Monday, February 15, 2010

A Couple More Losses

More sad news to report this evening ...
I didn't get this ready in time to include in yesterday's Sunday Comments Page ...
But I've had so many responses from our readers in the last 48 hours that I felt it best to put together some sort of a small, special tribute on the web page.
This past weekend we lost Don Fieger of The Knack and early rocker Dale Hawkins.
Don had been fighting brain cancer for a while now and it wasn't unusual to see updates in the musical press regarding his condition ... but the news about Dale Hawkins (also a cancer victim) was especially disheartening, as we had just read an article / interview with him in the brand new issue of "Keep Rockin'" Magazine a few days ago.
Giving us the "official" word is Ron Smith, Forgotten Hits' very own Grim Reaper ... followed by a couple of your comments as well.

Doug Fieger, guitarist with the Knack and lead singer on "My Sharona," lost his own fight with brain and lung cancer Sunday (February 14) at a California hospital. He had announced on January 11 that he that he had a piece of his lung removed two years ago and had suffered 22 brain tumors since. All-told, Doug underwent three craniotomies as well as whole-brain radiation.
The Detroit native founded the Knack along with Berton Averre, Prescott Niles and Bruce Gary in Los Angeles in 1978. Their straight-ahead, power pop sound was a refreshing antidote to the current disco boom and their first release, "My Sharona, went to #1 forsix weeks in 1979. The "real" Sharona Alperin was Doug's 16 year-old girlfriend at the time and it was her that adorned the single's picture sleeve holding their first album, "Get The Knack." The success of that first single led to an immediate backlash however. The follow-up that year, "Good Girls Don't," stalled at #11 while "Baby Talks Dirty" onlyreached #38 the following year. After three more songs failed to reach the top 60, the group disbanded in 1982, though it reunited in 1986 to little success.
-- Ron Smith

(always one of MY favorite picture sleeves!!!)
We've all heard "My Sharona" (that's Don's REAL Sharona in the photo, by the way!) a zillion times ... but I've got a couple of OTHER Knack favorites that I'd like to share with you today.
First up, their "Bottom 40" Hit "Can't Put A Price On Love", which peaked at #62 in Billboard Magazine in 1980. If "My Sharona" and the look of the first Knack album seemed to recall (quite intentionally, I might add!) images of The Early Beatles, then THIS song ought to conjur up memories of The Rolling Stones (and their hit "Beast Of Burden" in particular.) A pretty song showing the OTHER side of The Knack.

And then one of my personal favorites (and one that me and the boys used to perform live all the time in our early '80's band) ... "Frustrated", B-Side to their second chart hit "Good Girls Don't".

