TWISTED SISTER guitarist Jay Jay French says that he is “blissfully retired” from playing music, more than two years after the band completed its farewell tour.
In 2016, TWISTED SISTER embarked on one final trek, titled “Forty And Fuck It”, in celebration of its 40th anniversary. These shows featured the band’s “core lineup” of Jay Jay French, singer Dee Snider, guitarist Eddie Ojeda and bassist Mark Mendoza, along with drummer Mike Portnoy. The band’s last-ever concert took place in November of that year — 20 months after the passing of TWISTED’s longtime drummer A.J. Pero.
“I walked off stage at the last show in Mexico, and I gave all my guitars away to my crew,” Jay Jay told the “Neil Jones Rock Show” at last month’s NAMM show in Anaheim, California. “I said, ‘Guys, thank you. It’s been great. See you later.’ I never looked back. We didn’t even meet in the lobby and have a drink. I was off stage in a golf cart with my wife on the way to the hotel. I was on a plane and out of here.”
French says that he played nine thousand shows with TWISTED SISTER and he “loved every bit of it.” But he understands when people tell him that they don’t believe the band is completely retired.
“I never said we weren’t coming back,” he explained. “We retired for a while. And I said, ‘No, I’m not gonna say never.’ We could. Maybe there’s a charity [event that we could play at]. Maybe there’s Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame. I doubt it, but maybe. Whatever. It could happen. But at this point in my life, I don’t think about it.
“As every day goes by that I don’t play, I don’t ever think I’m gonna play again,” he continued. “Meanwhile, Dee is out there with a band and he’s making records and it’s what he wants to do. And I wish him all the best. I do. We talk all the time. He wishes me the best. When I license the songs to make money for the company, like, ‘Hey, man, you’re doing a good job.’ ‘Hey, you’re doing a good job too.’ ‘Knock yourself out.’ But he’s doing the heavy lifting. I have no desire to put a guitar on and stand in front of the amplifiers and play.”
According to French, TWISTED SISTER’s classic track “We’re Not Gonna Take It”, which was written by Snider, “is the number one metal song in the history of the world. It’s the most licensed song in the world — more movies, TV shows, TV commercials, soundtracks,” he claimed. “And I oversee the licensing on it, which is why I don’t have to play anymore. I’m blissfully retired.”
French, who spends much of his time now writing for magazines and giving motivational speeches for corporations, went on to credit his bandmates for their journey across four decades of hard work and perseverance. “People dedicated their lives to [TWISTED SISTER],” he said. “Eddie Ojeda and I have been friends for 50 years. Eddie and I go back — in fact, 50 years ago this month, I met Eddie in high school. So me and Eddie go back 50 years. Dee and I go back 44 years. Mark and I go back 35 years. I was married to Mark’s sister. So there’s a hell of a lot of history there. Everyone busted their ass. Dee was the creative force. I was the business force behind it, in reality. That’s what pushed it forward.”
Asked if he thinks TWISTED SISTER will eventually be inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame, Jay Jay said: “Maybe one day. Whether it [happens] or doesn’t, our fans know what we meant to them, and we love them. I mean, it’s one of the greatest joys in my life to be able to say that we could stand in front of a hundred thousand people and sing those songs. Like ‘We’re Not Gonna Take It’, [we could play that song] anywhere around the world, and have a hundred thousand fans singing [it] back to us. How many bands can say that? Very, very few bands. So I consider myself extremely fortunate. And I think our fans are fantastic.”