Classic Rock Wiki

"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 Allmusicwrites, "'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 aBBC 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 byVH1.[10]



  • 1 History
  • 2 Cover versions
  • 3 Van Halen version
  • 4 Use in popular culture
  • 5 Charts
    • 5.1 The Kinks version
    • 5.2 Van Halen version
  • 6 References
  • 7 External links


This section needs additional citations for verification. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. (February 2008)

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. 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' adamance 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 justofy myself and say, 'I exist, I'm here.' I was literally born when that song hit."[11]

The Kinks' "You Really Got Me" guitar riff.  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.[12]

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.[13] Page has always denied playing the song's guitar solo, going so far as to state in a 1970s interview cited inSound on Sound magazine that "I didn't play on 'You Really Got Me' and that's what pisses him (Ray Davies) off."[14] 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.[15][16] 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 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."[17] 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'."[12]

In a November 7, 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." [18]

Ray Davies, in his autobiographical release Storyteller (Capitol, ASIN: B00000635E, released 21 April 1998),[19] 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."[20]

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: Lead Belly and Big Bill Broonzy."[20] His brother Dave Davies however has said that song had been inspired by Jimmy Giuffre's song "The Train and the River".[12]

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][]

  • 801, the short-lived progressive rock supergroup featuring Phil Manzanera and Brian Eno, performed the song in concert, and included it on their 1976 album 801 Live.
  • Alvin and the Chipmunks covered The Kinks' version in their 2007 Alvin and the Chipmunks video game, and covered the Van Halen version with Honor Society for the 2009 film Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel.
  • Tom Baker covered the song for charity in 2006.
  • Deborah Blando covered the song for the Special Edition of her first album, A Different Story, in 1993.
  • Boyband, from New Zealand, released a version in 2006, a New Zealand No. 1 single.
  • Ali Campbell covered the song on his 2010 album Great British Songs.
  • Dalek I, a synthpop band from Liverpool, covered the song on their first album which was released in 1980.
  • Eve 6 covered the song and was featured on The New Guy soundtrack in 2002.
  • Peter Gabriel performed the song in concert on his first post-Genesis solo tour in 1976 but never recorded it.
  • Girl included a cover on their posthumous 1997 studio release Killing Time.
  • The Human Instinct covered and released the song as a single in 1969, and it was also released on their album: Burning Up Years.
  • Dennis Leary crooned the song in the 1993 crime-comedy film National Lampoon's Loaded Weapon 1.
  • Constantine Maroulis released the song as a single in 2011.
  • Metallica recorded the song with Ray Davies on his 2010 album See My Friends.
  • Mott the Hoople released the song as an instrumental on the 1969 album Mott the Hoople.
  • Oingo Boingo covered the song on their 1981 album Only a Lad.
  • Play sang an off-key interpolation in "Disco Hippie" on their self-titled album.
  • Robert Palmer released the song on his 1978 solo album Double Fun.
  • Robots in Disguise covered the song on their 2006 album Get RID!.
  • Salt N Pepa quoted the song in their 1987 hit "Push It".
  • Helen Schneider covered the song on her 1981 album Schneider with the Kick.
  • Search, a Malaysian rock group, covered the song with the lyrics changed into Malay and the song re-titled "Sirih Gambir", on their 1985 debut album Cinta Buatan Malaysia.
  • Sly and the Family Stone covered the song on their 1982 album Ain't but the One Way.
  • Stack Waddy covered and released the song as a single in 1972, on his 1972 album Bugger Off!
  • The 13th Floor Elevators recorded a version that can be found in the bonus tracks of the 2005 reissue of their debut album The Psychedelic Sounds of the 13th Floor Elevators.
  • Ryan Starr and Sanjaya Malakar both covered this song on the first and sixth season of American Idol, respectively. Both received negative reviews but were both announced safe the next day.
  • Thundermug, a Canadian band, released the song in 1972, as the debut single from their first album.
  • The Moments recorded a single with singer Steve Marriott (Small Faces, Humble pie) in the mid 1960s.[21]

Van Halen version[edit][]

This section needs additional citations for verification. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. (July 2010)
"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,[22] 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.[23] The Van Halen version was the soundtrack of the celebrated,[24] award-winning[25] 1996 Nissan commercial Toys in which "Nick", driving a toy Nissan 300ZX, entices "Roxanne" out on a date, to "Tad"'s dismay.[26] Mattel sued,[27] but settled.[28] It was also used by Nissan for its Japanese commercials.[29] 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".[30] Ray Davies, on the other hand, liked it.[citation needed]

Use in popular culture[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.


The Kinks version[edit][]

Chart (1964-1965) Peak


Canadian RPM Top Singles[31] 4
France (SNEP)[32] 16
Germany (Media Control Charts)[33] 39
Irish Singles Chart[34] 6
Italy (FIMI)[35] 28
UK (Official Charts Company)[3] 1
US Billboard Hot 100[4] 7

Van Halen version[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)
9 October 2006 (one week)

Succeeded by

"SexyBack" by Justin Timberlake