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Twisted Sister Biography

Home > Music > T > Twisted Sister > Biography

Birth Place: New York City, United States
Years Active: 1972–1988, 1997–present
Genres: Heavy Metal, Glam Metal, Hard Rock

Twisted Sister is an American Heavy metal band from Long Island. Musically the band implements elements of traditional heavy metal bands such as Iron Maiden and 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.

After its initial formation, the band spent several years performing live in various clubs throughout New York City. The band followed a glam rock direction, influenced by David Bowie, Slade, Mott the Hoople, Rolling Stones, and New York Dolls. It played at local clubs but floundered in relative anonymity. By 1976 Dee Snider had joined the band and their popularity began to soar. After selling out the Palladium theater in NYC without a record deal, they began aggressively pursuing a recording contract and get out of the club circuit.

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 U.K.

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 their early 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 U.K. #19 hit “I Am (I'm Me).” A music video was made for the title track, which was to become the first of a series of comedic videos that popularized the band.

International fame came for Twisted Sister when the band's third LP, “Stay Hungry,” hit stores in May 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.” “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. Videos of singles “We're Not Gonna Take It” a #21 hit in the U.S. and “I Wanna Rock” ran almost constantly on MTV. Their pervasive slapstick comedy proved a change of pace for the genre and gave the band a distinctive appeal.

In November 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 certification.

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 featuring several session musicians such as Reb Beach on guitar and Kip Winger (just before they formed Winger) and Steve Whiteman of Kix. Atlantic Records refused to release it unless it was labeled as a Twisted Sister album. So, in August 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.

In October 1987, almost two months after the release of “Love Is For Suckers,” Snider left the band, the record label cancelled its contract, and Twisted Sister disbanded. The public announcement of the band's demise came in January 1988.

In 1998, the band reunited to record 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.

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, Motörhead, 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.

Twisted Sister, this time including Mark Mendoza, reunited again for the Sweden Rock Festival in June 2003. 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.