35 Years Ago We Got the Knack … and Sharona
It was 35 years ago this week that Get the Knack was released, the debut album by the Los Angeles-based foursome that set the world on fire with a testosterone-fueled single "My Sharona."
While the Knack is no more, following the death of drummer Bruce Gary in 2006 from lymphoma and later singer/guitarist Doug Fieger of cancer in 2010, "My Sharona" and the woman that inspired it — and much of Get the Knack as a whole — lives on. She is Sharona Alperin, a Los Angeles real estate agent who still embraces the aural love letter Fieger wrote for her when she was just 17.
When you visit Alperin's website — yes, it's mysharona.com — you'll hear that familiar tribal drumbeat, followed by Prescott Niles's thundering bass, Berton Averre's guitar, and Fieger's vocal, pleading, "Ooh my little pretty one, pretty one / When you gonna give me some time, Sharona?"
When Alperin, then a student at Los Angeles' Fairfax High School, was first introduced to Fieger, she recalls the singer had "almost a physical reaction, I'll never forget." A few weeks later, he invited her to see the band's showcase at SIR Studios. A month later, he invited Alperin to share a meal at a Melrose Avenue cafe, and confessed his feelings.
"He said, 'I'm madly in love with you and one day we're going to be together,'" Alperin recalls. "And I said, 'Are you crazy? You've been with someone for nine years and I'm completely in love with my boyfriend.'"
At one point, Fieger, frustrated that Alperin wouldn't drop her boyfriend, banned her from coming to the Knack's shows, but that didn't last for long. He couldn't get her out of his mind — so much so, he started singing her name while he was working on some lyrics to accompany a two-year-old guitar riff that Averre had kicking around.
"I started singing 'My Sharona,' and Burton said, 'You can't do that. You're living with someone else.'" Yet Fieger couldn't help himself. "After I met Sharona, I knew the feeling I had for her would translate well with the rhythm of that song," he told me in an interview conducted for The Billboard Book of Number One Albums.
Fieger was right. The song became the summer hit of 1979, pushing Get the Knack and the single itself to No. 1, and Sharona became his new girlfriend, but it didn't happen overnight.