Twisted Sister: Metal Meltdown - 'Live At The Hard Rock Casino Las Vagas' - (A tribute to A.J. Pero)
You will be missed you S.M.F.!!!!
Dee Snider - vocals
Jay Jay French - guitar (lead)
Eddie Ojeda - guitar (lead)
Mark 'The Animal' Mendoza - bass
Mike Portney - drums
A.J. Pero - drum solo
1.) "What You Don't Know"
2.) "The Kids Are Back"
3.) "Stay Hungry"
4.) "The Beast"
5.) "Shoot ‘Em Down"
6.) "You Can't Stop Rock 'N' Roll"
7.) "I Believe In Rock ‘N' Roll"
8.) "Under The Blade"
9.) "I Am (I'm Me)"
10.) "We're Not Gonna Take It"
11.) "The Fire Still Burns"
12.) "The Price"
13.) "Burn In Hell"
A.J. Pero Tribute (this was an old A.J. drum solo)
14.) "I Wanna Rock"
15.) "Come Out and Play"
16.) "S.M.F." (performed while the credits was playing)
The band Silver Star, soon to be renamed to Twisted Sister, was formed after John Segall (later renamed to "Jay Jay French") was added following auditions in the "band house" located in Ho-Ho-Kus, New Jersey in late December 1972. Manhattan resident John Segall auditioned and was asked to join the "glitter band" Silver Star. Silver Star was the creation of the drummer Mel Anderson (Mell Star) as the "New Jersey version of the NY Dolls", consisting of Billy Diamond (lead guitar), Wayne Brown (lead vocal and guitar), Tony Bunn (bass), Steve Guarino (keyboards). At the same time as Silver Star/Twisted Sister was created, Mell Star's brother, Al Anderson, was the guitar player for Bob Marley and the Wailers. Segall hated the name "Silver Star" and pushed to have it changed. At a rehearsal on Valentine's Day in February 1973, Silver Star changed its name to Twisted Sister. Wayne and Mel were so excited about the new name that, as soon as rehearsal ended, they went directly from Mel Andersen's house in Montclair, NJ to the band's Manager's office in West Orange, NJ, and barged in to make the announcement. Along with the name change came some stylistic changes that eventually resulted in an amicable parting of ways for some members. Wayne Brown left the band a few months later; Tony Bunn and Steve Guarino followed soon thereafter. Micheal Valentine took over the lead singer role, guitarist Billy Diamond, drummer Mell Star, bass player Kenneth Harrison Neill, and Johnny Heartbreaker (soon to change his name to Jay Jay French).
The band found work immediately and started playing six nights a week (mostly in the same club for the entire week). The group secured a residency at the Mad Hatter in East Quogue, NY for the summer of 1973 and played 105 nights from Memorial Day to Labor day. The band played 78 shows there and played at other places as well. By December 1974, when this first version of the band broke up, Jay Jay had already played nearly 600 nights and about 3,000 performances as the band played five 40-minute shows per night, each with costume changes, some ending as late as 8 a.m. the following morning. The second version of the band changed lead singers (Rick Prince) and guitar player (Keith Angel) and continued for a couple of months into 1975 before singer Rick Prince failed to show up for a rehearsal. In the third lineup change, Jay Jay took over the lead vocals and management duties. The band split up after Labor Day weekend 1975. In October 1975 the fourth version of the band started to play the club circuit. Jay Jay hired a former high school friend of Eddie Ojeda, who joined as co-lead singer and second guitarist, and got drummer Kevin John Grace after reading an ad that Kevin put in the Village Voice. Bass guitarist Kenny Neill (Kenneth Harrison Neill) remained and completed the lineup. The band followed a glam rock direction, influenced by David Bowie, Slade, Mott the Hoople, the Rolling Stones, and the New York Dolls. It played at local clubs but floundered in relative anonymity. Many former band members were fired or left the band and had some issues with the other members like Jay Jay French.
In February 1976, at the suggestion of the band's agent, Kevin Brenner, Jay Jay was told that the band could only go so far without being able to play Led Zeppelin cover songs and urged Jay Jay to hire Danny Snider (Dee Snider) who previously was in the bands Peacock and Heathen. Danny changed his name to Dee at the suggestion of Jay Jay and thus began TS line up number six. This version lasted 6 weeks before version seven began on April 1, 1976 with new drummer Tony Petri, the group took a heavier musical direction, influenced by Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, Slade, and Alice Cooper.
At this point, the band's popularity began to soar as the band, especially Dee and Jay Jay, started to talk (rap) to the audience about current topics of the day between songs. These raps started to take on a life of their own and pretty soon the band could get away with playing one song per set and talk the rest of the time.
The band decided to play a heavy metal sound in 1978 where the group began to record its demos.
Having audience participation in the "Sweet Jane Gong Show" and the "Death to Disco" stage routines became legendary. The band broke attendance records at large halls in the Tri-State Area 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." NME reported that Twisted Sister had sold out the 3,000 capacity New York Palladium for a March 16 show without a recording contract or radio airplay. Fan hysteria and the seemingly "lost art of entertainment" soon became the hallmark of a TS show.
