Van Halen really got to Dave Davies of The Kinks with their version of “You Really Got Me.”
In a new interview with Classic Rock magazine, The Kinks’ original lead guitarist offered his thoughts on the VH version for the first time – more than 30 years after its release.
“Van Halen’s version was very Middle America. It was like, ‘Hey man, look at me with my tight trousers! Here’s our version of You Really Got Me!,” said Davies. “There’s the thing: good art isn’t always about having the comfiest technique. I shouldn’t encourage him, but I’m sure Eddie Van Halen played better when he was drunk. But it must be a good record if people like it.”
VH’s version was like a rock supernova, launching the band’s career while turning heads everywhere with previously unheard guitar sounds courtesy of Eddie.
“You Really Got Me” was The Kinks first hit, reaching #1 in the UK in September of 1964, and top 10 in the US. Although brother Ray is credited as the sole songwriter, Dave was responsible for creating the distorted power chord sound that the song is built around. Musicologists have credited the track – and especially the power chords – as the song that “invented heavy metal,” with the tune becoming a blueprint for hard rock and heavy metal.
Interesting to note that Davies has never commented on the VH version before, and his ‘sour grapes’ approach may come from the fact that Van Halen had overshadowed the British band with its release in 1978.
“We got pissed off though, when we played America,” said Davies. “The Kinks had an album out called Low Budget  and we ended up touring and playing stadiums. Some kid came up to me after one of the gigs and said: ‘I like your cover of Van Halen’s You Really Got Me.’ You have to smile sometimes.”