Dee Snider Recalls How Motörhead’s Lemmy Saved Twisted Sister From Angry Audience in UK

While appearing in a recent episode of Vintage Rock Pod, Dee Snider looked back on that one time when Motörhead frontman and leader Lemmy Kilmister practically saved Twisted Sister from a tough crowd in the UK. This was in the early 1980s and Dee was fronting his band that was — shockingly enough — dressed in drag. This was, according to the singer, pretty much a deal breaker for metal fans in the UK back then and something they weren’t all too happy to see.

When asked about Lemmy and what it was like to be around him, Dee recalled the story (transcribed by Killer Guitar Rigs):

“I’m getting chills right now because when I think about Lemmy — because my wife has planted something in my head, which is insane and we’ll talk about it — but Lemmy became our savior. We got on a bill at the Wrexham football stadium with Budgie, Tank, and a whole bunch of other signed metal bands.”

Twisted Sister - Live At North Stage Theater 1982 (FULL CONCERT)

“Football stadium shows — it’s our first performance in the UK, and because of a cancellation, a relationship my manager had with Motörhead’s manager, we wound up special guesting.”

“And we were gonna go out on stage for the first time in daylight. And this is 1981, ’82, somewhere around there. So you know the legends of ‘Canvil’, Anvil being canned off the stage and bottled off the stage at Reading, of Girl being bottled off the stage — remember Girl? — because they wore a little makeup.”

Now, bear in mind that these were the early 1980s and that metal fans were a different bunch back then. Dee added that if there was even just the slightest idea of femininity in the mix, the band would be booed off the stage. After recalling how Anvil was received pretty negatively.

Twisted Sister - Live At Reading 1982 (FULL CONCERT)

And, funnily enough, after Anvil was booed off the stage, Twisted Sister was supposed to go on. Just imagine the pressure — Anvil was booed for the same stuff that was Twisted Sister’s schtick. And it was their first time that they’re performing in daylight:

“There was actual conversation — not from me, but from my bandmates — about not putting on our costumes and makeup. I mean, our first song was called ‘What You Don’t Know (Sure Can Hurt You)’ and I wrote it to be performed in silhouette, so the audience couldn’t see us, so they would hear us first and then a third of the way through the song, the lights would come on and we’d go, ‘This is what we look like!’ People would go, ‘Ah! I didn’t expect that’, but they were already taken in by the band.”

“Now we’re gonna walk out in broad daylight and you’ll see — if you can see pictures from that day — Mark ‘The Animal’ Mendoza with his denim vest over the top of his stage costume, sunglasses on covering up his eye makeup.”

“But I’m just like, ‘Look, you know I’ve had so many fights, if I wanted to take this stuff off, it would have been a long time ago.'”

Twisted Sister Movie - Promo clip: Under The Blade, Halloween 1981!

While they were considering what to do, and Dee apparently planning how to physically defend the band, they came Lemmy:

“Lemmy, as I always said, recognized the smell of human feces as he walked past our — because we were shitting our pants — he came in and this is partially thanks to the late Pete Way [producer], late Kilmister, Lemmy Kilmister. Pete was producing ‘Under the Blade’ [Twisted Sister debut album], which hadn’t been released yet, and Pete put a call into Lemmy who was a mate, and said, ‘Hey, man, these are good guys. Take care of them.'”

And, of course, they were supposed to play before Motörhead, which meant that the crowd was a rough one to please. However, despite the crowd holding bottler ready to be thrown at the band, Lemmy helped them out and pretty much saved their ass that day:

“And when we walked down the stage, I’m telling you, you saw the bottles, you saw the cans, you saw the arms up, it would go by like this, and then Lemmy walks out. And then again, he said something in the microphone, which I was told later, was, ‘Here’s a surprise from America, give a listen.'”

Twisted Sister-18.6.1980 Live In New York

Whatever Lemmy did at that point seems to have worked that day. As Dee remembered:

“And everybody just lowered it a little bit, and they stood there and we just went for it. And within minutes, people said, ‘Whoa, these Yanks are insane and crazy. Whatever they look like, this is amazing.'”

Of course, as Dee remembers, it was also about the band delivering a superb performance, not just Lemmy putting in a good word:

“And at the end of that show, one of the most memorable ovations of my career, as we sat in the locker room of the football stadium, 10 minutes after we got off, and my road manager comes, he goes ‘Listen…’ And you could hear the stadium going, ‘TWISTED! SISTER! TWISTED!’ 10 minutes after we were off the stage!'”

Twisted Sister I'm Am I'm Me BBC Top of the Pops 7-4-1983

But it wasn’t the end of it. Lemmy requested a favor in return. Dee had to go out and introduce Motörhead who were the headliners:

“So we’re like, ‘Whoa!’ And then Lemmy walked in and said, ‘I brought you on, you bring Motörhead out’ to me. So like, I’m this punter from the States, and now I walk out to introduce Mo-, I’m getting chills. It was such a moment!”

As Dee also recalls, the tradition went on after that. Lemmy would be introducing Twisted Sister and Twisted Sister would be introducing Motörhead to crowds:

“He’d bring us on, he’d get up and jam with us spontaneously, and this generosity on his part paved the way for us, for acceptance. You go to the Reading Festival, where he rejoined Fast Eddie Clarke — they were having a heated public press battle over the breakup, Fast Eddie leaving Motörhead — and then he comes on stage and joins Fast Eddie, Pete Way, and Twisted Sister for the finale of ‘It’s Only Rock and Roll (But I Like It)’ at Reading and helps to just cement our relationship with the UK.”

Twisted Sister - Stay Hungry (Live 1984) (FULL CONCERT)

Going more into it, Dee then recalled Lemmy’s memorial after his passing and how it went down:

“So I know I’m rambling on, but this is what your people want to hear: we’re at the memorial, and I’m sitting with my wife, and everybody was at the Lemmy memorial — Ozzy was there, Slash and Duff were there, Foo Fighters were there, it goes on and on and on.”

“But beyond that, his shoemaker was there, Pascal Cooper, a family that followed him around Europe, and Lemmy would always invite them backstage because they followed him everywhere. They were there and they all got up and spoke.”

“My wife is very spiritual, and she leans over and says, ‘I think Lemmy was an angel.’ I said, ‘What?'”

TWISTED SISTER - Full Set Performance - Bloodstock 2016

His wife made quite a point by saying:

“‘Because they say that they send angels down to Earth to guide us along on our journey. And I think Lemmy may have been sent down. Listen to these people talking: everybody has a story where Lemmy affected their life, changed their lives, helped them along the way. Every single one of these people — Triple H the wrestler, everyone is getting up there, and everybody’s got a tale to tell about how Lemmy touched their lives.'”

Dee then added:

“And I said, ‘So you’re telling me that God sent down a biker pirate to guide me on my way?’ And she said to me, ‘Would you have listened to someone with long flowing robes?'”

Photos: dr_zoidberg (Dee Snider (14618611813), John Gullo (Lemmy Kilmister Motorhead in NYC by John Gullo)

  • David Slavkovic

    David always planned for music to be nothing more than a hobby. However, after a short career as an agricultural engineer he ended up news editor at KillerGuitarRigs, senior editor at, as well as a freelance contributor to online magazines such as GuitaristNextdoor and brands like Sam Ash.