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Music

Jimi Hendrix once picked his favourite riff by The Kinks

@SamWKemp

If Hollywood studio executives were to make a biopic of the life and career of Dave Davies, it would be 90 solid minutes of the Kinks guitarist shaking hands and sharing drinks with the biggest names in rock. Davies drank, smooched and strummed his way through the swinging 1960s, crossing paths with the biggest named in showbusiness, while also finding the time to write some of the most enduring and influential riffs of all time.

Take The Kinks‘ 1964 hit ‘You Really Got Me’ for example, a piece of solid-gold proto-punk that would later serve as the sonic blueprint for a whole generation of angry teenagers looking to do away with the excesses of mid-1970s rock n roll. Like all the best pieces of music, Davies’ riff felt at once ancient and astoundingly new, as though that scuzzy riff had the power to carve out a path into an untapped cultural landscape. As Davies recalled in an interview with Classic Rock, Jimi Hendrix recognised the era-defining potential of ‘You Really Got Me’.

Davies began by painting a picture of the guitarist’s true personality: “In real life, Jimi Hendrix was nothing like the wild guy that he portrayed on stage. He was a quiet, introverted guy, like Ray (Davies, his brother) was. He was explosive on stage. But very softly spoken off it. I’d see him from time to time at the Scotch of St James or at parties. We used to exchange the odd word to each other. But it was never like we were close.”

But after finding themselves on the same flight to Stockholm, the pair began talking freely: “I remember once sitting next to him on a plane bound for Stockholm. After a while we got talking a little and he suddenly said to me: ‘You know, that guitar riff you did on You Really Got Me was a real landmark.’ You can imagine how I felt. To be endorsed by Hendrix was really something. It was a great compliment.”

Davies was little more than a teenager at this time, but, as he later told Rolling Stone, Hendrix was incredibly kind, offering much-needed words of encouragement the young guitarist. “He said ‘You Really Got Me’ was a landmark record,” Davies remembered. “We sat next to each other on a plane going to Sweden to do some TV thing. We didn’t say much but we talked a bit about guitars. Being a young kid, I didn’t have an incredible vocabulary. So I just sort of huffed and puffed a very ordinary conversation apart from that.”

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