Jay Jay French Says He Joined Twisted Sister To Get Rid Of His Drug Dealer Reputation
Twisted Sister guitarist and founding member Jay Jay French recently looked back on the time the band was first formed as well as his time as a drug dealer before being a musician. According to the rocker, he needed to get away from his past with drugs and his reputation as a drug dealer in New York which is why he joined the band Silverstar, later to be known as Twisted Sister.
In December 1972, Jay Jay French joined the New Jersey-based glitter band Silverstar which changed its name in 1973 to Twisted Sister. The band had a line-up that’s completely different than today as it included Michael Valentine on vocals, guitarist Billy Diamond, Kenneth Harrison Neill as the bass player, and Mell Star on drums.
Two years later, French hired Rick Prince on vocals and Keith Angel on guitars. However, French himself took over the vocals soon after which wasn’t the last duty change within the band. In that same year, Eddie Ojeda replaced Keith Angel on guitars, and Dee Snider joined the band in February 1976.
With other significant member changes such as the addition of Eddie Ojeda, Mark Mendoza, A.J. Pero, Twisted Sister got its best lineup along with Jay Jay French and Dee Snider as this version of the band is responsible for almost all the studio albums, singles, and videos.
While the detailed reason behind these multiple lineup changes wasn’t revealed up until now, Jay Jay French recently opened up about them during an appearance on ‘Rock Forever!’ Apparently, the musician had a long history with drugs that included him being a famous drug dealer in New York City.
In order to get away from his reputation in NYC, Jay Jay French decided to join a band that was away from the city which resulted in his tenure with Silverstar that later turned into Twisted Sister. However, that band also had members who were doing drugs and drinking alcohol which is why French decided to change the direction of his life and band.
Because he felt like he was being controlled by those who were addicted to drugs and alcohol, the guitarist wanted to put a band together that embraced the policy of no drugs and alcohol. This resulted in the birth of Twisted Sister which is a band that is known for being against substance abuse.
Looking back on the time he first joined Twisted Sister, French said:
“Trying to find a band that wasn’t high was impossible. So I joined this band called Silverstar which morphed into Twisted Sister a couple of months later because I needed to get out of New York City because my reputation was well known as a drug dealer. I needed to get away from it.
I was able to jump ship and when I joined Twisted Sister, I didn’t say anything about drug use or anything so they didn’t know anything about it. They didn’t ask me about it which was good, I was under no pure pressure. However, those guys drank, and I never came from a culture of drinking. I didn’t know about drinking.”
“I didn’t know how bad alcohol was going to affect the band. That band was scarred with alcoholics and methamphetamine and coke addicts. I got sick of all of it, I said if I’m going to stay in this business, I’m going to put together a band.
I can’t deal with this, I can’t have people who are that wasted, ruining, and ruling my life, and making decisions on my behalf. So I joined the band simply as a guitar player and by virtue of the experiences that I had in the band, I morphed into a guitar player/manager. That’s the genesis of the beginning of the book.”
You can watch the interview down below.