The Knack

The Knack was an American rock band based in Los Angeles that rose to fame with their first single, "My Sharona", an international number-one hit in 1979.

The Knack
The Knack press photo
The Knack in 1979. From left to right: Gary, Fieger, Niles, Averre
Background information
OriginLos Angeles, California, U.S.
Genres
Years active
  • 1978–1982
  • 1986–1992
  • 1994
  • 1996–2010
Labels
Past members

History

Founding (1977–1978)

Singer Doug Fieger was a native of Oak Park, Michigan, a northern suburb of Detroit, Michigan, and grew up in the 9 Mile/Coolidge area. The brother of attorney Geoffrey Fieger (later known for representing Jack Kevorkian in a series of assisted suicide cases) Fieger had previously played in an eclectic rock band called Sky as well as the Sunset Bombers. Although Sky had received a modest amount of acclaim, including being produced by Rolling Stones producer Jimmy Miller, the band broke up without having any chart success. As a result, Fieger made the decision to move to Los Angeles and start another band.

Shortly after arriving in L.A., Fieger met Berton Averre (lead guitar, backing vocals and keyboards), and the two started a songwriting partnership. Fieger had also known Bruce Gary (drums) for years before forming the Knack in 1978 with Prescott Niles (bass). Niles was the last to join, a week before the band's first show in June 1978.[5] In the meantime, Fieger had been doubling on bass on a series of demos that the group had shopped to several record labels, all of which were rejected. Some of these songs later made up the band's debut album Get the Knack, and included "Good Girls Don't".

Get the Knack

Within months of their live debut, popular club gigs on the Sunset Strip, as well as guest jams with musicians such as Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty and Ray Manzarek, led to the band being the subject of a record label bidding war. The band was pursued by ten record labels, but decided on going with Capitol Records. A&R executives Bruce Garfield and Bruce Ravid are credited with signing the band.

The band's debut album, Get the Knack, was one of the year's best-selling albums, holding the number one spot on Billboard magazine's album chart for five consecutive weeks and selling two million copies in the United States. The lead single, "My Sharona", was a No. 1 hit in the US, and became the number-one song of 1979. Follow-up single "Good Girls Don't" peaked at No. 11 in the US, and reached No. 1 in Canada.

However, the band's rise to the top of the charts also precipitated a backlash. Capitol's packaging of Get the Knack included a perceived cover likeness to Meet the Beatles![1] with the record's center label being the same design and style as the Beatles' early 1960s LPs. Coupled with the band's "retro" 1960s look and pop/rock sound, the company's stylings led detractors to accuse them of being Beatles rip-offs,[1] which the band and their record company denied. Nonetheless, this perception, and the perception that the object of some of the Knack's songs were teenaged girls, (subsequently acknowledged when the band were years older), quickly led to a "Knuke the Knack" campaign led by San Francisco artist Hugh Brown.[6]

The follow-up albums (1980–1981)

The Knack quickly recorded a follow-up album ...But the Little Girls Understand, which was released in early 1980. Though the album went gold in the US and Japan, and platinum in Canada,[5] it didn't meet with the same level of commercial success as their debut. Fieger claimed in later interviews that all of the tracks for Get the Knack and ...But the Little Girls Understand were written before the first LP was recorded and were intended to be put out as a double album. Additionally, the lead single "Baby Talks Dirty" only briefly made the US Top 40, stalling at No. 38 (but reaching No. 13 in Canada); follow-up single "Can't Put a Price on Love" missed the top 40 altogether, peaking at No. 62.

After nearly a year of relentless touring in the US, Canada, Europe, New Zealand, Australia, and Japan, starting in April 1980 the band took a year off because of exhaustion and "internal dissent".[5] They reconvened in the summer of 1981 to record their third album, Round Trip. However, the record (which came out in October 1981) was a serious commercial disappointment, only reaching No. 93 on the US charts, selling 150,000 copies. As well, lead single "Pay the Devil (Ooo, Baby, Ooo)" topped out at a mere No. 67 on the Billboard Hot 100. The group made several concert appearances during 1981 to promote Round Trip. Keyboardist Phil Jost was brought into the lineup at this time to enable the band to duplicate the more heavily layered sound of their new release.

