1979 The Knack – Good Girls Don’t
Everybody remembers some of their firsts, and The Knack supplies one for me: they were the first group that I discovered already had a number one record on the charts before I heard the song.
Doug Fieger grew up near Detroit and was singing lead vocals in the band Sky in the early seventies. They released a pair of albums but none of their records charted.
He moved to LA, where he met Berton Averre. Berton played lead guitar and keyboards and added backup vocals. The two began writing songs together. Doug even recorded a few demos, but no labels showed any interest.
Drummer Bruce Gary and bass-player Prescott Niles joined them by 1978, and the band they formed The Knack. The group began playing at clubs and successfully jammed with the likes of Tom Petty and Bruce Springsteen. The response from audiences led to ten record labels getting into a bidding war to sign the band. The contract they signed with Capitol Records included a huge sign-up bonus.
The investment paid off: Capitol sold over two million copies of the group’s first album. The lead single from the album was My Sharona, a solid rock song that cut through any remnants of disco on the radio. The record hit number one on the Hot 100 very quickly and was the biggest-selling single of 1979.
The group’s second single came with a similar sound, but the R-rated lyrics on the album version were too much for AM radio. The single version of Good Girls Don’t changed several lines of the song, but it didn’t completely tame the emotions involved. The record peaked at only #11 on the Hot 100 later in 1979.
The group had written enough material for two albums before they started recording for Capitol but had to prune that down to a single album. They recorded the remaining songs for their second album in 1980. Perhaps they picked out too much of the good stuff the first time, or maybe there was too much backlash against the group, but the second album only sold enough copies for a gold record. The lead single, Baby Talks Dirty, peaked at only #38, and the group never got near the top forty again.
A third album did even more poorly, and Doug left the group and formed a new band in 1982. The band simply broke up after that.
When none of their individual efforts succeeded, the band reformed in 1986. Billy Ward took over as their drummer in 1989, and the band recorded one last album in 1990. The group released the single Rocket O’ Love from that album. The song missed the Hot 100 but reached #9 on the US Mainstream Rock chart.
Rapper Everlast sampled My Sharona in a song entitled I Got The Knack in 1990, but it didn’t take off. His recording career really went nowhere until he abandoned the Vanilla Ice-style white rapper image, joined House of Pain, and gave us the single Jump Around in 1992.
My Sharona was reissued in 1994 after being included in the soundtrack for the film Reality Bites but only reached #91 on the Hot 100.
Several more members came and went while the group made appearances during the next two decades. The band finally disbanded when Doug lost his battle with heart and lung cancer and died in 2010.
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