A boy falls in love with a girl and dedicates a song to her. The history of music, and rock in particular, is made up of many stories like this. But that that boy grants the cover of the first single of his band to that girl and, even more, that the history of the band itself is forever tied to that love story, well, there things become very particular. Almost unique.
Now, let’s put proper names to know who we are talking about. In the late 1970s, Doug Fieger – the boy – saw Sharona Alperin – the girl – in one of Los Angeles, the city where they both lived, and fell in love on the spot. Immediately, she got to work with her fellow members of The Knack – the band – on a song for her, “his” Sharona. At this point it is more than obvious what we are talking about: yes, “My Sharona”.
If, as Fito Páez said, the world fits in a song, in the case of The Knack it is worth saying that a band fits in a song. “My Sharona”, which still plays on the radio today, is part of Get The Knack, the debut album by the Los Angeles band released on June 11, 1979, a “one hit wonder” that devoured his own band like few times. it happened in the music industry.
Formed in the always explosive scene of the West Coast, The Knack replicated, in the second half of the 70s, the spicy rock of the mid-60s, that of The Beatles, yes, but especially that of The Who, The Kinks and The Hollies, both in sound and aesthetics. It could be said of The Knack that it was an extemporaneous band, a very good rock band that arrived late to a scene that was already thinking about other sounds.
Instead, he arrived too early for when his style had its revival. Twenty years later, in the early 2000s, that dirty and basic rock of The Who was reincarnated in bands like The Strokes, The Hives and The Vines, but, above all, the Australians Jet, cultists like The Knack of the sound and the Who aesthetics. By then, The Knack was no longer there.
Too verbose for post punk, too guitar-makers for new wave and excessively pop for the various metals that were cooked on the West Coast, The Knack did not fit in with any sound of its time, after the shock of the super hit, the world decided to give it back forever.
What happened to The Knack, really? Well, there are bands that are marked by the good star, and others that are not. The Knack is among those that do not. Despite being exclusive protagonists of the hot scene in California at the end of the 70s and being as good as others, it did not have the approval of the press, which always suspected that excessive hit, as if for some reason they had not sorry to hit her so much so quickly. It was neither the first nor would it be the last band to which it would happen, but with them there was suspicion. They were not genuine to them.
Against this, on the band’s official website you can still read the words of Fieger himself: “We have already had the success we dream of. But we have never made our music for that purpose. We play because this is the only pop music worth making: funny and sad, silly and smart, explosive but sweet, sarcastic but vulnerable. It’s not about being cool, but about being silly and having a great time. We didn’t make this up, but it’s what we do. “
But let’s go back to “My Sharona”, the beginning and the end of this story. The song was developed between Frieger and Berton Averre, the band’s guitarist. Although the characteristic of this hit is, without a doubt, the bass line of Prescott Niles and the battery of Bruce Gary from the start.
The song is inspired by snippets of songs from the 60s. The main melodic hook on “My Sharona,” according to Trousser Press, a 1970s music magazine that currently has a website, is “a reversal of the signature riff” from ‘Gimme Some Lovin’, a 1967 song by Spencer Davis Group. . The rhythm of tom-tom’s drums is – according to Fieger himself later – “just a rewrite” of ‘Going to a Go-Go’, a song by Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, from 1965. While the effect Stuttering vocal “muh muh muh my Sharona” is reminiscent of Roger Daltrey’s voice in Who’s “My Generation”. It could be said that all “My Sharona” is crossed by “My Generation”.
Sharona, the girl who was 17 at the time, unleashed the inspiration of Fieger, who by then was already a boy of 25. He wrote a series of songs over a two-month period, but none quite like “My Sharona.” Averre was not very convinced to use the name of the girl in the title of the song, but Fieger wanted it to be a direct expression of how he felt about her, the guitarist agreed and 15 minutes later he had the hit.
Released as a single on June 18, 1979, “My Sharona” went gold in just 13 days. The album did as well as his single, occupying the # 1 Billboard spot for five weeks until Led Zeppelin’s “In Through the Out Door” unseated him.
Knackmania lasted just a few months. By the early 1980s, when the band released their second album “… But the Little Girls Understand,” no one seemed interested in that out of tune revival that was The Knack. That, added to Fieger’s eccentricities and his descent into the hells of alcohol and drug addictions. By November 1980, The Knack had fallen apart. Although the band reunited to record “Round Trip,” their third and even more inconsequential album, The Knack gave their last performance at an Acapulco nightclub in December 1981. And that was it.
What happened to Fieger and Sharona’s love? They were dating for four years and, although they were engaged, they never married. They remained great friends until the last day of Fieger’s life. The musician passed away on February 14, 2010 from lung cancer and she was there to see him off.
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