With the Knack experiencing rapidly diminishing chart success, and mounting critical backlash against them[7] Fieger left amidst internal squabbles on December 31, 1981, just months after the release of Round Trip. The band rehearsed briefly with Michael Des Barres as their new frontman in early 1982, but this line-up never gigged or recorded. By mid-1982, the Knack had split up while Fieger formed a new band, "Doug Fieger's Taking Chances".

Return of the Knack and final album (1986–2010)

The Knack reunited in November 1986, to play a benefit for Michele Myers, who had been the first person to book the band for a show in 1978.[5] Prescott Niles marriage, to writer Kim Amadril, December 20, 1986. The band united once again. They continued to play club gigs for the next several years. In July 1989, Billy Ward replaced Bruce Gary as the band's drummer (after a brief interim by Pat Torpey of Mr. Big).[5] In 1990, the Knack signed with Charisma Records and recorded the album Serious Fun which was released in February 1991.[5] Lead single "Rocket O' Love" was a top 10 hit on US AOR stations (and a top 30 hit in Canada). To promote the song, they released a music video loaded with visual innuendo thematic to the song. Charisma collapsed after the death of the label's founder, Tony Stratton-Smith, and the group broke up again in 1992.

In 1994, with Ward back on drums, the band reunited to make some concert appearances to capitalize on "My Sharona"'s new popularity after its appearance in the movie Reality Bites. During that time, they appeared on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and performed "My Sharona" for the first time ever on network television.

In 1996, all four original band members, including Bruce Gary, reunited in the studio one last time to record a track for a multi-artist compilation album, saluting the British band Badfinger (where the band covered Badfinger's hit "No Matter What"[8]).

The Knack continued as a touring and recording act through the late 1990s and into the 2000s. Duane Leinan joined The Knack in the studio and on the road, playing bass guitar from 2008 to 2010. Terry Bozzio replaced Ward as drummer for 1998's Zoom, and David Henderson (as "Holmes Jones") took over on drums for 2001's Normal as the Next Guy and Live at the Rock N Roll Funhouse albums. Pat Torpey then returned to take over for Henderson and played with the group until Fieger's death in 2010.

In 2005, the Knack made an appearance on the TV program Hit Me, Baby, One More Time, performing "My Sharona" and Jet's "Are You Gonna Be My Girl".

In 2006, Doug Fieger and Berton Averre filed a lawsuit against the rap music group Run–D.M.C. for copyright infringement. The lawsuit alleges that the defining guitar riff from "My Sharona" was used without permission in the Run-D.M.C. track "It's Tricky" from their 1986 album Raising Hell.[9]

In 2006, during a performance in Las Vegas, Fieger became disoriented, developing a dull headache, and grasping for the words to the songs that he had written and performed for years.[10] Diagnosed with two brain tumors, Fieger underwent surgery and radiosurgery and returned to performing. However, he still continued to battle brain and lung cancer until his death on February 14, 2010, in Woodland Hills, California, at the age of 57.

Outside the Knack

In the interim between the Knack's break-up and 1986 reunion, Doug Fieger worked as a guest vocalist on a few tracks by Was (Not Was). (Fieger had grown up with band member Don Was; Was later produced the Knack's album Serious Fun.[5]) Fieger also recorded a solo album in 2000, and appeared as a solo artist in the Countdown Spectacular 2 concert series in Australia between late-August and early-September 2007. He sang the Knack favorite "My Sharona" only. Averre, Niles and Gary briefly continued with former Roadmaster vocalist Stephen 'Mac' McNally as "The Game" after the Knack's initial break up.

Bruce Gary became a producer (archive recordings of Jimi Hendrix and new recordings of The Ventures) and a sideman performing live and on studio sessions with artists such as Jack Bruce, Mick Taylor, Bob Dylan, George Harrison, Cherie Currie, Robby Krieger, Spencer Davis, Stephen Stills, Rod Stewart, Emmett Chapman, and Sheryl Crow. Gary died from lymphoma on August 22, 2006 at the age of 55.

