The Kinks were the egg and David Bowie was the chicken

Great artists steal from other great artists.

Mark and Colleen Hayward/GettyImages

We all know who David Bowie is, right? Ground-breaking artists who arguably created genres like techno and glitter rock, and paved the way for nearly every meaningful band in the early 1980s. But Bowie is so much more. He developed as his career wore on and was never the same. But one could also argue that without the Kinks, there might not be a David Bowie.

The Kinks are most likely the most English band of the 1960s. They came to be, formed by two brothers who disliked each other, at the same time as the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. While the Stones and Beatles were trying to change the world, the Kinks were trying to change their little hamlet of England.

Yet, by remaining true to themselves and their vision, disconnected at times though it may be, they remade what was conceptually possible. While the Beatles played Ed Sullivan and made pop music, the Kinks were making the song “You Really Got Me.” Listen to the Beatles now and the songs are still great, but the sound isn’t as unique. Nothing anyone else does sounds exactly like “You Really Got Me.”

Would David Bowie have existed without the genius of the Kinks?

The argument could be – should be? – made that heavy metal began when the Kinks released the song. It was louder, crisper, slightly angrier than what other bands were doing. But it also wasn’t based in the Stones’ blues or the Beatles’ pop. It seemed to be more primitive, but different a the same time.

The song, and the Kinks' ability to be uniquely different without even deliberately setting out to be that way, opened the way to Led Zeppelin's existence or, later, Van Halen. Guitarist Eddie Van Halen and his group recorded their version of “You Really Got Me” in 1978 for the debut album. The song remained basically intact from what the Kinks did, but it was clear Van Halen were using the song to help create their own sound.

Yet, the Kinks weren’t just a loud band. They wrote songs like 1966’s “Dedicated Follower of Fashion.” Davis Bowie wrote his song, “Fashion,” basically as a sequel to the Kinks. As Bowie himself said in Far Out Magazine, “When I first started going to discos in New York in the early ’70s, there was a very high-powered enthusiasm and the scene had a natural course about it. It seems now to be replaced by an insidious grim determination to be fashionable, as though it’s actually a vocation. There’s some kind of strange aura about it.”

So while people are listening to bands like Mastodon and Taylor Swift, it’s good to remember that much of the reason they exist is because of Bowie. But also, maybe there is no Bowie without the Kinks. And if there are no Kinks, how bad might music be today?

Read more from AudioPhix