Formed in New Jersey in 1973 (and originally called Silverstar) Twisted Sister signed to an unknown German label in the 70s, and following a one-off independent single, I’ll Never Grow Up, this troupe of metal mavericks in mascara decided to try their luck on the other side of the pond.
Releasing the EP Ruff Cuts in the summer of 82, they began gigging around London to good reactions.
A few months later they released their debut album, Under The Blade which although a pale reflection of their live sound, was accompanied by an infamous appearance on Channel 4 music TV show The Tube and a celebrated performance at the Reading Festival. This was enough to attract major label interest from Atlantic.
Twisted Sister zoomed into the lounge rooms of Britain via a Top Of The Pops appearance singing The Who‘s I Am (I’m Me), with Dee Snider (pictured) looking like a second-rate Bette Midler impersonator from hell.
The single made the UK Top 20 in 1983, as did the accompanying album You Can’t Stop Rock ‘n’ Roll. The band finished the year with another show-stopping performance at that year’s Monsters Of Rock Festival.
Up until this point, America had been largely oblivious to the group, although they began to take notice with the release of Stay Hungry in 1984 with its three-chord anthem single, We’re Not Gonna Take It.
The album made the US Top 20 (and the single narrowly missed) – It looked as if Twisted Sister were about to clean up in the US but it all went horribly wrong as the next album Come Out And Play (1985) languished in the lower reaches of the charts, and a headlining tour suffered poor attendances.
The band attempted a comeback in 1987 with Love Is For Suckers, which fared equally badly and the band were dropped from the label and promptly split up.
The American ‘Moral Majority‘ also attacked Twisted Sister as one of the bands responsible for corrupting young teenagers. The charge brought against the band was thrown out of court.
Dee Snider had a few attempts at other bands (and a solo career) before ending up working as a DJ for a radio station in Hartford, USA – He always did have a great face for radio.
Twisted Sister eventually became the rock & roll equivalent of an SAS raid: they would fly in to make the occasional one-off festival appearance, nonchalantly firebomb the entire site, be acclaimed by all and sundry to be ‘band of the day’ and then promptly disappear until next time.
Drummer A.J. Pero died in March 2015, at the age of 55. He had left in 1987, after the tour in support of Come Out and Play. But he rejoined the group after it reunited in 1997 and had been a member ever since.
Jay Jay French
A.J. (Anthony Jude) Pero