Twisted Sister: An Unpublished History
Over the next few years, Twisted Sister developed into one of the preeminent club acts in the Tri-State area. The band was playing upwards of 250 shows a year, often multiple sets each night, to a growing legion of fans that they dubbed the Sick Motherfuckers, or SMF’s. Onstage, they played the role of hell-raising, hard-living rock and rollers, but in reality the band functioned with a high level of discipline. “This was the drill,” says French. “We would get to the bars at six in the evening to do our sound check, then we’d have dinner and wait to go onstage. We’d play the set—or sets—hang out a bit, load out the gear and get home around six in the morning. We’d sleep until one or two in the afternoon, wake up, maybe rehearse, run some errands and then get in our car and drive to the gig. That was what we did every single day, for years. Nothing ever changed.”
By late 1976 the band was doing well enough to rent a house in Massapequa, on Long Island. “We were making so much money in the clubs that we found this nice place in an upper-class area, with central air and a pool,” says Snider. But in keeping with the no-nonsense attitude with which they conducted their lives, the house was far from the debauched sex-and-drugs-den one would have expected. “I think we threw one party at that house, a fourth of July thing that almost got us all arrested,” says French. “And I remember joking around with Dee, saying, ‘We should smoke a joint so that we can at least tell people we’ve done drugs. That wasn’t our thing. We didn’t party—we played.”
That staunch work ethic was paying off. By 1978 the band, now with ex-Dictators—and former Twisted Sister roadie—Mark “The Animal” Mendoza on bass (Kenneth Harrison Neill abruptly quit after announcing he had become a born-again Christian), was pulling in anywhere from two to five thousand people per show, playing consistently at venues like Hammerheads in West Islip, Long Island, the Gemini in Westchester, New York and the Fountain Casino in Aberdeen, New Jersey. In addition, Snider had begun to find his voice as a songwriter, and Twisted Sister’s sets were now comprised of larger amounts of original material, including Dee-penned anthems like “I’ll Never Grow Up, Now!” and “Bad Boys (Of Rock ’N’ Roll)”—hooky pop-metal tunes that were perfect for rousing a crowd and inspiring sing-alongs.
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