Reelz Channel’s Breaking The Band happens to be one of our favorite cable documentary shows. The hour-long program examines what happens to bring an end to the biggest bands or groups in music. Though the episodes might be somewhat elementary for music aficionados, for the most part they tell the story straight. Narration is provided by rock legend Dee Snider, whose voice simply works for these sorts of tales. Which is what makes this week’s episode so compelling; his band, Twisted Sister, falls under the examination lens.
Twisted Sister skyrocketed onto the scene thanks to the very colorful and hilarious video to “We’re Not Gonna Take It,” the lead single from their 1984 album Stay Hungry. But these newcomers were anything but new; Twisted Sister had spent the past decade trying to get its big break. The band officially formed in 1972, and although Snider has become synonymous with the band, he didn’t join the group until 1976. It took them nearly a decade of touring and working as a live act for them to garner a record deal.
Yet it was Snider who made all the difference. A young man determined to be famous, he put together a raucous persona, one that even in the hedonistic Seventies could be a bit much to take. Long, frazzled blonde hair, insanely designed makeup, and a mixture of leather and women’s clothes, Snider came across like a demented Bette Midler. Forget glam rock, Twisted Sister’s style was completely alien, and Snider’s crazed leader role soon helped build a substantial live following. In Breaking The Band, footage of the band’s live appearance on British show The Tube captures Snider’s power. The audience are only half-enthusiastic, so Snider confronts them during a performance of “It’s Only Rock And Roll,” where he wipes off the makeup and tells the crowd, okay, you have a problem with the make-up, but now it’s gone, so what’s your problem now?
It’s revealed that they signed a record deal immediately after that, thanks to that performance. Yet in its own way, this moment of success also served as a hint of things to come. A dynamic within the group started to change thanks to its frontman. This proble would ultimately and unfortunately tear the band apart. After working so hard to make it, their success is undermined by the one thing that made them successful.
But that’s how bands work, no? Cliches aren’t simply made up; they’re based in reality, and Breaking The Band shines a light on that reality. But all’s good, in the end; the band made up, reunited several times, and toured; they called it a day shortly after the death of their beloved drummer AJ Pero. With hilarious interactions between Snider and his former bandmates, this episode of ˆis a pure fun delight. And it and features some fantastic music to boot.
Breaking The Band: Twisted Sister broadcasts Saturday, February 6th at 8PM EST/5 PM PST