
  30. ^ " – The Kinks – You Really Got Me". GfK Entertainment.
  31. ^ "You really got me in Irish Chart". IRMA. Retrieved 2 July 2013.  Only one result when searching "You really got me"
  32. ^ "Indice per Interprete: K". HitParadeItalia (it). Retrieved 2 July 2013. 
  33. ^ "Top 100 End of Year UK Charts - 1964". 
  34. ^ "Billboard Top 100 - 1970". Retrieved 2011-01-03. 
  35. ^ "Van Halen - Inductee 2007". Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame. 12 March 2007. Retrieved 8 May 2009.
  36. ^ "'You Really Got Me' song facts"; Songfacts, LLC. Retrieved 26 June 2010.
  37. ^ "Best Advertising Of 1996". Bellafante et al., Time. 23 December 1996. Retrieved 29 September 2009
  38. ^ "1997 CLIO Award Winners". CLIO Awards. 1997. Archived from the original on 13 January 1998.  "Toys": Gold, Bronze(2), Television/Cinema category.
  39. ^ "A Car Ad That Floors Viewers". Robert Dominguez, Daily News (New York). 29 October 1996. Retrieved 3 July 2009.
  40. ^ "Mattel Sues Nissan Over TV Commercial". The New York Times. 20 September 1997. Archived from the original on 15 August 2010. Retrieved 27 December 2010. 
  41. ^ "Battleground Barbie: When Copyrights Clash" Peter Hartlaub, The Los Angeles Daily News. 31 May 1998. Retrieved 3 July 2009.
  42. ^ "Nissan Skyline R34 Early" on YouTube (video). TV Commercial. (Japanese).
  43. ^ "Dave Davies Slams Van Halen's The Kinks Cover". Road Runner Records. 2 August 2010.
  44. ^ Jovanovic 2014, pp. 244.


  • Hasted, Nick (2011). You Really Got Me: The Story of The Kinks. Omnibus Press. ISBN 978-1849386609. 
  • Hinman, Doug (2004). The Kinks: All Day and All of the Night: Day by Day Concerts, Recordings, and Broadcasts, 1961-1996. Backbeat Books. ISBN 978-0879307653. 
  • Jovanovic, Rob (2014). God Save The Kinks: A Biography. Aurum Press Ltd. ISBN 978-1781311646. 

External links[edit]