The Knack

The Knack

Synopsis of Pop Music

The Knack took its cues from classic power-pop bands like the Kinks, so it made perfect sense when they scored a hit with an old-fashioned kind of rock song. Built on stuttered harmonies and slashing guitars, “My Sharona” cut through disco’s domination of the pop charts to become a massive hit in 1979, making the Knack pop superstars in the process.

Singer/guitarist Doug Fieger, guitarist Berton Averre, bassist Prescott Niles and drummer Bruce Gary were all veteran musicians who had been playing professionally for over a decade by the time they formed the Knack in 1978. United by a love of guitar-driven 60’s pop, the new group gigged all over Southern California. Soon enough, they had 13 different record labels bidding for their services. The group chose Capitol Records, American home of their heroes the Beatles, and recorded their debut album Get The Knack with Blondie producer Mike Chapman at the controls. The super-tight band got the full album recorded in 11 quick days for a cost-effective $18,000.

A few months later Get The Knack was topping the charts, as was its big hit single “My Sharona.” Built on a rumbling, stomping rhythm section and punctuated with plenty of slashing guitar leads, this song was a frantic love-ode spawned by Fieger's attraction to real high school student Sharona Alperin. The tune shot to #1 in the summer of 1979 and stayed there for six weeks. The rest of the album was full of killer power-pop tunes like “Your Number Or Your Name,” the psychedelic ballad “Maybe Tonight,” and a cover of Buddy Holly’s “Heartbeat” that featured some thunderous drumming.

By the fall of 1979, Knack-mania was in full effect. The group followed up "My Sharona" with "Good Girls Don’t," another lusty rocker whose sound paid tribute to the British Invasion. It became a Top 20 single as the Knack embarked on a sold-out world tour that was capped with raucous performance at the Forum in their hometown of Los Angeles.

Taking no rest, the Knack recorded a follow-up album, …But The Little Girls Understand. This album—recorded almost as quickly as the first—gave the band a Top 40 single with the pounding rock of “Baby Talks Dirty.” It also contained a memorable, hard-rocking cover of an obscure Kinks song, “The Hard Way.” The Knack were also nominated for two Grammy awards in 1980.

The Knack took a break for most of 1981, then reunited at the end of the year to record a third album, Round Trip. It was more polished that its predecessors, playing up their psychedelic leanings while also opening up the band’s sound to include r&b elements on songs like “Africa.” Surprisingly, the Knack decided to break up after one last tour of the U.S. Despite the split, all the group’s members stayed active in the music business and continued to work as session musicians, songwriters and producers (Fieger even acted in a episode of the hit sitcom Roseanne).

The Knack reunited for a tour in 1986, and the enthusiastic reception they received encouraged them to consider a more permanent reunion. The band released a new album, Serious Fun, in 1991 and had a radio hit with “Rocket O’Love.” The band’s glory days were revived in 1994 when “My Sharona” appeared on the soundtrack of Reality Bites, putting the song back on the pop charts. The song’s new success prompted another well-received tour.

The Knack continue to build on their new success with recording and frequent touring. Most recently, the group put out a new album, Zoom, in 1998. That same year, they released Proof, a greatest hits compilation that also featured several new songs. Meanwhile, Get The Knack’s mixture of pop songwriting and punk-ish attitude has kept that album popular more than twenty years after the fact. It wins the band new fans everyday, revealing the Knack’s ear-pleasing blend of pop and rock to be a very durable one.

Artist Release History

Mar 1979 - Get the Knack
Dec 1979 - ...But the Little Girls Understand
1981 - Round Trip
1991 - Serious Fun
1998 - Zoom
1998 - Proof

Pop Sub Categories

rock
pop

Essential Music Albums

Get The Knack (Capitol)
Proof (Rhino)

Band Members

Doug Fieger vocals, guitar
Berton Averre guitar
Prescott Niles bass
Bruce Gary drums

Other Pop Music Links