Twisted Sister: An Unpublished History
Snider’s bold—and surprisingly lucid—performance before the Senate helped to bolster his band’s flagging credibility, but in the end proved merely another instance of the image outshining the music. The rot had set in. Twisted Sister’s next album, 1985’s Come Out and Play, featured a minor hit single in a cover of “Leader of the Pack,” a song they had first recorded back in the Seventies, but overall was a critical and commercial disappointment. Their 1987 follow-up, Love Is For Suckers, barely registered on the music landscape, and it is open to debate how much of the band, other than Snider, even performs on it. Originally planned as a solo effort, management and Atlantic pressured Snider into making Suckers a Twisted Sister effort, but the final product is one in name only. A.J. Pero had left the band at that point, and was replaced by Joey Franco, whose drum tracks on the album were largely the result of programmed beats. Most egregiously, hotshot studio guitarist Reb Beach, who would soon gain fame playing with Winger, was credited with “additional guitars.” According to French, this is something of an understatement, as he claims that both he and Ojeda played very little, if at all, on the record.
“Dee made it clear he wasn’t happy with our abilities as musicians,” says French. “He and [producer] Beau Hill wanted a contemporary sound, which at that time meant shredding guitar solos, which is not what Eddie and I do. Reb was Beau’s go-to guy for all the records he produced, so our services weren’t really required.” Things got so bad that at one point French, the band’s founder and sole original member, alleges he was threatened with being fired from his own group. “But I didn’t even care that much,” he says. “I had a marriage that was falling apart simultaneously, I was dealing with a lot of other issues. I kind of said, it’s time to move on. It had been 15 years. I had played thousands of Twisted Sister shows. I was tired.”
“Throughout our career, Twisted had a horrible habit of never confronting one another with our problems,” says Snider. “We would go to management and bitch and moan, and they would basically put a band aid on it, but not treat the real wound. So over the years those wounds festered and basically developed into cancer. It wasn’t so easy to treat at that point, and everybody’s issues ran deep.”
A video was released for the single “Hot Love,” and a tour was launched in support of the album, but tickets sales were abysmal. Snider, who was no longer on speaking terms with French or Mendoza, made clear his intentions to leave the band, and after a show in Minneapolis in October, 1987, Twisted Sister simply came to a halt, mid-tour. “We could have finished it off, but there was no reason,” says French. “No one was even coming out to the shows. It just didn’t pay to keep going.” The band officially continued as a business entity until early 1988, but there was no farewell, no big send-off, no nothing. Twisted Sister exited the scene so quietly that few seemed to notice they were gone. For a band that had endured so much over its 15 years in existence, it was a tragically anti-climactic end.
Over the ensuing years only Snider remained in the public eye, first leading a pair of metal bands, Desperado and Widowmaker, and then emerging as a successful radio and television personality and screen writer, in particular for the 1998 horror movie Strangeland. The rest of the band members eventually picked up day jobs. French, who had managed Twisted Sister sporadically throughout their career, started up his own companies, French Management and Rebellion Entertainment, where he worked with artists like the nu-metal act Sevendust, while Mendoza found employment in law-enforcement. It wasn’t until 1996, when Snider and French reconciled after not speaking for almost a decade, that any signs of life in the Twisted Sister camp emerged, and even then the future looked tenuous. Over the next few years, the band played sporadically at special events, and recorded a new song, “Heroes Are Hard to Find,” for the soundtrack to Snider’s Strangeland—though they all tracked their parts separately, working at different times in the studio.
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