The Kinks became a household name 50 years ago with the release of ‘You Really Got Me.’
We’ve all heard it before: that raw and infectious melody that’ll have anybody up and out of their chair. That’s right, The Kinks’ ‘You Really Got Me’ and it’s turning the big 5-0 this year. The catchy British rock tune has stuck around throughout the years, topping charts all over the world in the process. You may have heard the song thousands of times on the radio, albums, online, or popping up in advertisements and movies, but the way the song somewhat accidentally came to be may still surprise you.
The song came out of some added pressure put on by the band’s record label PYE after producing a couple flops. This next one had to be a hit or The Kinks may not have become the band we know today. Lucky for us then that ‘You Really Got Me’ was born out of a few mishaps.
The well-known guitar riff was created by The Kinks’ Davies siblings, but not on a guitar like you’d think. Ray Davies was messing around on the family piano when the two-note riff came out of inspiration by Jimmy Giuffre’s 1957 single ‘The Train and the River‘. Dave Davies took that sound and distorted it to rock perfection. This is where the accidental magic happens. Going through a bout of teenage angst, Dave took his anger out on his ill performing guitar amp by grabbing a razor blade and slashing the sound machine. The result? That loud raw sound that took ‘You Really Got Me’ to the top. Bingo. Davies has been quoted saying, “that’s how ‘You Really Got Me’ became the first hit record to use distortion, which so many bands have cited as the beginnings of punk and heavy metal”.