Considering the size of his ego, I’m shocked that Twisted Sister frontman Dee Snider was able to cram his life story into just a little over 400 pages. Let’s just tick through the list of things Snider wants credit for: founding the hair metal genre (not sure why he would take pride in that one, but check); coming up with the idea for MTV’s Headbanger’s Ball; creating the first proper music video; rechristening a Long Island dance/pop singer Taylor Dayne… and on and on.
Yes, Snider has lived an interesting life, as a onetime staple on MTV in the 80’s and a target of fanatical Conservative and religious groups who once testified at a music obscenity hearing before Congress, and his book is nearly impossible to put down as a result. Along with Snider’s ego, even impressive by rock star standards, it’s also surprising just how much of an ass he was a leader of Twisted Sister. Sure he wrote some catchy glam metal hits and his over-the-top personality helped bring plenty of fame and fortune to the other members of the group, but he also led the band like a dictator once they hit their peak, going so far as insisting that he be the only one to talk to the press and attending press conferences on his own. It’s shocking he made it through the 80’s without being strangled by a guitar string or stabbed in the back with a broken drum stick. In Snider’s defense, he does readily admit that he acted like a jerk through much of the group’s existence.
Also impressive is how open the lion-manned rocker is in discussing the difficulties in the 90’s when the band’s music was no longer in vogue, the cars and house were gone and he had to do what he could to support his family. Flash forward to 2012, when hair metal bands are now a nostalgia act, and Snider and the rest of the band have put aside their differences enough for the occasional cash grab. Nostalgia is also strong enough now to justify a memoir from a one-time reigning king (and founder, if he’s to be believed) of hair metal. As entertaining as this book is, that’s certainly a good thing.
Shut Up and Give me the Mic: A Twisted Memoir By Dee Snider/Hardcover/432 pages/Gallery Books/2012