It’s one of the most enduring riffs in pop history, and it took forever to turn into a song. Guitarist Berton Averre had noodled around with the snappy “bunna-nunna-nuh-nuh” chord sequence for ages, even before he joined the L.A. New Wave outfit, The Knack, in 1977. But he was never able to figure out just what to do with it.
Finally, Averre presented the riff to Doug Fieger, The Knack’s other guitarist, as well as the band’s singer and principal songwriter. Fieger liked it, but his search for lyrical inspiration initially eluded him. When inspiration did finally hit… it did so like a thunderbolt.
Sharona Alperin was a 17-year-old high school bombshell when the 25-year-old Fieger was introduced to her by his then-girlfriend. Fieger went back to the apartment he and his girlfriend shared and wrote “My Sharona,” in part, to woo Alperin.
Fieger told Sound on Sound, “At the same time The Knack started, I met a little girl named Sharona, whom I fell in love with. When I would think about Sharona, Berton's riff came to mind. So, Berton and I got together and worked out a structure and a melody and the words.”
Alperin was indeed wooed by Fieger’s musical charms, accompanying the band to the studio for the recording. The two would go on to date for four years and were even engaged to be married before eventually breaking up. But the real-life Sharona’s inspiration was enough to push the tune into commercial heaven (her smokin’ photo on the single cover didn’t hurt sales either!). The song hit #1 in the U.S. on this date in 1979 and stayed there for five weeks. In 2008, when Billboard released its 100 All-Time Top Songs, “My Sharona” came in at #75.
Although Fieger and Alperin had broken off their engagement, they remained friends. When Fieger passed away earlier this year after a long battle with cancer, Alperin issued a press release:
“Doug Fieger wrote a song about me that changed both of our lives forever. ‘My Sharona’ became an iconic smash hit, and even though Doug and I didn't end up together, we remained close friends through all these years. His searing wit, love of music and ability to recall the B-side of any 45, his gift for making friends and keeping them for decades, and his incredible optimism in the face of the toughest challenge remained vital until the very end.”
Special thanks to ThisDayinMusic.com.
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