Signals From Mars – Hits You Don’t Have Any Stinken Hits

I was about to kick off my first opinion post a few weeks ago. The topic was to be Dee Snider’s recent comments about Doug Aldrich, Kiss, and others. He more or less stated that musicians like Aldrich do not deserve to use the name Whitesnake as a reference since he joined the band after their “big hits”. Then that same afternoon as I’m ready to put my ideas to post I found out that A.J. Pero passed away. My heart goes out to him, his family, bandmates and fans. His passing is a huge loss to the hard rock and metal community, his intro to We’re Not Going To Take It is as influential, and important in my opinion as tracks like When The Levee Breaks, War Pigs, or other track that you might look to learn when first picking up the sticks. I know, I played the hell out of it, and it is the perfect example of how each player has his own technique and feel, and no matter how much you practice, you’ll never nail the part down like A.J. did. There was also a who’s who of known players that came out of the woodworks stating how A.J. helped him or his band out at some point in their career. Truly a tragic loss.

Getting back to Dee, look, I love Twisted Sister, and although this is the first thing a lot of people write when they are about to torpedo a band, I truly mean it. Dee was my first ever interview when I was a teenager and he was launching his band Widowmaker (I’ll bring them up again later). They also hold a huge emotional piece of my heart, due to their show at the now legendary NY Steel benefit. As someone that was there on 9/11, and later at that show, hearing and seeing them play The Price made me start crying and realize that it was time to start healing and move forward. It was a long journey, but that was the starting point.

So recently Dee mentioned that he had an issue with Doug Aldrich using the name Whitesnake at a review he is a part of in Las Vegas. I thought this was a complete slap in the face given the fact that Doug has played with a ton of bands, including Dio and Whitesnake. He has done sessions work, and let’s be honest he’s recently sold a ton more than most metal bands due to his work with Lady Gaga. For anyone that wants to pigeon-hole that, check out Dee’s album of Broadway hits. And here’s the thing, A.J. did not play on Twisted Sister’s last studio album Love Is For Suckers, it was Joe Franco, who later went on to play with Dee in Widowmaker, and Van Helsing’s Curse. Joe’s biggest claim to fame is playing with Twisted Sister, why shouldn’t he be allowed to say he played with the band? Reb Beech who currently plays in Whitesnake and Winger coincidentally also contributed solos to that same album, he wasn’t an official member of TS, so it makes sense he doesn’t label himself as a member, but Aldrich was an official member of Whitesnake, David Coverdale signed off on him. So now that A.J. has passed on, Joe is the logical replacement, but let’s say he isn’t available, or doesn’t want to play with the band, does who ever join the band have a right to say he plays in Twisted Sister even though he was not on Stay Hungry? What if the person that steps in is Mike Portnoy, he’s a huge name onto himself, would it be ok for him to say he played in TS? Or does that actually make Portnoy fans go out and see TS? He makes reference to the fact that Al Pitrelli was in Megadeth, but that he’s only a paid musician, not an actual member. Dee questions why should Pitrelli is listing himself as once being part of the band. Let me think, if an endorser comes along are they going to use the names Megadeth, Alice Cooper, TSO or Savatage, or are they going to say Al Pitrelli of Widowmaker?

Also, he says they don’t play any Kiss post Bruce Kulick era on House Of Hair, due to the fact that the band has not had any hits after Bruce left. This is a head scratcher to me on two counts. First off, Dee is the first one to complain that he will not do any new Twisted Sister music because stations will not play the new material. He himself does not try and break any new music on his shows either, so that’s part of the problem. Others won’t do it, so we’re not going to do it either. He also makes the argument saying that Aldrich joined Whitesnake after their hits, not playing anything from Kiss after a certain album, etc. Let’s be objective here, if this is the case, then Twisted Sister really only had two hits, We’re Not Going To Take It, and I Wanna Rock. How many times have you heard You Can’t Stop Rock N Roll on a 80s hits show? How many times have you heard it on something other than collage radio or a station or podcast that specializes in hard rock or metal? I can tell you how many, zero. If we’re being honest than the only person that can claim to be a former member of Whitesnake then is John Sykes, as he’s the only one that played on all of their radio hits. So that means you’re poo-pooing Steve Vai, Adrian Vandenberg, Vivian Campbell, etc. Just doesn’t make sense to me.

What is considered Greatest Hits for a band, is usually what they play live, but those are hits for those fans, you go beyond that fanbase and 99% of the music buying fans have no idea that the majority of a setlist exists, unless it is on the radio. That unfortunately means only two songs for TS when you are counting hits.

Recently it was announced that Chris Adler and Kiko Loureiro will officially play on the next Megadeth album. It has astonished me that people have complained about the brief snippets being released, stating that Adler does not play like he usually does with Lamb Of God. Folks, seriously Megadeth has been around for how many years, and you expect him to just take over and do his thing? None of us have heard enough to make an actual assessment of how the new Megadeth tracks sound, but the band has always, and will always be directed by Dave Mustaine. Is that really a shock to anyone? The press release sent out when Adler was confirmed covers all you need to know in the first sentence “Dave Mustaine, the creative driving force behind original American metal and hard rock crossover giants Megadeth….” Need we say more?

If you’re successful enough to make it in the music industry your band has to be run like a business. People lose track of this and they think it is some made up cartoon world. I’m surprised that Dee has lost track of that, especially given his financial ups and downs over the years. All of his comments need to be taken with a grain of salt because these types of comments come up when he’s promoting something. Wow look at that, he’s going to be releasing a new solo album shortly, sucks that they didn’t get one last album out of the original line up of TS before A.J. passed away, hope this does not become a what if situation for the band.