The Oak Park, Michigan, native was a knockabout musician from his teen years, and got Rolling Stones and Traffic producer Jimmy Miller to work with his early group Sky. Fieger’s innovation with The Knack was 1.) to write neat, retro tunes with identifiable hooks in an era of pop musical excess, and 2.) to steer clear of the punk rock/new wave category where many similar musicians had congregated.
The Knack affected a wardrobe and performance style reminiscent of the early Beatles, and even signed to the Fab Four’s old label Capitol and performed at Carnegie Hall, where they played “A Hard Day’s Night” as an encore.
This went down a treat with audiences hungry for tight pop tunes but leery of the rougher-edged punk acts. The band’s debut album Get the Knack was a huge success, yielding the hits “My Sharona” and “Good Girls Don’t”; Weird Al parodied them.
Their moment was over quickly as other bands and labels began to catch on and supply music on a similar formula, but Fieger continued to write and produce for other acts until prevented by illness. His body is being waked in the Buddhist manner, and will afterward be cremated.