Hard Rock, Pop/Rock
Hard Rock, Heavy Metal, Pop-Metal, Hair Metal
Rebellious, Aggressive, Brash, Raucous, Rowdy, Outrageous, Rambunctious
Twisted Sister is an American heavy metal band from Long Island, New York. Twisted Sister's most well-known hits include "We're Not Gonna Take It" and "I Wanna Rock". Many of the band's songs explore themes of parent vs. child conflicts and criticisms of the educational system.
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Twisted Sister is an American heavy metal band from New York City. Their work fuses the shock tactics of Alice Cooper, the rebellious mood of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, and the extravagant image of glam rock bands such as New York Dolls notably for the makeup. Musically, the band implements elements of traditional heavy metal bands such as Judas Priest, along with a style that is similar to early glam metal bands. The band is generally categorized as glam metal for their earlier work, although the band does not consider themselves to be so.
Although the band was formed by guitarist Jay Jay French in December 1972, all of their songs were written by Dee Snider from 1976 onward. Snider remarked to Johnny Carson that the proposed name for the band was "This" but was rejected for fear of fans saying "this sucks". He describes Twisted Sister as "Slade meets Sex Pistols". Twisted Sister's most well-known hits include "We're Not Gonna Take It" and "I Wanna Rock", both popularized by regular airplay on MTV in the 1980s. Many of the band's songs explore themes of parent vs. child conflicts and criticisms of the educational system.
History of Twisted Sister
Pre-Dee period (1972?1976)
Twisted Sister was formed in December 1972 by guitarist Jay Jay French under the name Silverstar. In February 1973 Silverstar changed its name to Twisted Sister. In 1975, Eddie "Fingers" Ojeda, a former high school friend of French, joined as co-lead singer and second guitarist. He had previously recorded with a New York City band called SPV. Kevin John Grace replaced Mel "Starr" Anderson on drums. Bass guitarist Kenny Neill (Kenneth Harrisson-Neill) completed the lineup. The band followed a glam rock direction, influenced by David Bowie, Slade, Mott the Hoople, Humble Pie, and New York Dolls. It played at local clubs without much success until 1976.
Club days (1976?1982)
In early 1976, Dee Snider joined the band as lead vocalist and principal songwriter. After replacing drummer Grace with Tony Petri, the group took a heavier musical direction, influenced by Mot?rhead, Black Sabbath, and Alice Cooper, but without abandoning its glam image.
Although glam was out of fashion in those days, Snider's phenomenal abilities as frontman propelled the band to considerable local success. It broke attendance records at large halls in the Tri-State Region and its growing fan base began to take the name "S.M.F.F.O.T.S.", for Sick Motherfucking Friends Of Twisted Sister, later shortened to "S.M.F." for "Sick Mother Fuckers." No record label was interested in signing the band, so in 1979 it released the single "I'll Never Grow Up Now" / "Under the Blade" on their own label, Twisted Sister Records, followed in 1980 by "Bad Boys (Of Rock & Roll)" / "Lady's Boy". Eddie Kramer produced both singles.
In this period, the group's membership changed. On October 31, 1978, Neill left the band, the band's roadie and friend, Mark "The Animal" Mendoza, formerly bassist for The Dictators, replaced him. In December 1980, Petri also left for the Plasmatics and was replaced briefly by Ritchie Teeter. Teeter, also formerly of The Dictators, was replaced in that band by Mel Anderson. In April 1981, Teeter was replaced by "Fast" Joey Brighton, who was in turn replaced by A.J. Pero from Cities, another unsigned band with local fame.
This lineup (Dee Snider, Jay Jay French, Eddie Ojeda, Mark Mendoza and A.J. Pero) recorded four studio albums and perform numerous live shows around the world.
Upon the suggestion of two reporters from Sounds and Kerrang! magazines, Twisted Sister left New York to find a label in the UK. There, in April 1982, it was finally signed by Secret Records, a small British label that was mainly a punk outlet.