After selling out the Palladium theater, the group began aggressively pursuing a recording contract, with an aim to get out of the club circuit before its impending collapse due to the upcoming change of the drinking age from 18 to 21. The band then had a record deal with Secret Records.
The band went though 3 more line up changes between 1979 and 1982. Drummer Joey Brighton replaced Tony Petri, former Dictator drummer Richie Teeter replaced Brighton and finally AJ Pero replaced Teeter. On April 1, 1982, AJ Pero joined the band. Future Shark Island and The Scream drummer Walt Woodward III was also in the band for three days in 1982.
The band started its own T-shirt company and record label. The group released two singles that eventually made it over to the UK and caught the attention of Martin Hooker, the president of indie label Secret Records. Jay Jay remained as manager through 1981 at which time he hired Mark Puma, a local promoter, to manage the band. This lineup (Dee Snider, Jay Jay French, Eddie Ojeda, Mark Mendoza and A.J. Pero) is considered the "official Twisted Sister line up" because this version is responsible for almost all the studio albums, singles, videos and DVDs. 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. The band also took $22,000 to UK to appear on the show The Tube.
In June 1982, the group released its first EP, Ruff Cuts, on the Secret Records label, still featuring Tony Petri on the drums. This was followed shortly by the group's 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 Motörhead. 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 Motörhead. 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.
After an appearance on the music TV program The Tube, Atlantic Records approached the band and signed it. Atlantic was one of the labels that had turned Twisted Sister down in the Club Days period. The band's first LP under Atlantic, You Can't Stop Rock 'n' Roll, produced by Stuart Epps, was released in 1983 and included the UK No. 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.
International fame came for Twisted Sister when the band's third LP, Stay Hungry, hit the stores on May 10, 1984. During a 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.
Videos of hit singles "We're Not Gonna Take It" (a No. 21 hit in the United States) and "I Wanna Rock" (No. 68 in the United States) ran almost constantly on MTV. 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. The group was 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.
In May that year Ojeda took part, on behalf of the band, in the recordings for the Hear 'n Aid project, "Stars", although the single was not released until the following year.
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 choosing not to air the video for "Be Chrool to Your Scuel" on the grounds that it was graphically offensive. The song featured such guests as Alice Cooper (who also stars 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 1986, Snider embarked on a solo project, reportedly approaching future Iron Maiden guitarist Janick Gers, but this did not work out.
Janick recalls it as follows: "He rang me up and we talked but I remember saying, 'There is no way in this world that I am putting on make up or anything like that, I'm just not into that shit.' But we had a chat and he seemed like a nice enough guy. But I never heard back from him."
Snider then recorded an album with Franco programming the drum machine and 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, 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 the group had, and the band 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. The music video for the lead single "Hot Love", featuring the band members without their makeup and co-starring Dee Snider's wife, had moderate success on MTV. Commercially though, the album was a complete failure and many of the band's 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 cancelled its contract, and Twisted Sister disbanded. The public announcement of the band's demise came in January 1988.
After the band's break-up, former members were involved in different projects:
Snider formed Desperado, Widowmaker, and SMFs. Joey Franco also played drums in Widowmaker. He also wrote and starred in the movie Strangeland.
Ojeda went on to join Scarerow and then formed Prisoners of War. He also worked as a session guitarist and guitar instructor.
French stopped performing except for some guest appearances. He formed French Management and produced the alternative metal band Sevendust's first self-titled album.
Mendoza briefly joined Blackfoot. Then he worked as a producer and manager. He also occasionally pursued solo projects.
Pero was involved in several projects and subsequently toured with Snider's SMFs.
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 French. A live album from the Stay Hungry era named Live At Hammersmith was released in 1994 by CMC International.
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, which has three songs that were written by French, this was the first time someone other than Snider was writing songs, 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, 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.
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.
2002 also saw the featuring of "I Wanna Rock" as one of the gameplay radio songs on the videogame Grand Theft Auto: Vice City. The song features in the playlist of the fictional radio station "V Rock".
Twisted Sister, this time including Mark Mendoza, reunited again for the Sweden Rock Festival in June 2003. The band 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, the band entered the studio to completely re-record the group's Stay Hungry album for Demolition Records. The band members 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 at 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 The 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 it 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 October 17, 2006, and was a commercial success. On July 8, 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 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, practicing its set and appearing without makeup, usually at reduced ticket prices.
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 its rock version of "O Come All Ye Faithful", 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 an episode of Snider's syndicated radio program "The House of Hair", he 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.
On July 15, 2007, Twisted Sister performed at glam metal festival Rocklahoma.
Twisted Sister's "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 th egroup's classic album Stay Hungry, titled Still Hungry).
In 2008, 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.
On June 4, 2009, Twisted Sister performed Stay Hungry in its entirety for the first time at the Sweden Rock Festival. This included never before played songs such as "Don't Let Me Down" and "Horror-Teria: Street Justice".
