“My Sharona” is the debut single by the Knack. The song was written by Berton Averre and Doug Fieger, and released in 1979 from their album Get the Knack. It reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart where it remained for 6 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 one million copies sold, and was Capitol Records’ fastest gold status debut single since the Beatles’ “I Want to Hold Your Hand” in 1964.
The characteristic riff of “My Sharona” was created by the band’s lead guitarist, Berton Averre, years before he joined the Knack. Averre subsequently played the riff, as well as a drum groove, for Doug Fieger, the group’s lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist, who greatly admired it and promised to include it in a composition, although he did not have any ideas for the lyrics.
When Fieger was 25 years old, he met 17-year-old Sharona Alperin, who inspired a two-month-long run of songwriting, as well as becoming Fieger’s 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.
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 1967 song by the Spencer Davis Group. Fieger has 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 didn’t 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. 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 noted that the song was written from the perspective of a 14-year-old boy.
The song’s stuttering vocal effect of the repeated “muh muh muh my Sharona” phrase is reminiscent of Roger Daltrey’s vocals in the 1965 song “My Generation” by the Who.
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 album Get the Knack.
The song’s clean production sound was also reminiscent of the sound of the 1960s British Invasion. Dick Nusser of Billboard Magazine 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.” 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 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.
In 2005, the song gained some attention when it appeared on the playlist of U.S. President George W. Bush’s iPod.
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 video games, “My Sharona” is featured as a downloadable content single for the Rock Band series. On March 1, 2011, an updated version of the cover song was made available to download for use in Rock Band 3 in PRO mode which takes advantage of the use of a real guitar / bass guitar, along with standard MIDI-compatible electronic drum kits / keyboards in addition to up to three-part harmony vocals. The original version of the song, along with its music video, is featured on Lips: Party Classics on Xbox 360.
In films, the song was heard in the 1997 Disney film Rocket Man, the trailer for Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle, in J.J. Abrams’ Super 8, and in Richard Linklater’s Everybody Wants Some!!.
Sharona Alperin, who was the inspiration for the hit, had been a major booster for the band, and brought many girls to their early shows. She has since become a real estate agent in the Los Angeles area, and uses the domain name mysharona.com for her business.