Jay Jay French Of Twisted Sister Opens Up On Filing For Bankruptcy
via VRP Rocks / Youtube
During a recent interview with classic rock podcast VRP Rocks, Twisted Sister guitarist Jay Jay French discussed the financial struggles he had when his heavy metal band broke up in 1988.
French shed light on his eventual reintroduction into the music industry during the conversation by sharing insights into the series of events that transpired in his life during that turbulent period.
Regarding whether those years were the most difficult time in his career, the guitarist thought about it and said:
“It wasn’t. It wasn’t. I’d already got through – the hardest time in my life was when the band broke up. My mom died; my girlfriend left me. That was the absolute lowest point in my life.”
“I literally lost everything”
French saw the irony of it all when he described the need to declare bankruptcy just two years after the release of Twisted Sister’s 1987 album, Love Is For Suckers. The guitarist recalled how he struggled hard after the band fell apart in 1988.
“It’s quite ironic, you know? I found myself filing for bankruptcy, and in 1989, I walked out of that bankruptcy court almost chuckling at the absurdity of how everything had unfolded,” he shared.
French went on, “We had navigated through this tremendous struggle, experienced incredible highs, and then suddenly, there I was, three years later, facing the harsh reality of bankruptcy court. I literally lost everything.”
When the Twisted Sister founding member thought back on the turns of events that brought him to that difficult time, he conveyed a powerful contrast between the spectacular success of the past and the stark reality of financial ruin. The event acted as a sobering reminder of both the capricious nature of the music business and the unforeseen turns that life takes.
From selling stereos to coming back as a rock producer
French talked about how the band’s breakup affected his life completely as he moved to a variety of non-musical careers, from working in a pool hall to selling stereos. He reminisced:
“And the next thing you know, I’m working overnight at the pool hall that my friend owned because I needed to make money. Then, I worked selling stereos for four years, remarried, had a kid. [I] pretty much thought, ‘Well, maybe, that’s just it. Maybe I had my shot. It was great, and I’ll just wind up being a stereo salesman for the rest of my life.’”
But the guitarist was able to climb back up again after he returned to the rock scene as a producer. He recalled how the 1990s were defined by his work with Sevendust, a band that achieved moderate success.
“Then, all of a sudden, the band Sevendust came my way because I had worked with them for years as other names of other bands. And I produced a demo, and then Mark Mendoza and I produced their album, and that became a hit. I pulled myself out and managed them and, made a lot of money and bought a house. And everything went back up again. Everything kind of went from here to here and then back up again.”
From the bottom again and clawing back to the top as an inspirational speaker
French’s life took a favorable turn before a number of difficulties surfaced, such as his second spouse leaving him and the development of health problems that required atrial fibrillation surgery.
“Everything came crashing down again, and then all of a sudden, offers started coming in for Twisted because we had played a benefit in 2001 for 9/11. All of a sudden, all these festivals said, ‘You know what? If Twisted can come back, we want them as headliners’,” the guitarist explained.
Reflecting on this tumultuous period, the former Twisted Sister founder chronicled his experiences in a business book titled Twisted Business: Lessons From My Life In Rock N’ Roll.
Additionally, he ventured into business writing by contributing a column for Inc.com and took on the role of a motivational speaker at conferences. This marked a significant shift in his career, combining his rock ‘n’ roll background with insightful lessons for the business world.
Watch the whole interview below: