On This Day in 1964, You Really Got Me was released as the band’s third single in the UK – backed with It’s Alright.
Within three days of the single’s release, You Really Got Me began to appear on local charts. Eventually, the song climbed to the top of the British charts, the band’s first single to do so.
During the spring of 1964, Ray played an early version of You Really Got Me to rock photographer Allan Ballard on a piano during a photo shoot. Ballard later remembered, “It was quite a small, pokey, Victorian Terrace, a bit scruffy, and in the hallway they had an upright piano. Ray sat down and plonked out, ‘Der-der, der, Der-der!’ He said, ‘What do you reckon to this?’ It meant nothing to me at the time, but it ended up as You Really Got Me.
Ray, later played the chords to Dave, the Kinks’ lead guitarist. Initially, Ray planned the song to be a “more laid-back number” but after hearing the track, Dave decided that the riff would be much more powerful on a guitar.
Ray said of the track’s change to a guitar-centred track, “I wanted it to be a jazz-type tune, because that’s what I liked at the time. It’s written originally around a sax line … Dave ended up playing the sax line in fuzz guitar and it took the song a step further.”