Sunday, February 14, 2010

RIP: Doug Fieger

We at PowerPop are sad to hear of the death of Doug Fieger, the man who, for better or worse, largely defined the power pop genre in that summer of 1979. Be at peace.



from Boys Don't Lie:

Much ink has been spilled excoriating The Knack for their role in what is often seen as the too-fast rise of power pop, and its attendant precipitous decline. Many critics noted the band’s attitude, all smirking and sneering, their refusal to grant interviews, and the sheer ballsy arrogance of Doug Fieger. In the documentary Getting the Knack, critic David Wild notes, “Something about this band exploding that big and seeming to take it only half-seriously rubbed people the wrong way.” Fieger has since insisted that “if The Knack hadn’t hit big, if Get the Knack had sold only as many units as, say, [Big Star’s] Radio City, they would have been revered today as a visionary cult act.” Possibly, but that isn’t what happened, and by the end of the summer of 79, critics and listeners alike were wearying of the Knack Attack. Wild says, “The Knack went from zero to ninety and basically became a car wreck very, very quickly. And I think it was mostly because of the media. We went from ‘gotta hear the Knack!’ to ‘Get the fuck outta here, Knack!’” San Francisco artist David Hughes launched a “Knuke the Knack” campaign which amused the band (until they sued), but the backlash (or, in the overwhelmingly pun-laden jargon of the day, the Knacklash) was much larger than that.

13 comments:

steve simels said...

Im going to have to find his hilarious cameo appearance on the first Was/Not Was album.

RIP, Doug.

Alex said...

Sad news.

While they probably didn't deserve all the hype (including Capitol bringing back the Beatles-era swirl for their records), they definitely didn't deserve all the backlash.

At the end of the day, they were a good, fun, band with a great sound. RIP Doug... and thanks for the music.

Anonymous said...

wow that hits hard. his songs defined teen lust and I was huge into the knack when they broke. time to go jam on some good girls don't...

Brooklyn Girl said...

"My Sharona" was THE song you wanted playing at full blast when driving through the NJ Pine Barrens ... great fun, and sad news.

FD13NYC said...

Good band The Knack was. They had quite a few other good songs besides the obvious hits. Actually the whole first LP was kind of a gem that exploded from nowhere back in 1979. Bruce Gary, the original drummer was the first to go a few years back.

Let's all groove to The Knack's music for a couple of days in remembrance to Doug and Bruce, I know I will. Good work guys!

French dude said...

I was 15 years old when i discovered the Knack ! That single was such a blast .. My Sharona / Let me Out ! I always been a very avid fan and saw them in the US while travelling there .. Always listening to their records and the latest ones ( Pop is Dead , Zoom ..)
Feels like a part of my youth is gone for good today.. R.I.P Doug ..

NYMary said...

The discussion of The Knack in the book goes on for a bit longer, but I like the Wild quote here which implies that a lot of what happened--their sheer dominance and then the blackout--was media-driven. Capitol told them, when they signed, that they'd be lucky to sell 50,000 records. But they were a club sensation in LA, which is why Capitol risked it.

Worth noting, too: Capitol didn't pick a single off this record. DJs focused on "My Sharona," but it was by no means a given that this would be the one.

(I always had a soft spot in my heart for "Good Girls Don't," but remember that I was 12, and an aspiring Catholic-Girl-Gone-Bad back in the day.)

steve simels said...

I was obviously a little older than NYMary when the Knack hit, and I will confess to being a little put off by"Good Girls Don't."

Catchy as it was, it struck me as a little unseemly in its leering attitude, given the age of its singer.

That was the perceived problem with The Knack, though, I think -- they were trying to hard. And a not unfair criticism, although in retrospect the music is pretty damn good...

Anonymous said...

My 3 daughters have all been involved in colorguard with the high school marching band. In the winter, the guard performs and competes alone, with taped music (winterguard). At the end of each competition, and at the state finals, My Sharona is played and all the girls rush the floor to do a little dance that they made up. This has been going on for at least 5 years that I'm aware of. It's such a joyful thing to see these girls come running from all corners of the building to get on the gym floor and join in. That song will always bring a smile to my face.
And living in Michigan, we still claim Doug Feiger.

Anonymous said...

Is it just me, or did Doug Fieger, especialy in this wonderful clip, bear a passing resemblance to John Lennon? R.I.P.

willendorfVenus said...

Mary, I think I am bezackly 1 year younger than you. The Knack DEFINED rock & roll sexuality for clueless youth in the '80s.

It was the "Chevy van and that's all right with me," in the '70s.

"I Wanna Hold Your Hand," in the '60s.

And "We're So Repressed We Never, Ever Have Sex," in the '50s.

Billy said...

steve
you're probably aware that Shoes had a similar (though FAR less public) backlash from working Chicago bands: "How did this group that records in its living room, never plays out, end up with a record deal?"

That Sharona drum-beat drove nails into the corpse of the disco-saturated airwaves of '79.

John Shipley said...

That first Knack record is incredible, which is why they got big. It's not because they captured the zeitgeist; it was 1979 -- they were too late by 15 years and too early by 10. It was the songs that made them famous. Someone once said, "People don't buy music they like; they buy music they can't live without." That's true, and that's "My Sharona." The rest of the record is mostly brilliant. I was only about 13-14 when that came out, but I remember the reviews. They didn't know what to make of them; they liked it but felt they shouldn't. It was great rock 'n' roll but not socially "relevant" like Springsteen or the Clash. When the second record, frankly, wasn't up to snuff, they all said, "See! I told you!" That documentary is pretty good, and the best thing about it -- as is the case with a lot of rock documentaries -- is Steve Jones, who says, essentially, "I loved that record. So what?"

That first record is so finely wrought, so melodic, so well arranged and performed, so much energy -- and so ahead of the curve in terms of, uh, fully unsheathing teenage sexual angst -- that i still find it astonishing that more of the power pop intelligensia haven't fully embraced it. Then again, maybe you just had to be there.