Knack lead singer Doug Fieger dies of cancer
Paul Egan / The Detroit News
(submitted by Gary Renfield)
Doug Fieger, who pursued his childhood dreams from suburban Detroit to a brief stint at the top of the pop music world with his band The Knack, died Sunday, Feb. 14, 2010, after a lengthy battle with cancer.
Fieger, who wrote and sang lead vocals on the 1979 hit "My Sharona," was 57.
His death was confirmed by his brother, prominent Southfield attorney Geoffrey Fieger.
He attended Eleanor Roosevelt Elementary School in Oak Park and Oak Park High School. When he died, Fieger was living in Woodland Hills, Calif., and being treated at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. He had battled lung cancer for six years.
"Doug didn't wait for the world to come to him -- he made his own destiny, even as early as high school," said David Weiss, who went to school with Fieger in Oak Park and was later known professionally as David Was with the Detroit-born rock-funk band Was (Not Was).
"He was a trendsetter, even in high school," Weiss said. "I think it was in 1964 that he showed up at school with the first bell bottoms anyone had ever seen and a pair of boots -- I think they were pink."
Richard Fishman, now an antiques dealer in California, was in Fieger's first band, the Royal Jammers, when they were both about 11 years old.
He remembers Fieger as a Beatles fanatic with an encyclopedic knowledge of rock history who insisted his first guitar be an expensive Gretsch Country Gentleman, because that's what George Harrison played.
"He collected all this Beatles paraphernalia in a box under his bed," Fishman said.
And when he saw Fieger recently, as he continued his fight with cancer, "he still had everything -- he had an unbelievable guitar collection," Fishman said.
Detroit native Jaan Uhelszki, a former editor at Creem magazine in Detroit who is now a music writer based on the West Coast, knew Doug Fieger when he had the band Sky, which predated The Knack.
"He had a radiant talent," she said.
"He was determined and pugnacious with big dreams, most of which he achieved."
And Detroit News columnist Laura Berman, who grew up next door to the Fiegers in Oak Park, said she never doubted Doug Fieger was headed for stardom.
"He was one of the most extraordinary people that I ever met," Berman said.
"He was the pied piper. He was so charismatic and admired that people would just follow him everywhere."
Fieger was always putting on dramatic productions -- staging his own funeral with his brother Geoffrey's help when he was about 10 and Samuel Beckett's theater-of-the-absurd classic "Waiting for Godot" in high school, she said.
"I'm more surprised that he wasn't a big star all his life than I am that he became a star," Berman said.
"He always felt destined for stardom and intent on making himself a star."
"Get the Knack" sold 6 million copies.
Fieger's ex-wife, Mia, helped care for him during his illness. In addition to his older brother, Geoffrey, survivors include his younger sister, Beth.
In one of the last interviews Fieger gave, he told columnist Neal Rubin of The News in January that he maintained a positive outlook even as he faced death.
"Everybody knows they're going sooner or later," he said.
"I don't know any better than anyone else when I'm going.
"I've had 10 great lives. And I expect to have some more. I don't feel cheated in any way, shape or form."
A memorial in Los Angeles for relatives and close friends is pending.
Staff writers Neal Rubin and Sue Whitall contributed. (313) 222-2069
Original Knack Drummer Bruce Gary also died of cancer in 2006. (kk)
One of the great power pop groups of the late 70's and early 80's lost their lead singer and creative force yesterday. Doug and the Knack had many great songs and unfortunately was labelled as one hit wonders with My Sharona. If anyone has the time to listen to their albums, you'll see that they covered many genres and paid tibunes to many artists by their sound alike songs (Buddy Holly, Brian Wilson). Doug has been sick with cancer for a few years and never completely recovered. Touring was down to a minimum but they were in Wisconsin last year ... unfortunately, I never had a chance to see them. -- The Dude
73 year-old Dale Hawkins lost his battle with colon cancer Saturday (February 13). He had been in a hospice in Little Rock, Arkansas since Tuesday.
Delmar Alan Hawkins was born in 1936 in Goldmine, Louisiana, a cousin (it's said) of Ronnie Hawkins. Dale made a name for himself in the clubs in Shreveport, Louisiana, where he played alongside artists like Johnny Horton and Merle Kilgore. It was at KWKH radio there in 1957 that Dale, with 15 year-old James Burton on guitar, recorded thelegendary "Susie Q." The "swamp pop" classic was leased to Checker Records in Chicago and got to #27, staying on the charts for 19 weeks. It's follow-up, "La-Do-Dada" the next year, topped at #32. And while Dale only charted two more times -- with "A House, A Car And A Wedding Ring" (#88 - 1958) and "Yea-Yea (Class Cutter)" (#52 - 1959), his legendary status had already been solidified. Dale went on to produce albums for the Five Americans, Jon And Robin & the In Crowd and the Uniques. He also was a vice-president at Aknak and Bell Records and hosted his own TV show in Philadelphia. His most recent album was 2007's "Back Down To Louisiana." Dale was named to the Louisiana Music and Rockabilly Halls of Fame and "Susie-Q" was named one of the 500 "Songs That Shaped Rock 'n' Roll" by the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame.
-- Ron Smith

Dale Hawkins passed away sometime over the weekend. I know you know his history: His last record was distributed by burnside who I work with. a very nice man - you will probably see something on the AP newswire sometime early this week.
Clay P
Music fans owe a great debt to Dale Hawkins if only for discovering guitarist James Burton! And "Susie-Q" was named one of the most important songs ever to help "shape" rock and roll. Of course it was also the break-through hit for Creedence Clearwater Revival, who added even MORE of a "swamp-beat" to Hawkins' tune in 1968. They followed up this hit single with a tune written by ANOTHER guy named Hawkins ... Screamin' Jay Hawkins to be exact ... and CCR's version of "I Put A Spell On Your" went to #58 before John Fogerty began writing the hits that would shape the rest of their career.