Forming in Los Angeles in the late '70s, the Knack (Doug Fieger, vocals/guitar; Berton Averre, lead guitar; Prescott Niles, bass; and Bruce Gary, drums) were neither punk nor rock, but pure simple pop, standing out among the musical dross that littered the Sunset Strip. Signing with Capitol after a feeding frenzy of label offers, the Knack released their debut, Get the Knack, in 1979. With its leadoff single, "My Sharona," the Knack climbed both the album and singles charts (eventually selling millions of copies around the globe), gained wide commercial acceptance, and regenerated the power pop scene that had laid dormant for half a decade.
The Knack's image, or lack thereof, was often unfavorably compared to the Beatles, but their music relied on the rough punchiness of the Kinks and the Who rather than the Fab Four. Their refusal to do interviews turned critics against them, and by the time they released their second album, ...But the Little Girls Understand, less than a year after the debut, the backlash had already begun ("Knuke the Knack").
The Knack then began a quick spiral downward that they were never to recover from. Their third album, Round Trip, was adventurous and daring and received favorable reviews, but the band decided to split up soon after the album was released. Due to their continuing underground popularity, the Knack resurfaced almost a decade later (minus Bruce Gary) and recorded the abysmal Serious Fun before hiding out once again to lick their wounds. The appearance of "My Sharona" on soundtracks and compilations caused the Knack to be thrown in the midst of a revival of sorts, reuniting and playing the occasional show in L.A. Bruce Gary temporarily returned to the fold, but by the time the Knack released their second "reunion" album, Zoom, during the summer of 1998, the drum stool had been filled by Terry Bozzio (formerly of Missing Persons and Frank Zappa's band). Still, the bandmembers hoped that a whole new generation of music fans would get the Knack with the release of 2001's Normal as the Next Guy, an album that found the group at its best when discarding old formulas. Fieger, however, died in 2010 after battling lung and heart cancer. ~ Steve Schnee