Doug Fieger became an icon of new wave pop when the Knack's debut album Get the Knack and the smash single "My Sharona" took the charts by storm in 1979, but what few people knew at the time was that Fieger was a seasoned professional who had been making records for close to a decade before the Knack struck gold. Fieger was attending high school in the Detroit suburb of Oak Park when he formed his first band of note, Sky. Sky featured Fieger on bass and vocals, John Coury on guitar, keyboards, and vocals, and Robert Greenfield on drums and vocals, and the group's music was an ambitious fusion of straightforward rock & roll, folk-influenced melodies, and pop tunes that at once looked back to the sounds of the mid-'60s and forward to the power pop explosion of the mid-'70s.
Sky wasted no time making themselves known on Detroit's bustling music scene, and as well as headlining local club shows and sharing bills with Motor City heroes such as the Stooges, they opened for the likes of the Who, Jethro Tull, Traffic, the Jeff Beck Group, and Joe Cocker. Sky felt a special affinity for Traffic's music, and Fieger wrote a letter to Jimmy Miller, the British producer who had worked with Traffic as well as the Rolling Stones, the Spencer Davis Group, and Spooky Tooth, inviting Miller to check Sky out if he was ever in Detroit (Dave Mason gave Miller's address to the band after Sky opened for Traffic). Miller replied with a note saying, "If you'll pick me up at the airport, I'll come see your band." Sky eagerly agreed to give Miller a lift, and the producer liked them enough to sign them to his production company and help them land a record deal with RCA.
Miller, Gary Wright, and Andy Johns (best known for his work with Led Zeppelin) produced Sky's first album, Don't Hold Back, which was recorded at Olympic Studios in London and released in 1971. Don't Hold Back was well received but a poor seller, and by the time Sky recorded their second album, 1971's Sailor's Delight (also produced by Miller and Johns), Greenfield had left the trio and Rob Stawinski had signed on as their new drummer. Recorded in London and Los Angeles (the group had relocated to Southern California), Sailor's Delight was another solid album that failed to find an audience, and not long after it was released, Sky disbanded. Fieger went on to join the Carpenters' road band and worked with Triumvirat and the Sunset Bombers before hitting it big with the Knack. John Coury went on to a respected career as a sideman and studio musician, working with the Eagles, Don Henley, Rod Stewart, and Jude Cole. Rob Stawinski became a touring drummer with Badfinger and returned to the Detroit area, where he plays with local acts and produces music for industrial films and ad campaigns. ~ Mark Deming