Discography

Studio albums
Live albums
  • 1979: The Knack Live at Carnegie Hall (Laserdisc)
  • 2001: Live from the Rock n Roll Funhouse (CD, DVD)
  • 2007: World Cafe Live: The Knack in Concert (DVD)
  • 2012: Havin' a Rave-Up! Live in Los Angeles, 1978 (CD)
Compilation albums
  • 1992: Retrospective
  • 1995: My Sharona
  • 1998: Proof: The Very Best of the Knack
  • 1999: The Best of the Knack: Ten Best Series
Documentary DVD
  • 2004: Getting the Knack
Singles[11][13][15][16][17][18][19][20][21]
Year Title US CAN AUS CH DE AT NL BE NZ UK Certs Album
Hot 100 Rock
1979 "My Sharona" 1 x 1 1 7 12 13 13 12 3 6 US: Gold
CAN: Platinum
Get The Knack
"Good Girls Don't" 11 x 1 20 66 CAN: Gold
1980 "Baby Talks Dirty" 38 x 13 40 ...But the Little Girls Understand
"Can't Put a Price on Love" 62
1981 "Pay the Devil (Ooo, Baby, Ooo)" 67 Round Trip
"Boys Go Crazy"
1991 "Rocket O' Love" 9 30 Serious Fun
1994 "My Sharona" (recharted) 91 Reality Bites
2004 "My Sharona" (re-recorded) My Sharona / Good Girls Don't
"x" denotes the chart did not exist, "—" denotes the release did not chart

References

  1. ^ a b c d Robbins, Ira; Sandlin, Michael. "Knack". Trouser Press. Retrieved July 18, 2011.
  2. ^ Borack, John M. (2007). Shake Some Action: The Ultimate Power Pop Guide. Not Lame Recordings. p. 27. ISBN 0-9797714-0-4.
  3. ^ "Pop/Rock » Punk/New Wave » Power Pop". AllMusic. All Media Network. Retrieved August 14, 2014.
  4. ^ "Knack Rides Charts With $18,000 Album". Billboard. 91 (31): 62. August 4, 1979. ISSN 0006-2510.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g Fieger, Doug (1992). Liner notes to Retrospective (Media notes). Capitol Records.
  6. ^ Hilburn, Robert (July 29, 1979). "A Knack on the Door for L.A. Rock". Los Angeles Times. p. L1.
  7. ^ "The Knack: Biography". Archived from the original on July 7, 2009.. Rolling Stone.
  8. ^ Rabid, Jack. "Various Artists – Come and Get It: A Tribute to Badfinger". AllMusic. All Media Network. Retrieved February 20, 2010.
  9. ^ "Run DMC Sued By The Knack". Archived from the original on September 30, 2007.. MusicRooms.com. 2006.
  10. ^ "Radiosurgery Allows Doug Fieger Of The Knack To Perform While Battling Brain Tumors". Medical News Today. May 16, 2007. Retrieved May 16, 2007.
  11. ^ a b "Knack". Official Charts Company. Retrieved April 24, 2012.
  12. ^ "Top Singles – Volume 31, No. 24, September 08 1979". RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved October 12, 2012.
  13. ^ a b "Gold/Platinum". Music Canada. Retrieved August 14, 2014.
  14. ^ "Top Singles – Volume 33, No. 3, April 12 1980". RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved October 12, 2012.
  15. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 305. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
  16. ^ "Top Singles – Volume 31, No. 24, September 08 1979". RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved February 17, 2012.
  17. ^ "Top Singles – Volume 32, No. 7, November 10 1979". RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved June 17, 2012.
  18. ^ "Top Singles – Volume 33, No. 2, April 05 1980". RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved June 17, 2012.
  19. ^ "Top Singles – Volume 53, No. 16, March 23 1991". RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved June 17, 2012.
  20. ^ "My Sharona / Good Girls Don't (Re-Recorded) – Single". iTunes. Apple Inc. Retrieved May 11, 2015.
  21. ^ "Mainstream Rock Songs". Billboard. February 23, 1991.

External links

1965 Cannes Film Festival

The 18th Cannes Film Festival was held from 3 to 16 May 1965. Olivia de Havilland became the first woman president of the jury.The Grand Prix du Festival International du Film went to The Knack …and How to Get It by Richard Lester. The festival opened with The Collector, directed by William Wyler and closed with Tōkyō Orinpikku, directed by Kon Ichikawa.

Cool for Cats (album)

Cool for Cats is the British new wave group Squeeze's second album, released in 1979. Cool for Cats contains four UK hit singles, more than any other album the band has issued. The album peaked at number 45 in the UK Albums Chart, spending 11 weeks in that listing.Its 1997 CD release, as part of the Six of One... box set contained two bonus tracks. This collection included the band's first six studio albums, each digitally remastered. In 1998 the six CDs were released individually.

