On 40th anniversary of Knack’s No. 1 hit, the real Sharona on fame, song’s longevity

Sharona Alperin today and on the cover of The Knack’s “My Sharona” in 1979. (Courtesy Sharona Alperin/Courtesy Capitol Records)

For the last 40 years, every time Sharona Alperin introduced herself, the response is either an off-key “m-m-m-my Sharona” or “You mean like the Knack song?’

Yes, exactly — she is the Sharona.

Four decades ago, on Aug. 25, 1979, “Get The Knack” was the No. 1 album on the Billboard 200, and “My Sharona” was No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot 100.

Before Sharona Alperin became a top real estate agent in Los Angeles, she was a household name — more precisely, a household first name.

At age 17, Alperin was the inspiration for one of popular music’s catchiest songs of all time, written by The Knack’s Doug Fieger.

She remembers the first time she heard “My Sharona.”

“I was working in a clothing store; that’s where I met Doug Fieger. He had invited me to come hear rehearsals. I went to a studio. Basically, I remember Doug asking the band, ‘Should we play it?’ and someone said, ‘Sure, let’s play it for her,'” Alperin told WTOP.

At the time, both Alperin and Fieger were involved in relationships.

Clearly, given the song’s lyrics of unrequited love — or at least lust — Fieger was smitten.

“He breathed me in, he used to tell people,” Alperin said, demonstrated by taking in lungs full of air. “He told me, not long after he met me, that he was absolutely in love with me, and we were going to be together, one day.”

The “My Sharona” single featured a photo of Alperin in a revealing-in-1979 sleeveless T-shirt and Levi’s, holding a copy of “Get The Knack.”

The album, on Capitol Records, featuring the band in black-and-white photos was evocative of 1964 — and controversial.

“Some people thought, ‘Are they trying to copy The Beatles?’ but it wasn’t that at all,” said Alperin. “They were just trying to be fun, and tongue-in-cheek, in homage to their favorite musicians.”

Alperin’s real estate website, mysharona.com, suggests she’s clearly comfortable with the fame generated by the song that bears her name.

“You’re talking about 40 years later, and the reaction is the same as it’s been, almost the entire time,” Alperin said.

She said she’s amazed by how many people younger than 40 are anxious to discuss where they first heard the song, or their fondness for the riff, written by Knack guitarist Berton Averre.

“From learning it on the piano, or drums, or guitar, and it still plays every single day on the radio,” said Alperin.

On the 40th anniversary, Alperin said it was bittersweet that Fieger — who died of cancer in 2010 — isn’t around to reflect on the album and song’s success.

“I don’t think he would be surprised,” Alperin said. “Fortunately, he did get a chance to enjoy that, but of course nothing’s sadder than him leaving this earth too early.”

“But I will say he lived life to the fullest,” Alperin said. “Rock ‘n’ roll, all the way.”

Neal Augenstein

Neal Augenstein has been a reporter at WTOP since 1997. Through the years, Neal has covered many of the crimes and trials that have gripped the region. Neal's been pleased to receive awards over the years for hard news, feature reporting, use of sound and sports.

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