The classic rock song Ozzy Osbourne played on repeat: “I couldn’t stop listening to it”

When heavy metal became ingrained in everyone’s subconscious, Ozzy Osbourne was the resident frontman. He may not have been the first to claim himself as a metal godfather, but seeing him headbanging and singing about the dark side of spirituality alongside Black Sabbath gave birth to a million other bands that would soon turn into heavy metal. Osbourne never actually considered himself truly metal, though, and for him, everything traced back to the music of The Kinks.

Because before there had been any Black Sabbath, there was the British invasion. After years of hearing rock and roll from across the pond, English bands like The Beatles and The Rolling Stones were among the first to actually take the music world by storm, turning rock and roll from a niche genre into a musical institution.

Even when discussing their influence, The Kinks tend to be one notch below their contemporaries. Despite Ray Davies not writing the same hooks on the level of John Lennon and Paul McCartney, he should definitely be in the conversation of the best writers of all time, from the way he painted in England on ‘Waterloo Sunset’ to his ability to create complete characters within the span of a few minutes on ‘Lola’.

If there’s one thing the band will be remembered for when etched into rock history, it will be ‘You Really Got Me’. Ray may have wanted the song to start out as a jazzy arrangement, but once he passed it along to his guitar freak brother, Dave, the sound of hard rock was born. The amp sounded like it was trashed, and the sound was a lot more gritty than usual, but it was absolutely perfect.

While Osbourne had fancied himself a fan of The Beatles mostly, he became transfixed by what the band had done, recalling, “Fuckin’ hell, when I heard The Kinks’ ‘You Really Got Me’, I bought the single and played it to fucking death. I couldn’t stop listening to it. I don’t get that anymore with music that I hear.”

Whereas Ray had a more delicate voice than any of his contemporaries, though, Osbourne wasn’t looking to play nice for the crowd. Adopting the same blues mannerisms of his heroes, Osbourne turned the caustic sound of The Kinks into something ferocious, eventually getting into the macabre side of music once he teamed up with Tony Iommi for songs about devils chasing after his soul.

Even though The Kinks are far from the first band to be considered the first hard rock outfit, the pieces of the first hard rock song are all there in ‘You Really Got Me’. Outside of the nasty guitar tone, the message of doing the most with a fistful of chords and singing about how much sexual desire is trapped inside you is practically the blueprint for every hard rock group that came after.

That’s probably why Van Halen’s immortal cover of the track on their debut album is among one of the most celebrated pieces of music in hair metal. The band may have injected the original with steroids on their version, but when listening to both songs side by side, the original already had the spark that all good rock and roll thrives on.

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