Publisher: Gallery Books
Publication Date: May 8th, 2012
List Price: $26.00
Hardcover: 432 Pages
Book Signing Tour
May 7: Ridgewood, NJ - Bookends 7 pm
May 8: Huntington, NY - Book Revue 7 pm
May 9: Mendham, NJ - Mendham Books 7 pm
May 10: Madison, CT - R.J. Julia 7 pm
May 11: Philadelphia, PA - Barnes & Noble 6 pm
May 12: Detroit, MI - Barnes & Noble 4 pm
May 14: Skoki, IL - Barnes & Noble 7 pm
May 15: Kansas City, MO - Unity Temple 7 pm
May 16: Norma, OK - Hastings 7 pm
May 17: Tucson, AZ - Barnes & Noble 7 pm
May 18: Tempe, AZ - Changing Hands Bookstore 7 pm
We're Not Gonna Take It! NO! We all grew up hearing Twisted Sister on the radio. The man behind the band, Dee Snider, has a few projects under his belt…
The book starts with this disclaimer:
I've read a few music autobiographies for review, and I have to say, that "Shut Up and Give Me the Mic" is the most entertaining of those books. The man has a memory like an elephant, meticulously detailing everything. I don't know if credits should be given to Snider or his editor, but thank you for painstakingly explaining terms*, bands, and people from before my time. Having said that, sometime I did have a little trouble keeping track of who's who, especially when the names aren't remarkable like drummer #2 to Paul Cooper to Phil Carson. I suppose that's why the more colorful and memorable musicians went by nick names like Jay Jay French, "Fury" Mannello, AJ, and, of course, Dee Snider (Danny Snider).
Taking the lead from Snider's book, for those that aren't familiar with Dee Snider, he was the singer (and eventual) bandleader for Twisted Sister. The band started in the early 70s as a cover band. Snider didn't join the band until 1976, which, at the time, Jay Jay was the singer and songwriter and the band's manager. The band built up an audience in America, but didn't really blow up until they were noticed in the UK and eventually were asked to play Reading and to appear on Channel 4's "The Tube". Once secured to a record deal with Atlantic Records, the band went on to having two massive MTV hit videos for "We're Not Gonna Take It" and "I Wanna Rock".
I don't know if it would be considered a spoiler (since it's well documented in history), but the band was the target of Tipper Gore's Parents Music Resource Center (PMRC) group. This lead to music distributors stop carrying Twisted Sister's albums, and their music videos were essentially banned from MTV. I'm sure there were other factors, but I really felt that Gore's crusade destroyed a lot of people.
"Shut Up and Give Me the Mic" does a great job in capturing Twisted Sister's story, although it's done through the eyes of Snider. Snider sometime fail to understand what he was doing wrong, which is funny because he often goes on about what other people were doing wrong (like when Jay Jay French's dismissive tone to his first song).
The best part about this biography is that Snider had stories for some of Twisted Sister's hit songs (like how it was "his idea" for the "I Wanna Rock" chorus). What you probably didn't expect is that along with Twisted Sister's story, there is a parallel love story with his one true love, Suzette. Her introduction is quite funny, I won't give away anything, but let's just say I laughed out loud when they first spoke to each other. Suzette would play an important role in the band's development by suggesting they wear makeup and then becoming their costume designer.
There are many good stories and theories from Snider. One of my favorite is his theory about how ugly/less popular people are at their most creative. Basically "beautiful" people don't have any talent, because if you were out partying all the time, when do you actually have time to devote to your craft?
Anyway, it's really baffling how a band, who started "hair metal" and was at the top of the world in 1984, to hitting rock bottom in by October 10, 1987, in Minneapolis, of all places. You might think the story ended there, but I felt through Snider's optimism of being back on television (Celebrity Apprentice), and this book and being on Broadway, that Dee Snider is just starting the second part of his life!
As I have previously mentioned, it was a pleasure to read this book. Even if you've never heard of Twisted Sister (yeah right), or remotely like heavy metal, I still recommend this book for reading. It seems to me that this book is more than those things, this book is part life lessons, part love story, and the love of rock 'n roll.
"Shut Up and Give Me the Mic" will be out May 8th via Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster Publishing. Come out and meet the man himself at his book signing tour next week.
* For example, the term A&R is thrown around in the music industry and I vaguely understand this as 'artist development'. Snider doesn't assume you know that and explained this as "artist and repertoire" and what they do.