Category Archives: vh-1

Doug Fieger of The Knack Passes Away

Sad news yesterday as it was announced that Doug Fieger, lead singer of The Knack, passed away at the age of 57 after an extended battle with cancer.

The Knack burst onto the scene in 1979 with their debut album “Get the Knack” and the mega-hit of that year – “My Sharona.” I was just a teenager at the time and one of those dopey kids who was addicted to his radio, and took it with me everywhere. I loved music and was always running up and down the dial listening to whatever I could find. While “My Sharona” is now considered to be pop music by today’s standards – as someone who was there, let me tell you – it was everywhere. The single got equal massive play on not just the top 40 stations, but also the rock, disco (there were still a few left) and the R&B stations.

Back in those days of the dueling rock giants of Philadelphia, WMMR and WYSP used to have entire weekends dedicated to single musical groups. While Yes and Genesis often had to share the spotlight for a weekend, even though together they had dozens of albums to their credit – The Knack, with only one album, was featured with their own weekend on more than a few occasions. That is how big The Knack was.

Also, if you watch VH-1 with any regularity with their multiple nostalgia countdowns, they’ll tell you that The Knack was a one-hit wonder with “My Sharona.” Nothing could be farther from the truth. “Get the Knack” also featured the follow-up single “Good Girls Don’t,” which topped the request lines all during 1979 as well. The Knack’s second album “…But the Little Girls Understand,” borrowing from an old Doors lyric which itself borrowed from an even older blues tune, was one of 1980’s most anticipated albums. It only managed to put one single, “Baby Talks Dirty” on the charts however. From there, Doug Fieger and The Knack faded into obscurity.

They didn’t disappear completely though. Doug Fieger showed up by himself on the “Born to Laugh at Tornadoes” album by Was (Not Was) in 1983 doing lead vocals on two tracks. The Knack resurfaced briefly in 1991 with the rock single “Rocket O’ Love,” a song that I was quite fond of. “My Sharona” also popped back into the charts twice since its initial release after being used in movies.

Doug Fieger, and The Knack, were a major part of music in the 1980s, a slice of time in between the rock and disco of the 1970s and the new wave that was to come. Another rocker has passed on and will be missed.

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Woodstock ~ I had seen this once years ago, in an edited form, unfortunately, on a late night UHF channel. Hmmm, I guess that kinda indicates just how many years ago that was. But this is the first time I’ve seen the whole thing. Although, seeing how VH1 Classic is showing it in full frame, I guess you could say I’m really only seeing half of the whole film. The director’s use of split screen techniques makes this even more painful.

My first memory of the Woodstock film is a review in my big sister’s college newspaper called the Common Sense. It had the very cool and dated tagline of “You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows,” and over a decade later I would write for it, but that’s another story. The reviewer said that the guy who made the movie sure liked sunrises and sunsets, man, and that’s pretty much all he said. That stuck with me because I was confused, and because I thought Woodstock was about music.

And it is about the music. Early on, The Who’s music from “Tommy” and especially their version of “Summertime Blues” is electrifying and yet the later bit by Sha-Na-Na is just puzzling. Sly and the Family Stone, Ten Years After and Santana give good music, although I wonder if Sly was upset Roger Daltry was wearing the same outfit as he was. And of course the most inspiring moment was Jimi Hendrix playing the crowd awake with “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

Regarding Joe Cocker’s amazing performance of “With a Little Help from My Friends,” sometimes when someone does a parody of something, you tend to forget the original and only think of the parody. Trust me, after you see the real thing, you will forget John Belushi’s brilliant Joe Cocker imitation forever.

A positive perspective is kept throughout the film, even when things fall apart, which is probably for the best. Much effort is also put forth to illustrate what the experience of being there was about, something not often done with concert films. Woodstock was a logistic nightmare that worked out simply by serendipity – or peace and love, if you prefer. As has been proven more than once, this kind of thing could never happen again. This is a great time capsule to a happier simpler time, and an excellent concert film – and yeah, there are a lot of sunrises and sunsets, man.

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The Train Wreck Power of the Van Halen Press Conference

You know that feeling when you pass a car accident? That compulsion to look even though you don’t want to? That’s what any Van Halen press conference is all about. It seems like any time David Lee Roth gets back together with his old bandmates disaster ensues. I’m sure that, despite appearances, it will end that way again. Just wait.

The new/old line-up of Van Halen includes Eddie Van Halen, post rehab, a lot thinner and not seeming to crack a smile at all – yep, just what you want in a VH line-up, a man with no sense of humor. If you’re thinking he must be quite a fun dad, look no further than Wolfgang Van Halen, the offspring of Eddie and Valerie Bettinelli, who appears to have gained all the weight his dad has apparently lost. I’m betting Wolfie will be the first to bail, even before Roth. David Lee Roth on the other hand (nice toupee, Dave) will probably fight to stay as long as he can; he certainly has no chance in radio again. Alex Van Halen is probably still there because he has nothing better to do, and he doesn’t talk. All good points when it comes to his brother and band leader Eddie.

Notably missing is founding member Michael Anthony who one assumes is being punished for touring with ex-lead singer Sammy Hagar. Hagar is also persona non grata as are other former lead singers Gary Cherone, Ambush Bug and Squirrel Girl. No love lost with this band.

Watching this particular train wreck, I have to notice how much Dave talks too much, and how Eddie looks on disapprovingly throughout. Sooner or later, Dave’s chatterboxing, which was so endearing two decades ago, will make Eddie strangle him in my opinion. And have Alex and Wolfgang been trained by Eddie not to talk out of turn? Humorless drill sergeant Eddie makes Evel Dick on “Big Brother 8” look like father of the year. Surely I’m not the only one who watched this press conference waiting for the fistfight to break out? My goodness, this is just like Nascar!

Personally I give this version of the band to the end of the year tops.