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Members include Berton Averre, lead guitar, vocals; Terry Bozio, drums; Doug Fieger, lead vocals, rhythm guitar; Bruce Gary (left group, 1991), drums; Prescott Niles, bass; Billy Ward (left group, 1997), drums. Addresses: Record company--Image Entertainment, 9333 Oso Ave., Chatsworth, CA 91311. Website--The Knack Official Website: http://www.knack.com.
In 1978 the Knack arrived on the Los Angeles club scene, rising to the number one spot on the charts just a year later. Their hit single "My Sharona" flooded the airwaves. The group's two subsequent albums did not reach the same level of success, however, and the Knack disbanded three weeks after the release of their third album--just three-and-a-half years after their formation. The Knack reunited a couple of times in the mid-1980s and early 1990s. In 1994, "My Sharona" had a resurgence on the charts after the song appeared on the soundtrack for Reality Bites, and the Knack were back for another chance to revive their successes.
In 1971 singer/guitarist Doug Fieger, a native of Michigan, moved to Los Angeles with the band Sky. Not long after his arrival, the group broke up, and he met guitarist Berton Averre. The two began writing music together, and in 1978, decided to form their own band. Drummer Bruce Gary and bassist Prescott Niles rounded out the lineup. They decided on their name by looking in the dictionary for words that began with "K." When they came upon the word "knack," it just seemed to fit.
After writing and rehearsing together, the Knack played their first performance on June 1, 1978, at the Whiskey-A-Go-Go in Hollywood, California. Their sound went against the grain of the popular disco music scene that prevailed at the time. But it was their refreshing rock 'n' roll sound that sparked their growing popularity and made the group a sensation in Southern California clubs. Rolling Stone published a feature on the band before they had even signed with a record label because the Knack had appeared onstage with artists including Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty, Stephen Stills, and Eddie Money. "We became the hot band in Los Angeles, and there were pretty much lines around the block whenever we played ... and the local stars would come out to see us," Fieger told Mark Copolov in a radio interview for a station in Melbourne, Australia. "We'd usually do two sets so they would see us during the first set and then they would come backstage and we would talk, and they would ask us if they could get up on stage with us for the second set."
Debut Topped the Charts
In November of 1978, less than six months after their formation, the Knack received offers for record contracts from 13 different companies. They came to an agreement with Capitol Records and quickly began work on their debut album with producer Mike Chapman, who had previously worked with Blondie. They recorded Get the Knack in just eleven days for the low cost of $18,000. The LP arrived in stores and hit the airwaves in 1979, turning the Knack into immediate rock stars. The album had attained gold sales status in 13 weeks and reached platinum status in less than seven weeks. It ended up selling more than two million copies.
"My Sharona," the first single from Get the Knack, reached number one on the Billboard charts on August 25, 1979, and stayed at the top for six weeks. Fieger wrote the lyrics of the song about a girl named Sharona Alperin, whom he had fallen in love with, and he and Averre co-wrote the music. "At the time, we wrote it to be the ending song of our set," Fieger told Copolov. "We needed a song that would end the set well.... I also wrote it about the girl that I was in love with, and I was hoping that that would impress her in some way and she might go out on a date with me, which she had refused to do up until that point." Alperin did end up going out with Fieger; they lived together for four years and got engaged, but they broke up before the wedding.
The Knack followed up the success of "My Sharona" with a second single titled "Good Girls Don't," which reached number 17 on the Billboard charts. The Knack toured in support of Get the Knack with sold-out shows all over the world. They also received two Grammy Award nominations. Rather than release a third single, they returned to the recording studio to work on their second album, ... But the Little Girls Understand, which they recorded in just two weeks. The Knack released the LP in 1980, just eight months after the release of their debut.
Broke Up after Three Albums
... But the Little Girls Understand included the singles "Baby Talks Dirty," which became a top 40 hit, and "Can't Put a Price on Love." The Knack toured through the spring of 1980, and then they took their first break since arriving on the scene. While the sales of their second album did not match that of their first, the Knack did not anticipate the rising swell of opposition against the band. Much of the media did not support the group, and the Knack had refused to do interviews in the first few years, so they had no defense against the criticism. A campaign of "Knuke the Knack" T-shirts only compounded the negativity surrounding the group. "I understand the idea in the Western world that you build up your heroes in order to tear them down," Fieger told Robert Wilonsky in the Phoenix New Times. "But I was a little surprised at the vehemence with which we were attacked. It seems to me it was all out of proportion to what it was that we were and what we attempted to do, which was to play well-crafted, well-written, well-performed, fun pop music for an audience that might like it."
