Was Heavy Rock Born 50 Years Ago This Week?

On August 4, 1964, a rather remarkable recording was released in the UK.  The Kinks’ third single, “You Really Got Me” appeared in stores and began a slow climb up the British charts until it hit number one about a month later. No one had heard anything quite like it.

It was riffy, fuzzy, screamy, dirty and full of a sort of energy not really heard before.  It might be the first true example of the use of power chords in rock’n’roll–it came out almost a year before the Stones’ “Satisfaction”–making it a Patient Zero candidate for all the heavy rock that followed.

Here are some facts about the song:

Let’s get this straight off the top:  future Led Zeppeliner Jimmy Page did NOT play on the song.  That myth needs to be put down.  The solo was in fact performed by Dave Davies.

  • Speaking of that solo, listen carefully to the seconds just before it begins and you’ll hear Ray Davies tell his brother to “fuck off.”  It was later obscured by him saying “Oh, no” when he did the vocals.  But it’s there.
  • The song was performed in a variety of styles before the band committed it to take at IBC studios in London in July 1964.
  • Yes, it was inspired by the band running through the Kingsmen’s “Louie Louie.”
  • Since fuzz and distortion pedals were still rare at the time, the only way the band could achieve this guitar sound was with a razor blade and a pin. Dave sliced up the speaker cone of his Elpico amplifier (nicknamed “little green”) to get this sound.  It was also connected to a Vox AC-30 ampl.
  • Mike Avory, the Kinks regular drummer, plays tambourine on the track.  The drums are played by a session man named Bobby Graham.



Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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