“My Sharona” (/ʃəˈroʊnə/) is the debut single by the Knack. The song was written by Berton Averre and Doug Fieger, and it was released in 1979 from their debut album, Get the Knack. It reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart, where it remained for six weeks, and was number one on Billboard‘s 1979 Top Pop Singles year-end chart.
It was certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America, representing 500,000 copies sold, and was Capitol Records‘ fastest gold status debut single since the Beatles‘ “I Want to Hold Your Hand” in 1964. It has since gone on to sell more than 10 million copies as of 2010.
When Doug Fieger was 25 years old, he met 17-year-old Sharona Alperin, who inspired a two-month-long run of songwriting, as well as eventually becoming his girlfriend for the next four years. Fieger recounted that “It was like getting hit in the head with a baseball bat; I fell in love with her instantly. And when that happened, it sparked something and I started writing a lot of songs feverishly in a short amount of time.” Fieger and Averre worked out the structure and melody of the song. Averre was originally averse to using Alperin’s name in the song, but Fieger wanted it to be a direct expression of his feelings; Averre ultimately relented. Fieger claimed that “My Sharona” was written in 15 minutes; moreover, it was purportedly mixed in an additional 15 minutes after the recording of the song was made in a single take (not including background vocals).
Fieger and Alperin were engaged at one point but never married. In a 2005 interview, Fieger said that they remained “great friends”; additionally, she would visit him frequently as Fieger was dying of cancer. Alperin went on to have a successful career as a realtor in Los Angeles.
Music and lyrics
The music of the song echoes many elements of songs from the 1960s. According to a Trouser Press reviewer, the song’s main melodic hook is “an inversion of the signature riff” from “Gimme Some Lovin’“, a 1966 song by the Spencer Davis Group. Fieger acknowledged that the song’s tom-tom drum rhythm is “just a rewrite” of “Going to a Go-Go“, a song from Smokey Robinson and the Miracles from 1965. Drummer Bruce Gary has stated that although he did not particularly like the song when Fieger introduced it to the band, he came up with the stuttering beat for the song similar to a surf stomp, with just tom-tom and snare. He also decided to incorporate a flam, in which two drum strokes are staggered, creating a fuller sound, which Gary considered to be crucial to the song’s success.
In an interview with The Washington Post, Fieger claimed that the song was written from the perspective of a 14-year-old boy.
In addition to being the inspiration for the song, Sharona Alperin posed for the single’s picture sleeve holding a copy of the Knack’s debut studio album Get the Knack.
Produced by Mike Chapman, the song’s clean sound was also reminiscent of the sound of the 1960s British Invasion. Billboard Magazine described “My Sharona” as “an energetic raker with a subtle melody.”Dick Nusser of Billboard remarked on the song’s “catchy, deliberately awkward, stop-go drum and guitar breaks”, its “quirky lyrics” and “suggestive tone”, and that the song will “make you ready, willing and able to hum the refrain at the right moment.”Cash Box said it begins with “slamming drums and rock steady, building guitar work.”In the Pazz & Jop 1979 Critic’s Poll, “My Sharona” and Fleetwood Mac‘s “Tusk” were tied for sixth place in the list of top singles of the year.
Chris Woodstra of AllMusic has subsequently referred to the song as an “unforgettable hit.” The New Rolling Stone Album Guide claimed that the song “was a hit for a good reason. The beat is urgent, the chorus calls out for drunken shouting along and the guitar solo is a firecracker flash.”
The New York Times called the song “an emblem of the new wave era in rock and a prime example of the brevity of pop fame.”
In 2008, “My Sharona” was ranked in two Billboard 50th anniversary charts. It ranked 75 on the Billboard Hot 100 All-Time Top Songs and 16 on the Top Billboard Hot 100 Rock Songs.
In 1994, “My Sharona” re-entered the Billboard Hot 100 chart and peaked at number 91, when it was released as part of the Reality Bites soundtrack album. In the film itself, the characters dance to the song at a convenience store. This version was remixed by Dave Jerden and features, among other changes, a much more prominent drum sound.
During the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, Averre, together with The Knack bassist Prescott Niles released a guitar solo instruction video, in response to the many parodies of the song which had appeared during the pandemic.
In 2023, Berton Averre calculated to receive between $100,000 and $300,000 annually from his royalties for the song.
Sales and certifications
|Canada (Music Canada)||Platinum||150,000^|
|United Kingdom (BPI)||Gold||400,000‡|
|United States (RIAA)||Gold||1,000,000^|
|^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.
‡ Sales+streaming figures based on certification alone.