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Doug Fieger, lead singer of the Knack, passes away


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Wow sorry to hear about this I dident know he was sick. There was a time in 1979 when you were listening to the radio they would play my sharona constantly every hour. I was'nt a big fan of the song or the group but it sure was over played on the radio. RIP

I love the solo in that song. Freaking awesome!

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Posted: 5:37 p.m. Feb. 14, 2010

DOUG FIEGER | 1952-2010

Archive: 2003 interview with Knack's lead singer



Michigan-born Doug Fieger, who scaled the pop charts with the Knack, died this morning in California after a long battle with cancer. He was 57.

Fieger talked extensively in April 2003 with Free Press music writer Brian McCollum. At his home tucked in the Hollywood hills, Fieger sat among vintage rock instruments and studio gear as he reflected on a career that took him from Detroit's teen clubs to the heights of the music world.

On his musical upbringing in Oak Park, and his band Sky:

"I started playing in bands when I was 11. But didn't really start playing in a professional sense 'til I was 12 or 13. I got hooked up with a guy named John Coury, who was a multi-instrumentalist. He was a year older than me; played amazing guitar and Hammond organ. He'd play any instrument, really. He took me in his band with a guy who lived across the street from me -- if I let him use a guitar I had. My father had bought me a very nice Gretsch Country Gentleman. He said, 'You go rent a bass and you can be in our band. Because you've got to loan me your guitar.' So I did, and that's how I started playing bass. I was younger than them.

"We entered the Vox Band of the Land contest, which was a thing that Vox did around the country, and had all these semifinal things, and then there was gonna be a final show at the Michigan State Fairgrounds where the Lovin' Spoonful were the headlining band. We came in second in the semifinals and fifth in the finals. The Woolies were the band that came in first. We played right before the Woolies. We were very young, didn't do any original songs -- we did Byrds songs, Animals songs, Yardbirds songs.

"That was my first professional thing. We didn't really get paid, but the promise of a record deal and free equipment was there.

"We worked (the local teen clubs). If we made $10 a weekend it would be good. Our parents still had to drive us to gigs. But very shortly thereafter, not too long, that band morphed into Sky. John and I kind of bonded ... and we got a third guy who was kind of the hot drummer in Oak Park, a guy named Bob Greenfield. And that became Sky. I started writing songs, just said, 'I'm gonna do this.'"

On moving up in the Detroit scene during the '60s, including a deal with RCA Records and Rolling Stones producer Jimmy Miller:

"We played this English-oriented, three-part harmony power pop, and we were totally accepted on a gig with the MC5 and the Stooges and the Bob Seger System. The Red White & Blues Band, Savage Grace -- they all played kind of different things. All the Lonely People were a kind of horn band. Wilson Mower Pursuit were another one. Everybody was doing something different, and everything was accepted. You were not put down for doing anything.

"We had opened for the Who a couple of times. I'd gotten to talk to Townshend, and Keith Moon taught me how to twirl drumsticks backstage, and I had a couple of conversations with Townshend backstage. ...

"The kind of music that we played, I just didn't think was gonna catch on in Detroit, for a Detroit band. It was fine if you came from somewhere else. I had this idea of writing producers, so me and John Coury made a list of producers who we'd contact and the top four were George Martin, Shel Talmey, Pete Townshend and Jimmy Miller. ...

"We went to London (with Miller) and recorded the album and came back to Detroit. Jimmy said to us, 'Look, if I was you, I'd move to one of three places -- London, New York or Los Angeles.' And for me, it was a no-brainer -- Los Angeles was warm.

"Obviously we were a Detroit band, and I'm from Detroit, but we weren't representative of that era, of that time. Because the sound of what we did was something different. But to the credit of the scene, everything was allowed. We were totally accepted."

On forming the Knack in L.A. several years after Sky's 1971 breakup:

"It took me another seven years to put together a band. I'd been living in the basement in the house of a guy whose brother was the Who's business manager. I go upstairs one day and he says, 'Somebody wants to talk to you.' The Knack had been starting to get a name for itself around Los Angeles, we actually were getting very big, but this was before record companies got interested in us. I got on the phone and recognized this voice immediately. 'Hello, Doug, it's Pete Townshend.'

"When Pete Townshend came to America to promote 'Who Are You,' right before Moon died, a friend of mine up in San Francisco calls me and says, 'Pete Townshend's talking about you on TV!' They'd asked him if there were any young bands that were any good, and he says, 'Well, I know this guy named Doug Fieger, I met him when he was a little kid in Detroit, and he's got this band called the Knack, and you're gonna hear from 'em.' It was just one of those things -- I'd played with him a few times, met him backstage a couple of times, sent him a demo tape, and he remembered. That was the kind of camaraderie, that kind of support, that was in Detroit -- even with bands that came from other places. THEY recognized that. They joined the family. It was like that."

On the inspiration for "My Sharona":

"I had this girlfriend that I was living with. We'd started living together in Detroit when we were 15. She lived with me and my parents at my parents' house. I stayed out here (in L.A.) when Sky broke up, and she came out here and we started living together here, for another eight years. She started working as a hairdresser, and she met this young girl named Sharona, who had worked at a children's clothing store across the street from her hairdressing salon.

"She introduced me to her, and I instantly fell in love. I'd been living with Judy for a long time, and loved her, but I fell in love with this girl. We broke up and I moved out. We're very good friends to this day.

"That's how it happened. I chased her. Most of the songs on the first and second Knack albums were written about her. There was a song on the first album called 'Good Girls Don't' about a girl I'd met in Oak Park, at Clinton Junior High School, named Bobbie Ernstein. She was there for two years, and then she moved to St. Louis. She actually said those words to me: 'Good girls don't, but I do.'"

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