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The Knack

rock classic rock new wave power pop 80s

There have been several bands with this name:

1. The Knack was a Los Angeles-based / band from Detroit, Michigan. They rose to fame with their first single, "My Sharona", which was an international hit in 1979. The of "My Sharona", coupled with the band's look, earned the band comparisons to The Beatles (though the band members themselves viewed the 'New Beatles' label as tongue-in-cheek). Many music critics hated , which dominated the music industry at the time, and were, at best, coolly receptive to other developing trends like , , and .

The Knack's influences earned them some critical credibility and massive commercial success with their debut album, 1979's 'Get The Knack'. The band had formed in May 1978, known at first as '20/20', and, after shopping their demo tape to various record labels without success, they began playing the local club circuit. Quickly gaining a following as musicians such as Tom Petty and Bruce Springsteen praised them, they finally signed with Capitol Records in January 1979. Reaching #1 on the Billboard 200 chart, 'Get The Knack' has earned praise for decades, with Kurt Cobain in particular claiming it as one of his top fifty albums of all time.

While fans praised their and fueled sound, many critics still found issues with the group's in-your-face image in their lyrics, with accusations of misogyny popping up. After subsequent releases, the social backlash against the Knack (similar to that of The Monkees a generation earlier) was strong. Dave Marsh of 'Rolling Stone' in particular wrote, "In Fieger's lyrics, women are literally commodities whose chief purpose is to be brutalized." A 'Knuke the Knack' campaign emerged based on that as well as the perceived corporate-based over-hype. With their second album, '...But the Little Girls Understand', getting less commercial success (doing well, but not up to expectations), the band broke up mid-tour on New Year’s Day 1982. Besides the turmoil around the group, they also faced near total burnout among themselves, particularly given Fieger's drugs-heavy lifestyle, and the band members reportedly hadn't the energy to do much of anything after their third album, 'Round Trip', came out.

They re-united sporadically several years later and released a new album on January 16, 1991, titled 'Serious Fun'. A comeback accompanied by a public reunion and tour, it failed to reach either commercial or critical success but resulted in the hit single "Rocket O' Love", which reached #9 in Billboard's Mainstream Rock Chart. They continued playing through the and into the new millennium, with 2003's 'Re-Zoom' (or 'Zoom') being their last studio album. Commercial airplay mostly eluded the group over the , but a generation of new fans who loved -era music provided a devoted cult following. Lead singer and main songwriter Doug Fieger was diagnosed with cancer in 2005. Fieger battled the disease until his death on Valentine's Day 2010.

Fieger, a native of Detroit, Michigan, had previously played in a country rock band called Sky. Of the three other original members of the Knack (Berton Averre - Guitar, Prescott Niles - Bass, and Bruce Gary - Drums), Averre and Niles remained with the group as it ended. Gary died of non-Hodgkin lymphoma in 2006. Several drummers had played for the group over the years, including Billy Ward (Serious Fun album), Terry Bozzio (Zoom album), and David Henderson as 'Holmes Jones' (Normal as the Next Guy and Live at the Rock N Roll Funhouse albums). Pat Torpey (Mr. Big) played the drums for the group right before they ended.

2. The Knack was a short-lived 1960s psych/garage band from Los Angeles, CA., United States. They recorded for Capitol Records. Formed in 1965, the band comprising Mike Chain (lead vocals, rhythm guitar), Dink Kaplan (lead guitar, backing vocals), Larry Gould (bass, backing vocals) and Pug Baker (drums), formally débuted at The Ice House in October 1966 and released four singles in total, of which Time Waits For No One was the best-seller. They toured throughout the U.S. but worked most frequently in Hollywood.

3. The Knack were originally known as The Londoners, a moniker they adopted whilst paying their beat group dues in the clubs of Germany in the early 60s. Upon returning to the UK in 1965 and changing their name to the rather hipper The Knack (after the recently released Richard Lester film), they recorded half a dozen singles for Decca and Piccadilly including the mod R&B ravers "She Ain't No Good", "Time Time Time" and "Stop!". Their final single, "(Man From The) Marriage Guidance And Advice Bureau", featured a more mature acoustic sound, which nodded towards both The Kinks and the impending psychedelic explosion. They broke up in 1967 and leader Paul Gurvitz formed the band The Gun.


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