Dilbert (TV series)

Dilbert is an adult animated television series adaptation of the comic strip of the same name, produced by Adelaide Productions, Idbox and United Media, and distributed by Columbia TriStar Television. The first episode was broadcast on January 25, 1999, and was UPN's highest-rated comedy series premiere at that point in the network's history; it lasted two seasons with thirty episodes on UPN and won a Primetime Emmy before its cancellation.

Doug Fieger

Douglas Lars "Doug" Fieger (August 20, 1952 – February 14, 2010) was an American singer–songwriter–musician. He was the rhythm guitarist and lead vocalist of the rock band The Knack. He co-wrote "My Sharona", the biggest hit song of 1979 in the U.S., with lead guitarist Berton Averre.

Get the Knack

Get the Knack is the debut album by the Knack, released in June 1979. At the time, the album was one of the most successful debuts in history, selling over one million copies in less than two months and spending five weeks at number one on the Billboard 200 album chart. The lead single from the album, "My Sharona", was number one on the Billboard Hot 100 for six weeks and number one on Billboard's Top Pop Singles of 1979 year end chart. The follow-up single, "Good Girls Don't," followed "My Sharona" to #1 on the Canadian Singles Chart, and reached #11 in the U.S.

Good Girls Don't (song)

"Good Girls Don't" is a 1979 hit single written by Doug Fieger and released by the rock band The Knack, off their album Get the Knack. It was the follow-up to the group's number-one hit single, "My Sharona". "Good Girls Don't" was a No. 1 single in Canada. It reached No. 11 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and No. 66 on the British charts. It also reached No. 20 in New Zealand. The song has since been covered by a number of artists, including The Chipmunks, Ben Folds, The Chubbies, and The McRackins.

Heartbeat (Buddy Holly song)

"Heartbeat" is a rockabilly song credited to Bob Montgomery and Norman Petty and originally recorded by Buddy Holly in 1958. The B-side of the single was "Well... All Right" (Buddy Holly, Norman Petty, Jerry Allison, Joe Mauldin).

It's Tricky

"It's Tricky" is the fourth and final single released from Run–D.M.C.'s third album, Raising Hell. It was released early in 1987 through Profile Records and was co-produced by Rick Rubin and the group themselves. The song peaked at No. 57 on the Billboard Hot 100 and No. 21 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs. In the UK, the song made #16 on the UK Singles Chart upon its original release and #74 in 1998, while the Jason Nevins remix of their song "It's Like That" spent its fifth week at #1. Two decades after the song's release, The Knack sued Run-D.M.C. on the grounds "It's Tricky" sampled their song "My Sharona" without permission.

The song is used in the promotional clip for the FX television series Snowfall, which began airing in July 2017. The original song appeared in the movies Road Trip and The Bounty Hunter and in the video games SSX Tricky, WWE 2K16 and Forza Horizon 3.

Mike Chapman

Michael Donald "Mike" Chapman (born 13 April 1947) is an Australian record producer and songwriter who was a major force in the British pop music industry in the 1970s. He created a string of hit singles for artists including The Sweet, Suzi Quatro, Smokie, Mud and Racey with business partner Nicky Chinn, creating a formularised sound that became identified with the "Chinnichap" brand. He later produced breakthrough albums for Blondie and The Knack. Chapman received a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) in the 2014 Australia Day Honours.

My Sharona

"My Sharona" is the debut single by the Knack. The song was written by Berton Averre and Doug Fieger, and released in 1979 from their album Get the Knack. It reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart where it remained for 6 weeks, and was number one on Billboard's 1979 Top Pop Singles year-end chart.

It was certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America, representing one million copies sold, and was Capitol Records' fastest gold status debut single since the Beatles' "I Want to Hold Your Hand" in 1964.

Pat Torpey

Pat Torpey (December 13, 1953 – February 7, 2018) was an American hard rock drummer and singer. Torpey was known as the drummer and backing vocalist for the band Mr. Big. He also played with John Parr, Belinda Carlisle, Robert Plant, Montrose, Richie Kotzen and The Knack. Torpey has recorded with Impellitteri and Ted Nugent.

Power pop

Power pop (also typeset as powerpop) is a form of pop rock based on the early music of bands such as the Who, the Beatles, the Beach Boys, and the Byrds. It originated in the late 1960s as young music fans began to rebel against the emerging pretensions of rock music, and developed mainly among American musicians who came of age during the British Invasion. The genre typically incorporates melodic hooks, vocal harmonies, an energetic performance, and "happy"-sounding music underpinned by a sense of yearning, longing, or despair.