The Knack returned in 1981 with their third album, Round Trip, and the single "Pay the Devil." This time, the band agreed to do interviews and scheduled a club tour that was designed to help them get back to their roots. But as quickly as they had shot up in popularity, they came crashing down. The shows and publicity didn't help boost sales or recognition, and relationships among band members began to break down. On New Year's Day 1982, just three weeks into their tour, the Knack decided to call it quits.
Fieger, Averre, Gary, and Niles each went their separate ways following the breakup. Five years later, the Knack regrouped for a tour but decided against releasing another recording. Then, in 1991, the band returned again with Billy Ward replacing Gary on drums. They released the album Serious Fun, which was produced by Don Was, and the single "Rocket of Love." However, reunion efforts did not recreate the Knack's previous success.
Resurrected "Sharona" Bred Comeback
In an unexpected turn of events, "My Sharona" returned to Billboard's Hot 100 chart in 1994 after it appeared on the soundtrack for the film Reality Bites. The Knack went out on a promotional tour in response to the resurgence and recruited a whole new generation of fans. In April of 1997, the Knack played a show at the Viper Room in Hollywood and grabbed the attention of Rhino Records president Harold Bronson. Bronson signed the Knack to a contract, and they released Zoom in 1998. Drummer Terry Bozio, who had previously played with Frank Zappa and Missing Persons, had joined the group prior to the recording. "We've already had the success you dream about," Fieger said in the band's record company biography following the release of Zoom. "But we've never played our music for that. We play it because this is the only worthwhile pop music to make--fun and sad, silly and smart, explosive but sweet, snide but vulnerable."
Refusing to give up on their music careers more than 20 years later, the Knack signed a three-CD contract in 2001 with Image Entertainment, for which they released Normal As the Next Guy. They planned to rerelease Zoom on their new label with additional tracks in 2002 under the title ReZoom. "We refuse to go away," Fieger said in the band's biography. "There are musicians who say they don't want to do this when they're 40. I've always said I hoped I was still doing this when I was 40. We love this music."
by Sonya Shelton
The Knack's Career
Formed in Los Angeles, CA, signed with Capitol Records, 1978; released Get the Knack with single "My Sharona," 1979; released two additional albums before disbanding, 1980-82; reunited for tour, 1986; regrouped with drummer Billy Ward, released Serious Fun on Charisma Records, 1991; returned for promotional tour following the appearance of "My Sharona" on Reality Bitessoundtrack, 1994; signed contract with Rhino Records, 1997; released Zoom, 1998; signed contract with Image Entertainment, released Normal As the Next Guy, 2001.
- Selected discography
- Get the Knack , Capitol, 1979.
- ... But the Little Girls Understand , Capitol, 1980.
- Round Trip , Capitol, 1981.
- Serious Fun , Charisma, 1991.
- Zoom , Rhino, 1998.
- Normal As the Next Guy , Image Entertainment, 2001.
- Boston Herald, September 2, 1998.
- Detroit Free Press, August 26, 1998.
- Detroit News, August 27, 1998.
- Ottawa Citizen, August 29, 1998.
- People, March 11, 1991, p. 16.
- Phoenix New Times, September 17, 1998.
- San Diego Union-Tribune, May 28, 1987.
- Toronto Star, August 27, 1998.
- Washington Post, March 6, 1994.
- "Doug Fieger Interview with Mark Copolov," OfficialDougFieger.com, http://www.officialdougfieger.com/dfzoom.htm (December 5, 2001).
- "Knack Bios," Rhino Records, http://www.rhinorecords.com/projects/knack/knackbios.html (December 5, 2001).
- "The Knack," RollingStone.com, http://www.rollingstone.com/artists/bio.asp?oid=907&cf=907 (December 5, 2001).
- The Knack Official Website, http://www.knack.com (December 5, 2001).
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