To quote the late Bruce Gary and Original drummer of The Knack, “ I
think if it weren’t for The Sex Pistols The Knack might have not
Most people remember The Knack for Their Record Breaking debut album
“Get The Knack”, and their power pop hit “My Sharona”, not only receiving
national but also absolutely world wide global success.
To quote Doug Fieger, “We went from being a local band playing The
Troubador and The Starwood, to being the biggest band in the World.”
Few may realize that the birth of such a commercially successful band
came out of the rise of The New Wave Punk movement that was emerging out
of the U.K. with bands such as ; The Jam, The Dammed, Generation X,
The Clash, The Pretenders, and The Notorious Sex Pistols. Influencing
The states from the east to the west coast with fresh bands like “The
Ramones, The Pattie Smith Group, Blondie, X, The Zeros, The Germs, The
Alley Cats, The Dills, The Plimsouls, and The Ohio based Rubber City
People who were tired of The Arena Rock bands like Aerosmith and Van
Halen naturally gravitated to this unique and somewhat underground scene.
Doug Fieger, a Detroit native began playing music at an incredibly
early age, and by his teens began his musical Journey by way of British
Influences with a local Detroit band called “Sky” opening up for bands
like Traffic and The Who. They signed on to RCA records and went to L.A.
Due to High maintenance management the band disbanded, and Doug decided
to stay in L.A. largely motivated by better coastal weather, and the first
musician he met was a drummer by the name of Bruce Gary.
Before Bruce worked in The Knack he had a long lists of projects
starting with Albert Collins at the age of fifteen, which led into meeting
Arthur Lee of Love, Albert King, John Lee Hooker and Jack Bruce. To quote
Bruce, “I wanted to be the Buddy Rich of Rock and Roll people like Ginger
Baker and Keith Moon really impressed me.”
In 1971/1972 Bruce was doing a lot of session work for Capitol Records
where an in house producer contacted him saying there was this local guy
from Detroit who wanted to make Demos. Doug and Bruce practiced at Bruce’s
moms house. Doug on Bass and Bruce of course on drums. Doug recalls. “I
always put it in the back of my mind that one day I’d be in a band with
Following in the Spring of ’73 Doug auditioned for Rob Carmichael and
witnessed what he called “ A hippy Huck Finn (aka; Berton Averre) going
off on guitar.” The two pulled each other aside, creatively connected, and
were inseperable music partners in the years to come turning out song
after song, and truly working as a team.
Doug contacted Bruce with enthusiasm telling him that he found a great
In 1976 they recorded a demo, only to be turned down by every label in
L.A., N.Y. and London not to mention Capitol Records, who also turned them
down four times. The same guys who would later sign them.
In this same year Doug got a call to do session work for a band called
‘The Rats” who recorded an album called “The Sunset Bombers” on a paid
gig. Their drummer Brandon Matheson (Also drummer of The Rubber City
Rebels) introduced Doug to the Single “Anarchy in the U.K.” by The Sex
Pistols. Doug became magnetically influenced musically, and fashionably
adapting not only the white shirt and black vested look in clothes but as
well in wide eyed expressions on stage. He urged Bruce and Berton that
they put a band together and play live.
In the Spring of 1978 Bruce Gary brought in Prescott Niles on bass.
They finally had their four member.
On June first of that year they played their first gig at The Whisky a
Go-Go.-as well as going onto The Starwood and The Doug Weston’s Troubador.
Doug Weston states that “It really got hopping here in the fall of ’78
The Knack played over 150 shows that year, and there was a Buzz on the
street out about them. “. Soon Celebrities began to get up on stage and
Jam with them starting with Robbie Krieger of The Doors, Eddie Money, and
Bruce Gary invited fellow friend Bruce Springsteen down on a Friday
night. Springsteen jumped on stage for a firery Jam session, and on Monday
The Knack had 14 record offers.
They went with Bruce Ravid an A & R guy at Capitol, and Mike Chapman
recorded and produced them.
Get The Knack was recorded in 11 days, only taking two days to mix. In
short they recorded it Live.
Steve Jones of The Sex Pistols: “ I remember having the album I used to
listen to it back home in England, and I couldn’t really tell people
because it wasn’t really cool, I love that album.”
The Get The Knack Album became the fastest selling album from a new
band more than any other since The Beatles. They had The number one
single, number one F.M. airplay, and number one retail for five weeks.,
and selling over fifty million copies.
To some their success looked masterminded, but Capitol only invested
fiftey grand promoting it. The Knack couldn’t have calculated or
capitalized on their success, it was of it’s own creation.