Pre-MTV period (1982?1984)
In June 1982, the group released its first EP, Ruff Cuts, on the Secret Records label. This was followed shortly by their first studio album, Under the Blade, produced by Pete Way of UFO. Despite rather low production quality, the album was an underground hit in the UK, providing the band with sufficient name recognition to open for such metal acts as Mot?rhead. The album had an overall raw metal sound and included "Tear It Loose", a very fast speed metal song featuring a guitar solo by "Fast" Eddie Clarke of Mot?rhead. Another single, the future hit "We're Not Gonna Take It", was planned for release, but Secret Records went out of business before Snider was able to complete the lyrics. "We're Not Gonna Take It" later became one of its top singles.
Somewhere around this time, Twisted Sister updated its feminized image with a more grotesque look that distinguished them from other glam metal bands of the era. The group was now regarded more as a weird-looking heavy metal band because its look and music, although still reminiscent of pop/glam styles, were growing closer to heavy metal's leather and chains image.
After an appearance on the music TV program The Tube, Atlantic Records approached the band and signed them. Atlantic was one of the labels that had turned Twisted Sister down in the Club Days period. Their first LP under Atlantic, You Can't Stop Rock 'n' Roll, produced by Stuart Epps, was released in 1983 and included the UK #19 hit "I Am (I'm Me)". From a production standpoint, the album sounded better than its predecessor, and it was every bit as heavy. Upon the success of the album the company decided to promote the band more heavily. A music video was made for the title track of You Can't Stop Rock'n'Roll, which was to become the first of a series of comedic videos that popularized the band.
MTV videos (1984?1985)
International fame came for Twisted Sister when the band's third LP, Stay Hungry, hit the stores on May 10, 1984. The album was a little more commercial-sounding than the first two, owing to Tom Werman's production, but it still included heavy songs such as the title track and "Burn in Hell". During a very successful tour, a young Metallica supported the band. Stay Hungry sold more than two million copies by the summer of 1985, and went on to sell more than three million in subsequent years. It remains the band's biggest success and is considered a classic among heavy metal fans.
Videos of hit singles "We're Not Gonna Take It" (a #21 hit in the US) and "I Wanna Rock" (US #68) ran almost constantly on MTV. Their pervasive slapstick comedy proved a change of pace for the genre and gave the band a distinctive appeal. The acclaimed surreal comedy film Pee-wee's Big Adventure took this further with the band having an appearance making a fictional video for "Burn In Hell" on the Warner Bros. backlot only to be interrupted by Pee-wee Herman passing through. Despite being comedic in nature, the videos featured violence against parents and teachers, which placed the band under heavy criticism by conservative organizations. They were singled out by the PMRC in 1985. Twisted Sister songs "Under the Blade" and "We're Not Gonna Take It" were specifically mentioned in the associated Senate hearings. Snider was one of the few musicians to testify before a Senate committee in these hearings on September 19, 1985. (He was addressed formally by the committee counsel as "Mr. Sister".)
Decline and fall (1985?1987)
On November 9, 1985, the band released its fourth studio album, Come Out and Play, produced by Dieter Dierks. It was not nearly as successful as its predecessor, although it did earn the band a gold album for sales of 500,000 copies. Some speculate that the failure was partly due to MTV banning the video for "Be Chrool to Your Scuel" on the grounds that it was offensive. The song featured such guests as Alice Cooper (who also appeared in the video), Brian Setzer, Clarence Clemons and Billy Joel. The tour supporting the album was a near fiasco, with low attendance and many cancelled dates. Not even Atlantic's re-release of a remixed Under the Blade helped the band recover its popularity. Come Out and Play was one of the first CDs to go out of print.
After the tour, Pero left to rejoin Cities. He was replaced by ex-Good Rats drummer Joey "Seven" Franco. The nickname "Seven" comes from his being the band's seventh drummer.
In 1987, Snider embarked on a solo project, reportedly approaching future Iron Maiden guitarist Janick Gers, but this did not work out. He then recorded an album with Franco programming the drum machine and featuring several session musicians such as Reb Beach on guitar, Kip Winger (just before he formed Winger) and Steve Whiteman of Kix. Atlantic Records refused to release it unless it was labeled as a Twisted Sister album. So, on August 13, 1987 Love Is for Suckers made its debut. Although the band had not played in the recording sessions, it was mentioned on the album cover as if they had, and they did play some of the songs in subsequent shows. Beau Hill's production gave the album a very polished pop metal sound. The band's members had also removed the makeup that they had been wearing since their early days. Commercially, the album was a complete failure and many of their metal fans were disappointed with the pop sound.