The term "power pop" was coined by the Who's Pete Townshend in 1967 to describe their style of music. However, the term became more widely identified with subsequent artists from the 1970s who sought to revive Beatles-style pop. The sound of the genre became more established thanks to early 1970s hits by Badfinger, the Raspberries, and Todd Rundgren. Following the rise of new wave and punk, power pop reached its commercial peak with Cheap Trick, the Knack, the Romantics, Nick Lowe, Dave Edmunds, and Dwight Twilley. At the same time, music critics who wrote about the phenomenon popularized the term's usage and sometimes characterized the music as a more commercial counterpart of punk.

After a popular and critical backlash to the genre's biggest-ever hit, "My Sharona" (The Knack, 1979), record companies generally stopped signing power pop groups, and most of its bands broke up in the early 1980s. Over the next two decades, power pop continued with modest commercial success. The 1990s saw a new wave of bands that were drawn to 1960s artists because of the 1980s music they influenced. Although not as successful as their predecessors, Jellyfish, the Posies, Redd Kross, Teenage Fanclub, and Material Issue were critical and cult favorites.

Prescott Niles

Prescott Niles (born May 2, 1954) is an American rock bassist. He is best known as bassist with The Knack, who had a No. 1 US / No. 6 UK hit with "My Sharona".

Since 2013 he has played bass with Mike Pinera's Classic Rock All-Stars and Missing Persons.

Rita Tushingham

Rita Tushingham (born 14 March 1942) is an English actress. She is known for her starring roles in films including A Taste of Honey (1961), The Leather Boys (1964), The Knack …and How to Get It (1965), Doctor Zhivago (1965), and Smashing Time (1967). For A Taste of Honey, she won the Cannes Film Festival Award for Best Actress, and Most Promising Newcomer at both the BAFTA Awards and Golden Globe Awards. Her other film appearances include An Awfully Big Adventure (1995), Under the Skin (1997), and Being Julia (2004).

Round Trip (The Knack album)

Round Trip is the third studio album by power pop/new wave band The Knack that was released by Capitol Records in 1981. It received generally unfavorable critical reviews, but it reached #93 in the Billboard 200 and also contained single "Pay The Devil (Ooo, Baby, Ooo)" (hitting #67 on the Billboard Hot 100). "Boys Go Crazy" was issued as the single from the album in Australia. It was also issued as a follow up single to "Pay the Devil" in the U.S. and was expected to be "chart bound" on the Hot 100, but it did not chart. The band broke up a few months after its release, with their label dropping them due to failed expectations. They remained disbanded until a 1986 reunion.

Serious Fun (The Knack album)

Serious Fun is an album by power pop/new wave band The Knack released by Charisma Records on January 16, 1991. It was their fourth record; a comeback after a decade long separation. It was accompanied by a public reunion and tour. Although the album did not achieve either commercial or critical success, it resulted in the hit single "Rocket O' Love," which reached #9 in Billboard's Mainstream Rock Chart.

Terry Bozzio

Terry John Bozzio (born December 27, 1950) is an American drummer best known for his work with Missing Persons and Frank Zappa.He has been featured on nine solo or collaborative albums, 26 albums with Zappa, and seven albums with Missing Persons. He has been a prolific sideman, playing on numerous releases by other artists since the mid-1970s. He was inducted into the Modern Drummer Hall of Fame in 1997. His son and stepdaughter are also drummers; the latter, Marina, being a member of the band Aldious.

The Hard Way (The Kinks song)

"The Hard Way" is a song written by Ray Davies and first released by The Kinks on their 1975 album Schoolboys in Disgrace. It was also released on The Kinks live album One for the Road and on several greatest hits collections. The Knack covered the song on their 1980 album ...But the Little Girls Understand.

The Knack ...and How to Get It

The Knack …and How to Get It is a 1965 British comedy film directed by Richard Lester and based on the play by Ann Jellicoe. It won the Palme d'Or at the 1965 Cannes Film Festival and the Grand Prix of the Belgian Film Critics Association. It was also in competition for the Golden Bear at the 15th Berlin International Film Festival.

The Knack
Studio albums
Singles
Other songs
Billboard Year-End number one singles (1960–1979)

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