This past Valentine’s Day, The Knack frontman Doug Fieger died at the age of 57 after a lengthy battle with brain and lung cancer. The power pop singer and guitarist was a dearly loved member of the Gibson family, and his passing has devastated fans around the world. Fieger’s death also elicited a very public Valentine from his former flame, Sharona. Yes, the Sharona.

Several decades after writing The Knack’s lusty breakout hit “My Sharona” about a teenager named Sharona Alperin, Fieger could still count the song’s namesake as one of his biggest fans. Alperin, who is now a Los Angeles real estate agent, released a heartfelt statement about Fieger on Tuesday.

“Doug Fieger wrote a song about me that changed both of our lives forever,” reads Alperin’s statement. “‘My Sharona’ became an iconic smash hit, and even though Doug and I didn’t end up together, we remained close friends through all these years. His searing wit, love of music and ability to recall the B side of any 45, his gift for making friends and keeping them for decades, and his incredible optimism in the face of the toughest challenge remained vital until the very end.”

Alperin was the inspiration behind The Knack’s “My Sharona,” which was the biggest American hit of 1979 and the cornerstone of the Reality Bites soundtrack in 1994. Fieger co-wrote the song about the then-teenaged Sharona, who was just 16 when Fieger, age 26, fell for her. The story goes that Alperin initially rebuffed Fieger, but then later dumped her boyfriend when Fieger mailed her a plane ticket, inviting her to meet him in Hawaii on tour. The couple stayed together for many years afterwards, even sharing a Los Angeles home.

“Since the song first hit the airwaves more than 30 years ago, whenever I meet someone new or give my name, the response is always the same, ‘Oh, Sharona, like ‘My Sharona?’” continues Alperin’s statement. “The fact that this continues to happen daily, no matter the person’s age, serves as a testament to the enduring impact of Doug’s amazing talent.”

The Knack had other hits in “Good Girls Don’t,” “She’s So Selfish” and “Frustrated,” and continued to release albums up until 2003.