5 Famous Artists Who Were Influenced by The Kinks, Including Ozzy Osbourne, The Who, & Van Halen

The Kinks’ influence on rock music is hard to deny. The British invasion band inspired countless hard-rock, heavy metal and punk artists with some of their aggressive and loud early hits. In addition, frontman Ray Davies’ insightful, poignant, and observational lyrics and melodic sensibilities were embraced by singer/songwriters and bands that wanted to create songs with depth and nuance.

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On Thursday, March 7, The Kinks posted a comment by Ozzy Osbourne in which he discussed his early love of the band. Here’s a look at what the Metal Madman had to say, as well as a look at four other well-known music stars who have been influenced by The Kinks.

[RELATED: Ray Davies Says He Has “About 20” Songs for a Possible Kinks Reunion Project]

Black Sabbath and Ozzy Osbourne

“We were very influenced by The Who, [Led] Zeppelin, Kinks,” the founding Black Sabbath frontman told Jack Black in a 2023 interview for Metal Hammer. “F—ing hell, when I heard The Kinks’ ‘You Really Got Me,’ I bought the single and played it to f—ing death. I couldn’t stop listening to it. I don’t get that anymore with music that I hear.”

The Who

The Kinks’ influence on The Who is apparent to anyone familiar with such early singles by the latter band as “I Can’t Explain,” “Substitute,” and “Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere.” Who guitarist and main songwriter Pete Townshend also found inspiration in Ray Davies’ writing to pen quirky tunes like “I’m a Boy” and “Tattoo.”

“I always think that Ray Davies should … one day be Poet Laureate,” Townshend said in a 1995 interview with Time. “You know, he invented a new kind of poetry. A new kind of language for Pop writing, which I think, influenced me from the very, very beginning. [It was] very strange that I should be so directly influenced because it was from sideways. We were moving forward together. But I was very influenced by him.”

Townshend also said that Kinks lead guitarist Dave Davies was a “very underestimated” musician.

Van Halen

Van Halen played a number of Kinks covers during their early years on the Los Angeles club circuit. The band wound up recording two Kinks songs that were released on their studio albums.

The first was a cover of “You Really Got Me” that became Van Halen’s first hit. The song, which appeared on the group’s 1978 self-titled debut album, peaked at No. 36 on the Billboard Hot 100.
The second was a version of the 1965 Kinks song “Where Have All the Good Times Gone!” that was released as the lead track to Van Halen’s 1982 studio effort, Diver Down. The song became a radio hit that reached No. 17 on Billboard’s Mainstream Rock tally.

According to SongFacts, Ray Davies once said he liked Van Halen’s version of “You Really Got Me” better than the Kinks original, comparing his own band’s rendition to a propeller plane while likening Van Halen’s to a jet fighter. Eddie Van Halen was flattered by Davies’ praise, but he said he preferred the original. “Ray, that prop stuff is the real s—,” he told Davies.

The Jam

The Jam led the mod revival in the U.K. during the late 1970s, and were hugely influenced by The Who and The Kinks. In 1978, The Jam covered the 1967 Kinks tune “David Watts” and scored a Top 30 U.K. hit with the song.

“When I think of pop music, I think of people like The Kinks,” ex-Jam frontman Paul Weller said in a 2015 interview with The Guardian. “People making very popular music, but are still pushing the boundaries. … Their tunes are very popular, but have an experimental side to them as well.”

Weller also discussed his appreciation of Ray Davies in a 2015 interview with The Quietus.

“What a writer, I can’t say how much influence [Davies] has had on me,” Weller said. “The artistry of condensing all those ideas into a little three-minute song is just fantastic. I’m always still knocked out by that.”

The Pretenders’ Chrissie Hynde

Pretenders frontwoman Chrissie Hynde’s love of The Kinks is no secret. Her band’s debut single was a cover of the 1964 Kinks song “Stop Your Sobbing” that became a Top 40 U.K. hit. The Pretenders had an even bigger U.K. hit with their 1981 rendition of the 1965 Kinks tune “I Go to Sleep,” which peaked at No. 7.

Hynde proceeded to get involved romantically with Ray Davies during the early 1980s, and in 1983 she gave birth to the couple’s daughter, Natalie Rae Hynde. However, Hynde and Davies split up not long after Natalie was born.

While their breakup was a bitter one, it didn’t dampen Hynde’s respect for Davies’ talents as a composer. She said during one later interview (according to LouderSound.com) that he was “a million times better songwriter than I am.”

Photo by David Redfern/Redferns

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