The Knack Biography

Formed in Los Angeles, California, USA in May 1978 by Doug Fieger (Douglas Fieger, 20 August 1952, Detroit, Michigan, USA; vocals/guitar), Prescott Niles (bass), Berton Averre (guitar) and Bruce Gary (b. 7 April 1951, Burbank, California, USA, d. 22 August 2006, Los Angeles, California, USA; drums). Taking their name from a cult British movie of the 60s, they attempted to revive the spirit of the beat-boom with matching suits, and short songs boasting solid, easily memorable riffs. After garnering considerable media attention for their club appearances on the Californian coastline in early 1979, they became the fortuitous objects of a record company bidding war, which ended in their signing to Capitol Records. The fact that this was the Beatles’ US label was no coincidence, for the Knack consistently employed imagery borrowed from the ‘Fab Four’, both in their visual appearance and record sleeves. Their prospects were improved by the recruitment of renowned pop producer Mike Chapman, who had previously worked with Blondie. During the summer of 1979, the Knack’s well-publicized debut single ‘My Sharona’ promptly topped the US charts for six weeks, as well as reaching the UK Top 10 and selling a million copies. The first album, Get The Knack, was a scintillating pop portfolio, full of clever hooks and driving rhythms and proved an instant hit, selling five million copies in its year of release.

Implicit in the Knack’s abrupt rise were the seeds of their imminent destruction. In adapting 60s pop to snappy 70s production, they had also spiced up the standard boy/girl love songs with slightly more risqué lyrics for their modern audience. Critics, already suspicious of the powerful record company push and presumptuous Beatles comparisons, pilloried the band for their overt sexism in such songs as ‘Good Girls Don’t’, as well as reacting harshly to Fieger’s arrogance during interviews. At the height of the critical backlash, the Knack issued the apologetically titled ... But The Little Girls Understand, a sentiment that proved over-optimistic. Both the sales and the songs were less impressive and by the time of their third album, Round Trip, their power pop style seemed decidedly outmoded. By the end of 1981, they voluntarily disbanded with Fieger attempting unsuccessfully to rekindle recent fame with Taking Chances, while the others fared little better with the ill-fated Gama. They have reunited several times since, with drummers Billy Ward and Terry Bozzio completing the line-up, although the resulting studio albums have been largely forgettable.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.