The band became Huge so quickly, and their management made naïve
mistakes advising them not to do any interviews, which ultimately and
visiously backfired on the band. The critics went from love to hate all
The unity and Spirit that The Knack started out with was unfortunately
permeated by the negative backlash of the press by the time period of
their second album. Causing a subtle rise of withdraw and alienation with
in the band.
The “No Interview Policy” jepordized great opportunities and
appearances on American Band Stand, the Grammy’s, and appearances on
Saturday Night Live.
The Knack were out on tour absolutely oblivious to these damaging
choices, and consequences these decisions would have.
Hence the Knuke The Knack Campaign followed making it a near fad to
dog them. The Band showed a good sense of humor about it actually
purchasing Knuke The Knack T-shirts and other memorbilla.
The first and Second album were meant to be a double album, but it was
cut in two and recorded only six months after the release of the first
one. Following on too quickly from the first.
Alienation, and excessive drug use took it’s toll in the midst of
their sophomore jinx, when hitting the peak of exhaustion of the second
straight year of constant touring. Which Bruce Gary quotes “We needed a
break, we were worked to the bone.” Nerves were frazzled if not shot, and
Doug states “That it made it impossible to think clearly.”
Pressures were building, and tensions began to arise between Doug and
Bruce, but they didn’t want to blow a good thing and decided to hang in
there for The Knack’s third album “Roundtrip” they chose producer Jack
Douglas, who was known for his recent completion of “Double Fantasy”
Jack says he was “Trying to escape the horror of John Lennon’s death
and threw himself into a workaholic cycle with the recording of
“Roundtrip” Bruce later described those sessions like “walking into a sea
of Insanity” Further drug use ensued and the story tale runs like a
classic VH1 “behind The music” The band went on a three week club tour in
the Fall of ’81 and broke up on New Years Eve of the same year.
In the time between their next incarnation Doug got clean and sober.
In 1986 Doug and Berton reunited and put together another tour, but
ultimately it led to Bruce Gary yielding in his own direction as The Knack
went on with new drummers.
In 1991 they released their fourth album “Serious Fun” making the top
ten with their radio hit “Rocket of Love” taking an unpredictable turn
with a Heavy Metal album.
They had a resurgence of Popularity when “My Sharona” was featured on
The “Reality Bites “ soundtrack, and in 1998 they released their fifth
album “Zoom” a refreshing and honest album more loyal to The Knack’s true
and original roots.
In 2001 they followed with their sixth album “Normal As The Next Guy”
and it is truly on of their most eclectic albums. Showing how versatile
and muliti-dimensional this band has always been.
Bruce Ravid: “If smells like teen spirit” was the gateway to the
nineties, My Sharona was the gateway to the eighties.”
In closing I must agree with that well known quote about “Those who can
create, and those who can’t criticize”
Although I’m biased.
I was hit with the passion of their music at a very young
impressionable age with all the enthusiasm Cameron Crowe had for Led
Zepplin as a excited young teen. I like many around that time heard of
them through classic word of mouth (Thank you Dave in “Beatlemania”)
I’m glad to report my friends and I never followed the fads of the Hate
campaigns. We were proud to say they influenced us creatively and if that
made us un cool, well even cooler.
The Knack have continued to play very steadily and successfully up to
Summer of 2006, but on Aug 3rd of this year I was stunned,
along with many to hear Doug Fieger underwent Brain Surgery at Cedar Saini
for the removal of two tumors, and then continually shocked to hear of
Bruce Gary’s passing at Tarzana Medical Center just nineteen days later
for complications from Non-Hodgkins lymphoma.
The last time I saw Bruce was at a Trader Joes in the Valley He greeted
me warmly as he often did with people.
He was open, warm, affectionate and as good natured as I always want to
remember him. He will be greatly missed greatly by all those who were
lucky enough to know him.
News has it that Doug is on the mend, and lets bet that the future of
this talented band is bright. They certainly left their mark in Rock
History, and matter much more to their fans than the long forgotten
Thanks Ginger for this opportunity to write about a band I am fondly aquainted
with, and Hats off to The Knack for all they have contributed past and
present, may their legacy continue.
Further works of Bruce Gary Beyond The Knack include: Bob Dylan,
George Harrison, Stephan Stills, Rod Stewart, Sheyrl Crow, Bette Middler,
Yoko Ono, Harry Neilson, Robby Kreiger, Session Work for John Desmore, and
Technical support in Oliver Stone’s movie “ The Door” , Denny Laine (of
The Moody Blues and Paul McCartney and Wings) Ringo Starr, Spencer Davies,
Fuzzy Knight, The Ventures, Mick Taylor Band, and a corporate gig with The
Bruce leaves us at the young age of fiftey five. Let's keep his
endearing memory and music alive.