On October 12, 1987, almost two months after the release of Love Is For Suckers, Snider left the band, the record label canceled its contract, and Twisted Sister disbanded. The public announcement of the band's demise came in January 1988.
Separation period (1987?1997)
After the band's break-up, former members were involved in different projects:
Dee Snider formed Desperado, Widowmaker, and SMFs. He also wrote, directed and starred in the movie Strangeland. A sequel, Strangeland 2, is planned.
Eddie Ojeda went on to join Scarecrow and then formed Prisoners of War. Both projects were unsuccessful. He also worked as a session guitarist and guitar instructor.
Jay Jay French stopped performing except for some guest appearances. He formed French Management and produced the alternative metal band Sevendust albums.
Mark Mendoza briefly joined Blackfoot. Then he worked as a producer and manager. He also occasionally pursued solo projects.
A.J. Pero was involved in several projects and subsequently toured with Snider's SMFs.
Joey Franco worked as a session drummer and played with Snider's Widowmaker.
In 1992, Atlantic Records, released a "best of" album Big Hits and Nasty Cuts that also featured some live performances from the Under The Blade period. This album was compiled by Jay Jay French. A live album from the Stay Hungry era named Live At Hammersmith was released in 1994 by CMC International.
Reunions and reissues (1997?present)
Twisted Sister in Sweden in 2007
In 1998, the band recorded a song for the soundtrack of Snider's movie Strangeland.
In 1999, Spitfire Records re-issued the group's back catalog, supplemented with previously unreleased tracks. This was followed by Club Daze Volume 1: The Studio Sessions, an album containing demo recordings from the pre-Under the Blade era, and Club Daze Volume 2: Live In The Bars, a live counterpart.
In 2001, Koch Records released a tribute album under the name Twisted Forever: A Tribute To The Legendary Twisted Sister. The album featured a wide range of artists and bands who had been influenced by Twisted Sister, including Lit, Mot?rhead, Chuck D, Anthrax, Overkill, Cradle of Filth, Joan Jett, Sebastian Bach, and Hammerfall. Oddly for a tribute album, Twisted Sister was also present with a cover of AC/DC's "Sin City".
In November 2001, the reunited Twisted Sister joined fellow New York metal artists Anthrax, Overkill, Sebastian Bach, and Ace Frehley to headline a benefit concert for NYPD and FDNY Widows and Orphans Fund in the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center. New York Steel raised over $100,000 for the charity, and the reaction to the first Twisted Sister set in 14 years was overwhelming. The demand for more live dates was immediate, and the band took the first steps toward returning to the concert stage.
In 2002, a remastered "best of" compilation named Essentials was released. Fans generally consider this to be a better compilation than the one previously issued by Atlantic.
Twisted Sister, this time including Mark Mendoza, reunited again for the Sweden Rock Festival in June 2003. They also appeared in August of that same year at the Wacken Open Air festival. Footage from that show was filmed for a DVD release, which featured former Violent Apathy and Spite member, Tom Fuller.
In March 2004, they entered the studio to completely re-record their Stay Hungry album for Demolition Records. They reported that they were not happy with the original album's production, so this time they produced it themselves. The re-recording was released under the name Still Hungry and contained seven bonus tracks.
In July 2005, the group played a free concert in Edmonton for the Klondike Days festival. In late 2005, Snider appeared on Numbers from the Beast: An All-Star Tribute to Iron Maiden, performing vocals for the Iron Maiden classic "Wasted Years". Snider was joined by his contemporaries and peers George Lynch, formerly of Dokken, and Bob Kulick.
Also in 2005, the band released the 2003 Wacken show on CD and DVD simply titled Live And Wacken. It also went on tour with Alice Cooper, acting as the support band but delivering a set similar to a headliner's.
In 2006, Snider and French worked with Lordi to produce and play on a few tracks on their new album Arockalypse. Snider was featured on the first track, "SCG3 Special Report", as the voice of Lordi warning of the upcoming Arockalypse. French guest starred on the song "Chainsaw Buffet".
