The Kinks got their first big break when they released You Really Got Me in 1964. It quickly climbed to number one in their UK homeland and gave them their first US top 10 single, establishing them as leaders of the British Invasion.
The bluesy rocker, built on power chords and octaves, would also prove massively influential in the evolution of heavy rock in the decade that followed. There’s no denying that it was the first song featuring heavily distorted guitars to climb the mainstream charts, but how did those heavily distorted guitars come about? That depends on which Davies brother you ask.
Frontman, Ray Davies recalled helping his brother Dave create the effect by “sticking knitting needles in the speakers”. Ray told NME, “In those days we played records on a radiogram so loudly that they all sounded fuzzy. We thought, 'That's a great sound,' without realizing the speakers were buggered. Everyone else was using really clean guitar sounds, so for 'You Really Got Me' we hooked a little speaker up to a clean amp and came up with thunderous, unaffected, pure power."
Talking to Rolling Stone, Dave Davies rebutted Ray’s story, saying, "I alone created the guitar sound for the song with my Elpico amp that I bought. I slashed the speaker with a razor blade, which resulted in the 'You Really Got Me' tone. There were no knitting needles used in making my guitar sound."
However it happened, it undeniably altered the course of rock music! Watch a performance years ahead of its time as The Kinks deliver a thunderous performance of ‘You Really Got Me’ live in 1965, below.
The Kinks | ‘You Really Got Me’ 
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