BY SEAN MCCARTHY [SUBMITTED STORY]
A piece of rock royalty is coming to New Bedford.
As the guitarist and founder of the world-famous metal band Twisted Sister, Jay Jay French has been to the rock star mountain top. But as the band’s manager, he has established himself as an industry giant with a career that has lasted long beyond the band’s heyday.
And now French’s rare perspective has been made available in the book, Twisted Business: Lessons From My Life in Rock ‘N Roll. The New York rocker will be making an appearance at Purchase Street Records in downtown New Bedford this Friday night from 6 p.m. to 8, for a book-signing meet-and-greet. For $30 fans can receive a copy of the book, signed in person by French. Reservations for the event can be made by calling (508) 287-8688. Purchase Street Records is located at 767 Purchase St.
“My introduction to the business world was being a teenage drug dealer in Central Park,” French says. “You learn how to deal and negotiate with some very interesting people, there’s always the potential of getting arrested, getting ripped off, or worse. But at that age it’s all about sex, drugs and rock-and-roll.”
French’s drug-dealing career ended after a near-fatal overdose.
“I lost a lot of my friends to the drug scene,” he says. “I got out of it because I thought I was going to destroy my world permanently. So when I got into the music business it wasn’t’ my first rodeo.”
Twisted Business is a book that can be enjoyed by musicians and business people as well as fans of the band. Today French has found further success as a motivational speaker for Fortune 500 companies as well as non-profits. He still benefits financially from managing the Twisted Sister brand.
“This book will teach you the art of reinvention, which can apply to anybody, not just the music business,” he says. “In the beginning it was about being a musician, but I eventually started seeing things from a business perspective. Eventually the music became almost secondary, I became a businessman who was also a musician.”
French says that Twisted Sister has had continuing success despite rock music being replaced as the most popular form of music in America.
“Rock has been replaced on the charts by hip-hop, rap, country, and female pop. There’s almost no rock on the charts any longer. It had a good 50-year run, a revolution started by the Beatles. It inspired a lot of people and changed a lot of attitudes, it’s extraordinary music.
“Twisted Sister became successful because we changed with the times, we did what we needed to do to survive. If you look back at the bands that came out in 1973, we’re joined by bands like AC/DC, Judas Priest, and KISS. We’re all still here because there’s been an ongoing evolution with our music and our relationship with our fans.”
He says that the band members of Twisted Sister still communicate “every day.” And while there are no plans for more shows, they will be releasing a double vinyl Live/Greatest Hits album, “Tear It Loose,” in the end of Novermber.
French also hosts a podcast, “The Jay Jay French Connection,” where he interviews authors, writers, musicians, actors, producers and managers.
He says he’s “grateful” that some of his music is still enjoyed by young music fans, particularly the international mega-hit, “We’re Not Gonna Take It.”
“If you ask a 10-year old kid if he knows Twisted Sister he might not, but if you ask him to sing ‘We’re Not Gonna Take It,’ he probably can. That’s very gratifying.”