The year is 1979. Disco is the predominant music blasting out of radios all over the globe. It is also the summer of the (in)famous Disco Demolition Night, where an anti-disco riot broke out during a baseball game between the Detroit Tigers and the Chicago White Sox. It is time for a classic Rock’n Roll band to calm down the raised tempers. Here comes “The Knack” filling up this vacuum with their powerful and flawless debut single “My Sharona”.
I love this guitar solo. Each time I hear it I pick up my guitar to ultimately find out I’ll never be able to play that fast. But I also every time ask myself; who the f*ck is Sharona? It is told that one day the lead singer Doug Fieger went into a clothing store where he met a high school student named Sharona Alperin. After inviting her to a show he and the guitarist Berton Averre wrote “My Sharona” which turned out to be the best-selling single of 1979 in the US. They fell in love and ultimately were together for about four years before Fieger’s Rock and Roll lifestyle and alcoholism became too much for Sharona. Apparently she wanted to become her own Sharona, not someone else’s. If you wondered how Sharona looks like, this is her on the cover of the single where she is holding the “Get The Knack” album. She posed for the art even though she and Doug Fieger weren’t yet dating.
Due to the hit single “My Sahrona” (Frontman Doug Fieger once claimed that it took him only 15 minutes to write it) the album became a great success. With over a million copies sold, the album turned platinum straightaway and topped the US charts for six weeks. A year later they launched their second album “But the Little Girls Understand”, which peaked at # 15 in U.S. and the third album, “Round Trip” (1981), which only reached # 93 in the U.S., leading to internal conflicts and the breakup in late 1981. Five years later they got back together, but any momentum they had, was unfortunately long gone. In August 2006 the original drummer Bruce Gary died because of Hodgkin lymphoma at 55 years of age. That same year, at a show in Las Vegas, Doug Fieger lost his sense of direction suffering a headache and trying to remember his lyrics. Shortly afterwards he was diagnosed with two brain tumors. In 2007 he is diagnosed with lung cancer, which lead to extensive chemotherapy and the removal of half of his lung. After a long battle with cancer, Doug Fieger died in February 2010 in Woodland Hills, California. He was 57.
Sharona Alperin became a high-end real estate agent in California, specializing in celebrity clientele. After the passing of Fieger, Alperin wrote on her website: “From the time Doug and I first met, both of our lives changed forever. It’s very rare for two people to have such an impact on each other. The bond we shared is something that I will treasure as long as I live, he will always have a special place in my heart.”
Everything looked so promising, both for this up-and-coming band and for the future of Rock’n Roll. But as it very often happens with one-hit wonders, their greatest hit is also their greatest downfall, because they very often fail to live up to the sensation that once was. From time to time it would be quite nice to experience another “The Knack”-sensation breaking the habit of popular music and showing the world that good old rock music still is able to top the Charts. Even though they never managed to live up to their success after 1979, I think they can be proud of what they were able to achieve. A shimmer of hope for Rock’n Roll.