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On this day in 1964, The Kinks released its iconic single “You Really Got Me” in the U.K. (It was released a month later in the U.S.)

The song was the group’s third single and became their breakthrough hit; climbing to number one on the U.K. charts and establishing them as one of the prominent British Invasion acts. The song has also been covered by American rock band Van Halen in 1978, where it peaked at 36 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Though regular Kinks drummer Mick Avory plays the song live, it was session man Bobby Graham on the recorded track. (Graham also drummed on “All Day And All Of The Night.”)

“You Really Got Me” also features group members Ray Davies (vocals and rhythm guitar), Dave Davies (lead guitar), Pete Quaife (bass) Arthur Greenslade (piano), and Avory on the tambourine.

The distorted guitar and explosive drums are part of the reason the song has been touted as the harbinger of heavy metal, punk, and hard rock.


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According to Ray Davies’ autobiography, X‑Ray, there were two takes of the song, and on the second, “When Dave played the opening chords, Bobby Graham forgot the complicated introduction he had planned and just thumped one beat on the snare drum with as much power as he could muster, as if to say, ‘OK, wimp, take that!’”

Here’s the official track audio.

Here’s the Van Halen version, with Alex Van Halen on drums.

For more Kinks, including Avory’s legendary onstage fights with Dave Davies, see below.

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