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Rockers, Sharona pay tribute to Knack frontman Doug Fieger (UPDATE)

By Dean Goodman
February 16, 2010

(updates with statement from Sharona Alperin)

As the family of Doug Fieger prepared a private cremation for the frontman of 1970s pop-rockers the Knack, tributes poured in from the music world. Guns N’ Roses/Velvet Revolver veterans Slash and Matt Sorum took to Twitter to describe Fieger as, respectively, “one of the most spiritually enlightened people I’ve ever known” and “a true man of grace.”

FIEGERFormer KISS guitarist Bruce Kulick, who got to know Fieger through their work with the Rock ‘n’ Roll Fantasy Camp and also enlisted him for his recent solo album “BK3,”  hailed him as “a fellow guitar freak who had an amazing collection of gear.” (Befitting his Detroit heritage and musical leanings, Fieger was also an auto enthusiast and a collector of Beatles memorabilia.) 

Fieger died at his Los Angeles-area home on Sunday after battling lung cancer for six years. He was 57. His sister, Beth, said he would be cremated at a private ceremony, and tentative plans were underway for a public memorial in late March.

The Knack are perhaps best known for their single “My Sharona,” which was Billboard’s biggest hit of 1979 in the United States. Fieger was 26 when he wrote the song (with guitarist Berton Averre) in a successful attempt to woo a 17-year-old Los Angeles high school girl named Sharona Alperin. She now sells real estate in Los Angeles. 

“Since the song first hit the airwaves more than 30 years ago, whenever I meet someone new or give my name, the response is always the same, “Oh, Sharona, like “My Sharona?” The fact this continues to happen daily, no matter the person’s age, serves as a testament to the enduring impact of Doug’s amazing talent,” Alperin said in a statement.

Its six-week reign atop the Hot 100 ranks as the third-longest-running No. 1 in the rock era for Capitol Records after seven-week stretches by the Beatles’ “I Want to Hold Your Hand” and Katy Perry’s “I Kissed a Girl.” Officials at Capitol, whose enthusiastic hyping of the Knack led to a backlash, said they had no plans to release a statement. 

The band’s debut album, “Get the Knack,” ruled the U.S. chart for five weeks, but subsequent releases were less successful, and the band broke up mid-tour on New Year’s Day 1982. A few reunion albums and tours followed, but none could match the massive boost provided by the 1994 movie “Reality Bites,” which incorporated “My Sharona.” See the video here. The Knack’s drummer, Bruce Gary, died of non-Hodgkin lymphoma in 2006.

Fieger had a recurring role on “Roseanne” as one of John Goodman’s poker buddies, and released a solo album in 2000, “First Things First.” In addition to his sister, he is survived ny his brother, Geoffrey, a high-profile attorney in Detroit.

“Doug did not suffer,” his family said in a statement. “He is in a better place. And wherever he is, his love and music will continue to shower down upon all of us who remain in this mortal coil, forever.”

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