When I was 16 years old I had been sneaking into bars and clubs for a year or 2 already. Back then there were so many amazing bands playing in the bars and clubs in the NY/NJ area. And I wanted/needed to see them all! My life had already been changed 3 years earlier on Dec 16th in Madison Square Garden by this little band called Kiss! But Kiss seemed so larger than life and mythical that it seemed that it would be nearly impossible to achieve that sort of stature. I had started writing songs and they all sucked. It felt like I would never be able to achieve what I had seen on the stage at Madison Square Garden.
So I'm 16 years old and my dear friend Jimmy Yuhasz and I were going to the Fountain Casino in Aberdeen, NJ to see a band called Twisted Sister. We had been hearing about these guys from anyone and everyone for a couple of years at this point. Everyone said "you have to see Twisted Fuckin' Sister! You've never seen anything like it". With that in mind, Jimmy and I hitchhiked to the Fountain Casino and walked up to the front door of this club. Jimmy was so ballsy, he was 1 year younger than me but nothing could get in his way. We walked right up to the door, showed our fake ID's (i got mine at the old Showplace on 42nd St.), acted like we belonged there and walked right in without anyone batting an eye.
Once we were in the club we soon realized that we were in the midst of something no 16 year old kid from Sayreville (Slayerville to those in the know), NJ had ever seen before.
Twisted Sister's fans were called SMF's which stood for Sick Mother Fucker's! An approriate title! And this event we were at was a Twisted Sister SMF party! There was 2000 people in the Fountain Casino it was wall to wall and elbow to elbow with metalheads from every walk of life! Not only was Twisted Sister legendary in the tri-state area but so were their fans. Loyal beyond compare!! Now mind you, Twisted Sister didn't even have a record deal at this point! And this was a band who played the old Palladium in NYC and sold it out to 3,200 people! All of this by an unsigned band. That was fucking criminal.
Anyway, the air was ridiculously electric at this club and Jimmy and I were in a state of Euphoria. We felt that we were in something that only the privileged few were able to be a part of.
AC/DC's "Its a Long Way to the Top" was winding down on the PA system when the lights went black. The hairs on my arms stood on end! "Ladies and Gentlemen, please welcome from New York. TWISTED FUCKING SISTER"! The crowd was ballistic as the band broke into what could possibly be the greatest opening song ever written,'What You Don't Know (Sure Can Hurt You"! For anyone who has never witnessed the opening of a Twisted Sister show then, unfortunately, your life is sadly incomplete.
I could not believe what I was seeing! It was something I had never seen before! Everyone was right for a change. Each member was larger than life and they played as if they were daring you to fight them! 5 guys that seemed 12 feet tall that looked like a drag queens with the most fucked up morning after make-up jobs. And they were daring you to take a swing at them. No one even dared to. They were that intimidating! And they an army of 2,000 people on their side. I was now one of them.
After the initial aural and visual bulldozing took place I realized that the music was just as awesome as their show. And then they played "Under the Blade", which is when the epiphany occurred. Kiss had changed my life and made me realize that i wanted to play music for a living. Seeing Twisted Sister that night made me realize that I really could play music for a living. They gave us hope because they were from the NY/NJ area and even though they weren't signed (yet), they were drawing 2-4,000 on any given night in our area and had a show that was better than 99% of the bands signed and touring at that time. They were focused and undeterred and so became I.
Tonight, there was a benefit for the victims of the Hurricane Sandy tragedy. This hits home for me as many in my hometown and surrounding areas were horribly affected by the storm. The event was held in Old Bridge, NJ. Old Bridge is the home of the mighty Old Bridge Metal Militia and the birthplace of Megaforce Records and, before that, the Rock and Roll Heaven import record shop. THE greatest record store ever!
They co-sponsored the event tonight and mad props go out to them for putting together an amazing event to help out our friends and neighbors who have been suffering through this horrible catastrophe.
The line-up was stellar:
Lords of Mercy (great local Jersey band)
So, a few weeks ago I was talking to Dee Snider about the benefit and he suggested that maybe we should jam together! Before he could even finish his sentence I was like "I'm in, I am SOO in"! He suggested that we do an AC/DC or a Led Zeppelin song. While I love both those bands I had something else in mind. In my most humble of mannerisms I asked Dee if it would be possible to play "Under the Blade" with the band. Then I began to tell him the story that y'all have just read. He said that he would check with the band and would get back to me. A day or 2 later he called and said it was on! "Holy shit!! I can't believe this is happening" I thought at the time.
Well, tonight it happened. I was given the gift of being able to play "Under the Blade" with TWISTED FUCKING SISTER in Old Bridge, NJ (one town over from my hometown of Slayerville) and for a very worthy cause.
The point of this whole, long-winded rant is that tonight the dream of a 16 year old kid came true! My life has never been the same since that 16 year old kid saw a crazy ass band in an overcrowded nightclub that they played in like they were playing Giants Stadium. That night I truly started believing that i really could play music for a living. I wanted to be on that stage so much that night that it physically hurt.
Tonight I was able to be on that stage with that crazy ass band and thus the dream of a 16 year old kid became reality. I can't describe the impact an event like this has on someone but I am eternally grateful for this gift! It is truly humbling!
I have to and need to humbly thank: Dee Snider, Mark "the Animal" Mendoza, Jay Jay French, Eddie "Fingers" Ojeda, A.J. Pero and Danny Stanton.
I also need to thank the OBMM, R & R Heaven and all of the old friends I got to see tonight.
See kids, dreams do come true! And I think I even played half way decent!
But most importantly, it was all to help those in need! I think we did alright.
Thanks for listening.