Jay Jay French poster - Denim and Leather Podcast - Episode 11

Episode #11: Interview With Jay Jay French

Podcast: Denim and Leather
Host: Urosh Veljkovic
Guest: Jay Jay French (his book “Twisted Business” (affiliate link) and his podcast “The JJ French Connection: Beyond the Music.”)
Released on June 12, 2024
Duration: 71 minutes

Uros Veljkovic, the Denim and Leather Podcast host, welcomed Jay Jay French in the 11th episode. The video features excellent stories by Jay Jay French, the legendary guitarist and founder of Twisted Sister. He discusses his early musical influences, the formation of Twisted Sister, and the band’s extensive performance history. French also shares anecdotes about his experiences with other famous musicians and the evolution of rock music over the decades.

Jay Jay French discusses the impact and licensing success of Twisted Sister’s hits, the band’s history, and his personal experiences and opinions on music and performance. He reflects on the band’s legacy, the importance of delivering a great live show, and the challenges of continuing to perform at a high level with age. JJ shared his experiences with guitars, the music industry, and his podcast. Jay Jay French shares a remarkable story about a guitar delivered to him in 1977, the impact of that event on his career, and his views on the music industry’s current state.

Musical Influences and Beginnings (02:32)

Jay Jay French was inspired by the Beatles and blues musicians. Jay Jay developed a passion for guitar playing in the ’60s. He was influenced by Mike Bloomfield and Eric Clapton.

Transition to Glam Rock (10:08)

He shifted from blues to glam rock, influenced by David Bowie, one of the top rock artists of the 70s. The mix of glam and heavy metal shaped Twisted Sister’s style. Discusses the impact of bands like Slade and T-Rex.

Formation of Twisted Sister (18:01)

The Twisted Sister was initially called Silver Star. The name changed to Twisted Sister around Valentine’s Day 1973. Debut as Twisted Sister in early April 1973.

Live Performance History (20:41)

Twisted Sister is known for many live shows, initially performing five shows a night, six nights a week. Jay Jay explained that the Twisted Sister had over 7,000 performances before their first record deal.

Legacy of “We’re Not Gonna Take It” (26:02)

The song became an anthem, is widely licensed, and is used in movies, TV shows, commercials, and more. Celebrates 40 years since its release.

Twisted Sister’s Licensing Success (28:40)

“I Wanna Rock” and “We’re Not Gonna Take It” are widely licensed—songs used in commercials, TV shows, and by corporations.

“We’re Not Gonna Take It” and “I Wanna Rock” top the list. Other hits include “Can’t Stop Rock and Roll” and “Under the Blade”.

Live Performance Insights (30:36)

Importance of playing fan-favorite songs from early albums. Challenges bands face when introducing new material in concerts.

Responsibility to Fans (36:34)

Ensuring fans leave happy is a top priority for performers. Bands like Kiss and Iron Maiden carry this responsibility.

Jay Jay French’s Solo Endeavors (39:01)

He is not interested in a solo album and prefers playing blues. Discusses playing at JazzFest and potential blues project.

Twisted Sister’s Future Performances (51:00)

The band received offers to reunite but declined. JJ French discussed physical challenges and the desire to maintain quality of performance.

Guitar Story (56:27)

Recounts a surprising encounter with the person who delivered his first Gibson Les Paul. Describes the unique pink paint job by Steve Carr. Emphasizes the serendipity of the meeting after decades.

Music Industry Insights (58:49)

Jay Jay French discussed the transformation of the music industry and the challenges for new artists. Advises young musicians to learn from their contemporaries. Stresses the importance of understanding the business side of music.

Streaming and Content (01:03:00)

Critiques the perception of music as content or product. Highlights the necessity of creating new content to succeed. Encourages artists to focus on their craft rather than industry semantics.

Personal Journey and Business Acumen (01:05:07)

He reflects on his past and how it influenced his money-making approach. Shares Twisted Sister’s strategy of reinvesting in the band. Offers insights into the club scene and the evolution of the band’s earnings.

The Podcast and Book Promotion (01:58:04)

Jay Jay French mentioned his book “Twisted Business” (affiliate link) and his podcast “The JJ French Connection: Beyond the Music.”

Watch the Full Episode With Jay Jay French

We honored every guest on the Denim and Leather Podcast, but having JJ French in the 11th episode was uniquely special to us. That’s because of several things, including the host, Uros Veljkovic, being one of the greatest SMF (SMF in the context of Twisted Sister refers to the band’s biggest fan. That stands for Sick Mother-F**ker.)

So, we recommend the 11th episode of the Denim and Leather Podcast with all our hearts. Hear what the veteran entrepreneur and guitar player can say about his journey in the music industry and his creation Twisted Sister – one of the most recognizable glam metal bands from the 70s.

Denim and Leather Podcast – the YouTube channel
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