THE KNACK | ROTOSOUND

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THE KNACK

The Knack was an American New Wave rock quartet based in Los Angeles that rose to fame with their first single, “My Sharona”, an international number one hit in 1979.

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, best known for representing Dr. 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.

Fieger met the three other original members of the Knack in 1977 and 1978: Berton Averre (lead guitar, backing vocals and keyboards), Prescott Niles (bass), and Bruce Gary (drums).

Niles was the last to join, a week before the band’s first show in June 1978.

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. Ironically, some of these songs later made up the band’s debut album Get the Knack, and included “Good Girls Don’t”.

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. (Bruce Gary was well known in the LA session scene; this became a source for later tensions.)

They ultimately signed to Capitol Records.

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 #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, 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, 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.

Furthermore, when the band’s management told Fieger to avoid giving interviews, the band was perceived as being arrogant and snobbish, as well as being unable to address the negative criticism against them.

Official website www.theknack.com

Prescot Niles
Prescott uses
RS66LD Swing Bass

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