This Nearly-Forgotten Band from Michigan Broke a Beatles Record
Although this Detroit band's career was short-lived, it lasted long enough to shatter a record held by The Beatles for fifteen years.
Most rock fans know the story of how Brian Epstein got "a polite or impolite but emphatic no" when he brought four lads from Liverpool 'round for auditions. Despite being turned down by at least four respected record companies, a label called Decca finally signed The Beatles. Americans weren't sold on the British invasion yet, and Capital records turned down the first three Beatles singles before releasing "I Want To Hold Your Hand" after the Fab Four appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show. The record sold a million copies in just ten days.
The Facebook group Michigan Music History has the story of how that record was shattered by a guy from Oak Park who dashed off a timeless song in just fifteen minutes.
The summer of '79 was rocking .. as Detroiter Doug Fieger would head west and would help form a new band, called the Knack .. and on June 23rd, 1979 .. their first hit would make its Billboard debut on this day. A song Doug wrote about his girlfriend at the time, Sharona Alperin .. who just so happened to be on the cover of the single. The song would set a record, as the fastest record to sell a million copies than any other in the history of Capitol Records .. passing the Beatles, "I Want To Hold Your Hand"
That song is, of course, "My Sharona." Inspired by infatuation that "was like getting hit in the head with a baseball bat," 25 year-old Fieger wrote this motor-running, never gonna stop, give it up, power pop song for his 17 year-old girlfriend Sharona Alpin. Borrowing the drum part from Smokey Robinson & the Miracles' "Going to a Go-Go" and turning the guitar riff from Spencer Davis Group's "Gimmer Some Lovin'" upside down, this sixties-inspired song became a #1 hit for six weeks in 1979 and sold a million quicker than the Beatles.
Two quick follow-ups: If you think the name Fieger sounds familiar for some reason, you're right. The Knack singer Doug's older brother became an attorney. Geoffrey Fieger captured national headlines in 1994 as the lawyer for suicide doctor Jack Kevorkian. He would go on to represent the family of Scott Amedure in their case against The Jenny Jones Show, a Jerry Springer Show guest, and clients from the Columbine High School massacre and Fieger also filed a $100 million class action lawsuit in the Flint Water Crisis and ran for Governor of Michigan in 1998.
As for Sharona and Doug? The pair got engaged but were never married.
Stand Up Comics from Michigan
Detroit Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Members