Debunking the myth that 'You Really Got Me' featured a solo by Led Zeppelin's Jimmy Page

For years now, the legend has gone that Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page, a favored sideman for Kinks producer Shel Talmy, actually played the titanic solo on “You Really Got Me” — one of the signature moments in 1960s rock. Talmy, in a new interview, is ready to set the record straight.

The Ray Davies song, built around a power chord so gritty that some credit it for the advent of both heavy metal and punk rock, went to No. 1 in the UK in late 1964 — and broke the Kinks in America, where it became their first Top 10 hit at No. 7.

“You Really Got Me,” later covered by Sly and the Family Stone, Robert Palmer and (most famously) Van Halen, would eventually earn the No. 4 spot on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 100 greatest guitar songs of all time.

Dave Davies has long been credited with creating the track’s familiar distortion by slicinghis guitar amp with a razor blade and poking it with a stick pin. But the issue of who played that solo has persisted. The late Jon Lord, original keyboardist with Deep Purple, even stoked the fires some years back when not only claimed that Page was the soloist but also that Lord himself played piano on “You Really Got Me.”

More recent Kinks reissues credit Dave Davies on guitar, as well as sessions players Bobby Graham on drums and Arthur Greenslade on piano. That’s not exactly correct, either.

Talmy, in a talk with the Led Zeppelin fan siteFinding Zoso, has cleared things up — though he says it’s not the first time.

“Jimmy Page did not play the solo on ‘You Really Got Me,’ which I’ve said about 5,000 times to people who insist that he did,” Talmy tells Corbin of Finding Zoso. “The reason I used Jimmy on the Kinks stuff is because Ray didn’t really want to play guitar and sing at the same time. In fact, Jimmy was playing rhythm guitar.”

Talmy also produced David Bowie and the Who, who got their start with a riff clearly inspired by Dave Davies on “Substitute.” Of Davies, Talmy adds: “I think he’s one of the more underrated guitarists there are. He was an extremely good guitarist. … I don’t think he ever got the credit. His inventions of the solos and stuff.”

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Here’s a look back at our recent thoughts on Jimmy Page and Led Zeppelin. Click through the titles for complete reviews …

SOMETHING ELSE! FEATURED ARTIST: LED ZEPPELIN: Led Zeppelin’s image, dating back to the band’s debauched 1970s heyday, has grown so outsized that it sometimes obscures, well, the music. After all, that was time when — as Rolling Stone’s Stephen Davis famously wrote in a late-period Zep review — you could “give an Englishman 50,000 watts, a chartered jet, a little cocaine and some groupies and he thinks he’s a god.” Sure. But what, you know, about the records? Your friends over at SomethingElseReviews.com sat down and spun a few, in an effort to reevaluate Led Zeppelin simply as a rock ‘n’ roll act — one that moved from copying their American blues heroes to toward a nimble, versatile new heavy-rocking amalgam … OK, with a whole lotta love along the way. But, still …

JIMMY PAGE, THE EDGE AND JACK WHITE – IT MIGHT GET LOUD (2008): This film, a documentary of sorts featuring Jimmy Page, The Edge, and Jack White, is a must see for the rock fan. Heck, you can even hate Led Zeppelin, U2, and the White Stripes, and still get something out of the movie. Seriously. The film provides individual histories of each guitarist, told in a non-linear fashion. Eventually, the three stars meet in a summit of sorts, with the discussions and righteous guitar playing taking place in a temporary sound state set up in a barn. The documentary portions don’t really provide much in the way of new information, but I’m sure that that wasn’t the point.

SOMETHING ELSE! FEATURED ARTIST: MORE LED ZEPPELIN!: What’s the continuing attraction, in 2012, for the long-gone Led Zeppelin? From movie trailers to “American Idol,” these long-haired, often-shirtless heavy-metal rock-gods — disbanded since the turn of the 1980s, mind you — remain front of mind. Check out the promo reel for “Battlestar Galactica: Blood And Chrome,” and there’s Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song,” remixed by Trent Reznor and featured vocals by the Yeah Yeah Yeah’s Karen O. Stop by eBay, and you’ll find a rare first-pressing vinyl edition of Led Zeppelin’s self-titled debut — which sold for approximately $1,890 recently. So, we figured, it’s high time for a revisit to this ageless musical force, highlighting both some familiar favorites and a few tasty deep cuts.

JIMMY PAGE AND THE YARDBIRDS – LITTLE GAMES (1967): Originally released in 1967, Little Games marked the end of the Yardbirds as we knew them, as a year later, the wildly inventive and influential London band was laid to rest. Lead guitarist Jimmy Page formed a new band, Led Zeppelin, while bassist Chris Dreja changed careers altogether by pursuing his love of photography, and lead singer Keith Relf and drummer Jim McCarty established Renaissance, a progressive folk rock outfit. Little Games has been reissued before, but as always, the Sundazed label has taken things a couple of steps further by resurrecting the record in mono and making it available on both vinyl and compact disc. Talk about utterly fabulous sound quality!

Something Else!

The Something Else! webzine, an accredited Google News affiliate, has been featured in The New York Times and NPR.com's A Blog Supreme, while our writers have also been published by USA Today, Jazz.com and UltimateClassicRock.com, among others. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.
  • Guitar slim

    Wikipedia article is incorrect then. It claims Jimmy Page was not on this session. Producer Shel Talmy confirms Page played rhythm guitar.

  • Jen

    what is that you say? Wikipedia is incorrect? haha
    As a collector of music I am never amazed just how wrong things are on that site. How does a myth persist if the guy (page) has claimed over and over that he didn’t play it?