FM radio dials everywhere were turned down halfway on Valentine's Day in honor of Doug Fieger, The Knack frontman who brought the world the unstoppable new wave hit "My Sharona," who passed away that day of lung cancer.
In memory of the rocker, I caught up with his ex-girlfriend and inspiration for the legendary track, Sharona Alperin, a few days after his untimely passing. In an exclusive interview, Alperin fills UsMagazine.com in on his life and their joint legacy.
Us: Tell me about Doug's death.
SA: I was with him this past weekend so I was there along with a group of people that were there [when he died]. I have stayed in touch with him all these years, but in the last few months...I sort of knew that maybe his time was gonna come. I can't believe he's gone. It's amazing how he impacted my life. What [the song] connection did for us and for popular music and the history of rock 'n roll is pretty amazing.
Us: How did he come to write the song about you?
SA: Basically, we were both in relationships when we met. I was maybe 16, 17, he was about 9 years older than me and was introduced to me at that time by a girlfriend. When he met me, I remember him gasping. And before you knew it, he told me that he was in love with me. He ended that relationship, but it took me one year to leave my relationship. And in that time he wrote many songs -- "Frustrated," "She's So Selfish," a lot of songs on the first Knack album. He just thought I was his soul mate.
Us: What ended up happening with you guys?
SA: I ended up leaving my boyfriend and went around the world, as a teenager, with The Knack, for four years. I saw them play "My Sharona" in many countries and saw people reacting to it. I'm on the cover of the single and the second Knack album and when I would go to concerts, people would be dressed up...as "A Sharona." Not everyone even knew that 'Sharona' was a person's name. It was an incredible experience and it was all by the time I was 21. Doug pursued me for a year until I finally broke up with my boyfriend. We were together for four years.
Us: You kept in touch since the breakup?
SA: Definitely. And on his passing this weekend, on his deathbed, some of his favorite idols were there visiting him. It was just amazing to see because all he ever did was love music. He was one of those true virtuosos, like a walking encyclopedia of rock ‘n roll.
Us: How were Doug's spirits during his brave battle?
SA: He had lung cancer that spread to his brain. He had a lot of surgeries...he's been through a lot. Even in his last minutes he was still concerned with his voice not getting affected. It's shocking that the guy who wrote "My Sharona" is not with us any more. I think the song is a true testament of his impact on music.
Us: Do you find it tough to listen to the song now that he's gone?
SA: Doug Fieger wrote a song about me that changed both of our lives forever. "My Sharona" became an iconic smash-hit, and even though Doug and I didn't end up together we remained close friends all these years just sharing wit -- because he was so bright and so smart. He had a love of music, and the ability to recall the b-side of any 45 and had a gift for making friends and keeping them for decades. His incredible optimism remained until the very end.
For more on Sharona Alpern, visit mysharona.com.