Remember The Knack?

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An ad for the album appeared in the June 16, 1979 issue of Record World

Reared in the Oak Park suburb of Detroit, singer, guitarist/bassist and songwriter Doug Fieger began his musical career during his high school years as the frontman of Sky, a popular local band who opened concerts for such stars as Jethro Tull, The Who, Joe Cocker, Bob Seger, The Stooges and Traffic. Signed to RCA Records, they released two albums that were produced by Jimmy Miller, known for his work with the Rolling Stones.

When Sky failed to connect, Fieger moved to Los Angeles, where he eventually formed, with Berton Averre, Prescott Niles, and Bruce Gary, the pop-rock foursome The Knack in 1978, and they quickly became a hot attraction on the Sunset Strip club scene. Joined onstage by such other artists as Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty and Ray Manzarek (Doors), the group generated a buzz that led to a major label bidding war that was won by Capitol Records.

When Fieger celebrated his birthday in 1979, his band had the #1 album and #1 single

The Knack’s 1979 debut album, Get The Knack, was produced by Mike Chapman, who had had a run of hits earlier that decade for such artists as Suzi Quatro and Nick Gilder, and had recently produced Blondie’s massive Parallel Lines album.

Get The Knack was an out-of-the-box hit, driven by the song “My Sharona,” co-written by Fieger and bandmate Averre, and named after Fieger’s girlfriend of that name. The single was released in June and shot to #1 on Aug. 11, holding the top slot for six weeks, eventually becoming the biggest single of the year and selling over a million copies.

Another single, “Good Girls Don’t,” reached #11. The album enjoyed a five-week run at #1 and sold more than two million copies.

The Knack’s almost immediate success generated one of rock music’s biggest-ever backlashes. The group’s matching suits and Capitol’s record packaging alluded to The Beatles, which did not sit well with some critics and music fans. They were also scorned as careerist musicians who were cashing in on the burgeoning new wave movement and its back to pop-rock basics ethos.

The group’s 1980 second album, …But the Little Girls Understand, was deemed a failure when it only sold half-a-million copies. A third LP in 1981, Round Trip, moved a mere 150,000 units. Fieger quit the band at the end of that year.

The Knack reunited in 1986, and enjoyed two slight resurgences: first in 1991 with a new album titled Serious Fun that yielded a Top 10 album rock radio track “Rocket O’ Love;” again in 1994 when “My Sharona” was included in the hit movie Reality Bites.

At a 2006 gig in Las Vegas, Fieger had trouble performing and was subsequently diagnosed with two brain tumors. He died on February 14, 2010 following a long battle with brain and lung cancer.

Related: Radio hits of 1979

Best Classic Bands Staff

4 Comments so far

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  1. GrandeHippie
    #1 GrandeHippie 25 August, 2018, 11:25

    Met Doug after a show in Detroit and
    struck up a conversation. Convinced him tp play our senior prom in 1970. The were paid $1500. Sky was a great Little Rock and roll band.

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  2. abba2971
    #2 abba2971 21 August, 2020, 11:27

    Serioys Fun was a very good cd, i recommend it

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  3. Dfactor
    #3 Dfactor 21 August, 2023, 00:17

    See the band at its possible apex in the famous Carnegie Hall concert –

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  4. Lorelei
    #4 Lorelei 21 August, 2023, 01:57

    Omg! I can’t believe that I never heard that Doug Fieger died, and especially like that :'( I had a chance to go see The Knack in L.A. right before they got famous, but ended up not going. I still kick myself for that. That’s so sad, and I know it’s very late but my prayers go out to his family. <3

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