It’s hard to believe that this past Valentine’s Day marked the fifth anniversary of the death of former frontman for The Knack, Doug Fieger. At 57 his passing was certainly untimely, as most folks’ memories of the Detroit area native were ones of a vibrant and vivacious performer. In 1979 his band’s album Get The Knack was one of the top sellers of that year, largely due to the monumental success of hit singles like “My Sharona” and “Good Girls Don’t.”
Berton Averre (lead guitar, backing vocals and keyboards), Prescott Niles (bass) and Bruce Gary (drums) were the core of the original group, with the unmistakable stage antics and exuberance of Fieger on rhythm guitar and lead vocals commanding the charge.
The band followed with the album But the Little Girls Understand in 1980. While that record did respectable numbers it failed to top or, even, equal the impact of their debut. Various band break-ups and reformations ensued resulting in six more band releases through 2012.
Doug Fieger, who grew up in Oak Park, had two siblings Geoffrey and Beth. Self-admittedly, Geoffrey, who had gained substantial national notoriety as an attorney who represented assisted suicide doctor Jack Kevorkian, has never really had the opportunity or has been asked in the past to talk about his brother. But he was most gracious and eager to reminisce with us about him here.
“We both started on piano and both of us became fascinated like billions of other kids with The Beatles when they were on Ed Sullivan,” says Fieger. “Shortly after that, around 6th grade, Doug had been playing in bands and got a Gretsch Country Gentleman guitar. I had a blonde 12 string Rickenbacker like Jim McGuinn of the Byrds. Doug was in a group called The Royal Jammers at that time.”
After that group, Doug, Geoffrey, John Coury (who eventually would join The Eagles’ backing band) and Bob Greenfield formed a group called Spirit. But they quickly changed their name to the New Spirit after they found out there was already a California outfit with that name.
“We played the Grande several times, but we practiced all the time,” explains Fieger. “I was into other things like sports and girls. I didn’t have the stick-to-itiveness that Doug had so I dropped out of the group. It became a three-some with Doug, John Coury, and Bob Greenfield and they changed their name to Sky.”