In June 2006, the band announced that they had signed with the American record label Razor and Tie to release a final CD, of heavy metal Christmas music called A Twisted Christmas. The CD was released on , 2006, and was a commercial success.
On , 2006, Twisted Sister played in front of 80,000 people in Quebec City, Canada. The show also featured Scorpions as the headliner. It also played a small concert at the Wolverhampton Civic Center. The concert was a success, with many fans hailing it as just the same as Twisted Sister at their prime.
The group is still together and occasionally makes small tours around the world, in full makeup. Before each of these mini-tours, it performs as Bent Brother, practising its set and appearing without makeup, usually at reduced ticket prices, although Snider and French have both voiced the opinion that they do not enjoy playing as Twisted Sister.
Twisted Sister was inducted into the Long Island Music Hall of Fame on October 15, 2006.
On December 13, 2006, Twisted Sister made an appearance on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. The group performed their rock version of "O Come All Ye Faithful" which is arranged in the style of "We're Not Gonna Take It".
On December 22, 2006, Twisted Sister appeared on CBS's The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, performing its rock version of "O Come All Ye Faithful".
On a recent episode of Dee Snider's syndicated radio program "The House of Hair", Dee stated that due to the success of the Christmas album and also due to the response to the tour promoting the album that Twisted Sister might not retire, and the band's future was being discussed.
C.C. Banana interviewed Jay Jay French, stating that Twisted Sister will continue. The band is currently working on a DVD.
On July 15, 2007, Twisted Sister performed at glam metal festival Rocklahoma.
Twisted Sister's famous "I Wanna Rock" was featured in the game Guitar Hero Encore: Rocks the 80s as a playable song (instead of being a cover like several songs featured in the game, it was the version from the 2004 remake of their classic album Stay Hungry, titled Still Hungry).
In 2008, Dee Snider appeared on the CMT television show Gone Country.
On February 25, 2008 Twisted Sister performed at "Aftermath - The Station Fire 5 years later" in Providence, Rhode Island.
On May 10, 2008 Twisted Sister performed a free concert at the Bulgarian town Lovech. On July 13, 2008 Twisted Sister performed at Snatch Rock n Roll Lounge, in Calgary, Alberta. On September 1, 2008 Twisted Sister performed at the Rock The Bayou Festival in Houston, Texas.
Even though they said a Twisted Christmas was their last album, they are releasing a new album in 2009. The songs on this album will feature in Twisted Christmas the Musical; the musical will also feature their greatest hits and the Twisted Christmas songs. The musical will feature on Broadway this year in 2009.
Former Alice Cooper Group band members Michael Bruce , Dennis Dunaway , Neal Smith, Mick Mashbir, and Mike Marconi are working with Dee Snider in recording a new song rumored to be a cover of Halo of Flies and/or Desperado.
For more details on this topic, see Twisted Sister band members.
Dee Snider ? lead vocals (1976?1987, 1997-present)
Eddie Ojeda ? lead guitars (1975?1987, 1997-present)
Jay Jay French ? rhythm guitars, backing vocals (1972?1987, 1997-present)
Mark Mendoza ? bass, backing vocals (1978?1987, 1997-present)
A. J. Pero ? drums, percussion (1982?1986, 1997?present)
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Oyster Bay, New York, United States
Music Genre (Text)
Heavy metal, hard rock, shock rock
1972–1989, 2003–present, (reunions: 1997, 2001, 2002)
Secret, Atlantic, Spitfire, Razor & Tie
Scarecrow (band), Van Helsing's Curse, Widowmaker, Desperado, Magellan, The Plasmatics, Hammerhead, Cities, The Dictators, Motionless in White, SPX
Jay Jay French, Eddie "Fingers" Ojeda, Dee Snider, Mark "The Animal" Mendoza, A. J. Pero
Past Group Members
Rick Esposito, Kenny Neill, Mel Anderson, Wayne Brown, Michael O'Neill, Billy Stiger, Keith Angelino, Frank Karuba, Kevin John Grace, Tony Petri, Ritchie Teeter, Joey Brighton, Walt Woodward III, Joey Franco