Twister Sister-The End

Twisted Sister-The End

The Bands “40 & F@#! It” tour was the final chapter for Twisted Sister, ending 40 years with frontman Dee Snider… closing the book as one of metal’s quintessential live bands.

Founded in December 1972 by guitarist Jay Jay French,Twisted Sister’s growth on the local club scene was a slow one, but by late 1975 a somewhat stable lineup had formed around French, fellow guitarist and high school buddy Eddie “Fingers” Ojeda, bassist Kenneth Harrison Neil, and drummer Kevin John Grace. A number of different vocalists filed through their ranks, but it was the arrival of Dee Snider in early 1976 that the band grew in popularity. Snider brought a strong Alice Cooper like influence, giving their outdated sound a much needed kick in the ass. He also quickly developed (after being challenged by French and proving he could) as the band’s dominant songwriter, and with new drummer Tony Petri in tow, Twisted Sister really started making a name for themselves in and around the city.

Here are some interesting tid-bits of info you may not have known about Twisted Sister:

1) They didn’t consider themselves a “Glam” Rock Band – Although they used makeup and traditional glam clothing, Twisted Sister was always more a parody of glam than an actual glam band. Dee Snider is famously quoted as having said “I don’t think Twisted Sister is glam because that implies glamour. We should be called ‘hid’ because we’re hideous!”
2) Guitarist Jay Jay French auditioned for a precursor to Kiss – Lead guitarist Jay Jay French goes farther back into New York’s metal scene than many people realize. So far back, in fact, that he once auditioned for a band called Wicked Lester, fronted by a pair of fellow rockers named Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons. French stayed with Wicked Lester for a few months and had left the band when he was told (ironically) that they wanted to wear makeup on stage, and they later went on to become Kiss, with the guitarist who replaced French for the job, Ace Frehley.

3) The tragedy of 9/11 brought the band back together – After their split in 1987, various members of Twisted Sister stayed in touch. Reuniting briefly in 1998 to record a song for the soundtrack to Snider’s “Strangeland” movie, it took one of America’s greatest tragedies to coax the band back on stage together. All life long New Yorkers, the band was especially horrified by the events of September 11, 2001. When metal journalist Eddie Trunk put together a benefit concert called “New York Steel” November 28, 2001to benefit the widows and children of 9/11 first responders, Twisted Sister agreed to reunite for a one-time concert, and performed with Anthrax, Ace Frehley, Sebastian Bach and Overkill. The show raised close to $100,000 for the fund and the band found themselves enjoying it so much, they made the deal permanent.

The lineup we all know and love were with Dee, Jay Jay, Eddie, Mark Mendoza and A.J. Pero. Sadly A.J. passed away in 2015, and as not to disappoint fans and cancel concert dates the band decided to continue on by recruiting Mike Portnoy, (and personal friend of A.J.) to finish the “40 & F@#! It”tour.

I was able to interview frontman Dee Snider right after the bands final performance:

MD: “Now that Twisted Sister is finished touring – How did you feel knowing that November 12, 2016 was the very last show ever for TS?”

DS: “It’s bitter sweet, of course. While I love my band and don’t want to see it end, I know it can’t go on forever. Still performing at the level I always have at the age of 61(!) isn’t easy. I feel like I’m crossing a finish line and I’m happy to be crossing.”

MD: “Most memorable experience ever with Twisted Sister?”

DS: “There are so many. One for sure is getting our first gold album awards presented on stage at the Nassau Colosseum, the arena I used to see concerts at in front of a home town crowd.”

MD: “What are Jay Jay, Eddie and Mark going to be doing with their careers? Music? Business endeavors, etc.”

DS: “You will have to ask them. I know that without me the likelihood that they will continue with the band is slim and none. I wish them nothing but the best. I love all of those guys. They are my brothers…I mean, sisters!”

MD: “SMF’s want to know WHY you didn’t choose a New York Venue for the Very Last show ever for TS?”

DS: “This is the sad truth: of all the places we play in the world, the smallest crowds turn out for us in our own backyard. Everyone knows us and loves us, but it seems only a few are willing to actually take the time or spend any money to come and see us. Given the choice of playing for literally tens of thousands of people at huge venues around the world (Germany was 90,000) or a thousand or so people in the tri-state area, which would any of you pick? I’m not discrediting the diehard fans here at home, but when we can only do roughly a dozen farewell shows (due to other responsibilities), we need to do the biggest shows for the biggest dollars. If we were doing a long, full-blown tour, we could afford to do a small local show for the original fans. Unfortunately that wasn’t the case.”

MD: “How was the turnout and fan reactions for your official solo album “We Are The Ones” debut performance and release party on Oct. 28th at the HVAC Pub in Chicago?”

DS: “Well, first of all, I planned on having the album out before those shows, but it got pushed back. So I went out playing a set of almost completely unknown music. To quote my wife Suzette who was there, “They weren’t my people.” This said, a local revue said “while they weren’t fans of my musical past, I was pretty good and I rocked harder than people half my age.” I’ll take it!”

MD:” What are you naming your new band, and who are your touring band mates?”

DS: “This is my solo project (it’s just “Dee Snider” on the marquee), so the musicians are my backing band. This said, I always encourage them to perform and act like a band, which means everyone trying to steal the spotlight. That pushes me to work harder. My current band who are all top musicians in their field (and I hope they can continue on with me) are anything but “metal”. Damon Ranger is my producer, co-song writer and rhythm guitarist, Mark Shulman is on drums, Jullian Koryel is on lead guitar, and Tanya (that’s right, a girl) “TKO” O’Callaghan is on the bass. They are an amazing band and I’m lucky to have them all backing me up.”

I’m sure we will be seeing alot from the TS members in their future endevours. Full Throttle has always considered them part of our “family” because of all our charitable causes that they have supported, as well as our support for their causes. They may have said “F@#! It” to the band touring, but they haven’t said “F@#! It” to what they all love doing – and that will be the beginning of a new chapter for the generations of “SMF’s” to revel in.