On July 16, 2009, in an interview on Live with Regis and Kelly, Snider said that 2009 was the last year that the band would perform with makeup and costumes.
On February 16, 2010, Twisted Sister were confirmed to play at Bloodstock Open Air 2010.
On July 15, 2011, Twisted Sister were confirmed to play at Masters of Rock.
Twisted Sister performed at Copenhell 2014 in Denmark to an audience of 20,000 as part of the group's Stay Hungry 30th Anniversary World Tour. This was the group's first show in Denmark in 30 years. The Twisted Sister show was praised as one of the best concert performances. The band was "..As Sharp, Crazy and Witty as 30 years ago" according to the Danish press.
On October 13, 2011, the band announced a five-disk DVD set of live performances over the group's entire career entitled From the Bars to the Stars, with a release date of November 8.
On March 20, 2015 Twisted Sister announced that A. J. Pero had died by issuing the following press release: "The members of Twisted Sister are profoundly saddened to announce the untimely passing of our brother, AJ Pero. The band, crew and most importantly the family of AJ Pero thank you for your thoughts and prayers at this time." Shortly thereafter, Adrenaline Mob, who also featured Pero on drums, released a statement revealing that Pero had passed on while sleeping on the band's tour bus.
On April 7, 2015, TMZ.com reported that Twisted Sister will embark on its final tour, dubbed "Forty and Fuck It", in 2016. Mike Portnoy (of The Winery Dogs and Transatlantic and formerly of Dream Theater and Adrenaline Mob) will be filling in for Pero on drums on this tour. The band has also announced tribute shows in honor of A.J. Pero. The first show is in Las Vegas, Nevada, on May 30 at The Joint Hard Rock Hotel with Skid Row, Extreme, and Great White, which will also be filmed for broadcast, as well as for a CD and a DVD. The second is being dubbed “Twisted Sister – A Concert to Honor AJ Pero". It will be held in Sayreville, New Jersey, at the Starland Ballroom on June 13.
Dee Snider -"We are the greatest band live. Put the stones in the put Van Halen in there, flat footed pound for pound we would flatted those Mother Fuckers"!
This is the first "Metal Meltdown" DVD concert for their new concert series. The series kicks off with not only Twisted Sister's first concert on their 2015 tour but also their first performance after the passing of original drummer A.J. Pero, which I am sure had to be very difficult for the band. However, the guys never showed it and gave the crowd one-hundred and ten percent of their time! Filmed at the world famous Hard Rock Casino's venue The Joint in Las Vegas on May 30, 2015, Twisted Sister performed an explosive 90-minute set performing some of Twisted Sister's biggest hits that span their forty year career. This show as well as the tour was and is dedicated to the honor of Twisted Sister's original drummer A.J. Pero. A.J. who's tragic death was just two months prior to the filming of this concert. The band announced that not only were all the remaining concerts being performed in 2015 would be dedicated to the memory of A.J. Pero, but that 2016 would mark the 40th and final year of the band’s legendary live performances. The band recruited renowned drummer and good friend of A.J.'s Mike Portnoy (Dream Theater, Winery Dogs and Avenged Sevenfold) to take the throne, and his first Twisted Sister appearance was captured by the Metal Meltdown camera crew. One of the things Dee stated in the documentary portion of the DVD was that the band had a discussion once that if one of the members had to be replaced A.J. said "he wanted Mike Portney to be his replacement." I have no clue when the band discussed this however when Dee made this statement a chill ran up my spine!
I saw Twisted Sister in Evansville Indiana in 1984, it was what was called the Labor Day Jam. The bands that performed that night in order was Mama's Boys, Fastway, Y&T, Twisted Sister and Ratt. Twisted Sister was so great that night after Ratt's second song I walked out. I will always say Twisted Sister should have been the headliner that night. I am telling this because of Dee's comments about being the best live band bar none. If anyone else had of made this comment I would have said they were full of it. However, in Twisted Sister's case Dee is one-hundred percent correct! They sounded just as good on this DVD as they did in 1984! So usually when artists make statements like the one Dee made about being the best live band they are usually just tooting their own horn. However, I can say firsthand the band sounded just as great at The Joint as they did at Robert Stadium in 1984!
The setlist consisted of sixteen songs covering songs from every Twisted Sister release except for songs from 'Love Is For Suckers' and 'A Twisted Christmas'.
Between the last chorus and the coda of "Burn In Hell" there was a taped A.J. Pero drum solo. The solo was not only shown on the screens behind the band however also on the drum heads of Mike's drum kit. This was something I had never seen done before and very cool imagery. You could tell when the band sang the song "The Price" it really personally effect Dee.
Over my thirty years of going to shows I have seen hundreds if not thousands of arena and bar bands and I must say I agree with Snider Twisted Sister is bar none the best live band I have ever seen!
'Metal Meltdown' comes with a Blue-Ray, DVD and CD for $16.99 at Amazon.com and is well-worth the money!!!!!! If you are a fan of heavy metal or Twisted Sister this will be a must have!