Twisted Sister Guitarist Says Rock Hall ’Refuses to Acknowledge’ Heavy Metal: ’There’s Zero Understanding of What the Genre Is About’

While recently sitting down for an interview with Ultimate Guitar, Twisted Sister guitarist Jay Jay French reflected on how heavy metal usually tends to be disrespected as a genre. In particular, French reflected on music critics and the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and how they’re absolutely oblivious to what the genre is about.

Although eligible since 2005, Twisted Sister have not even been considered to be inducted into the Rock Hall. Nonetheless, they were officially inducted into the institution called the Metal Hall of Fame in 2023 when they also performed at the induction ceremony, the first time since officially calling it quits in 2016. Asked about what this induction meant to him, Jay Jay French replied:

“It’s always wonderful to get that sort of recognition. We’d already gotten that sort of recognition on Long Island as they featured us in the Long Island Music Hall of Fame.

Twisted Sister - We're Not Gonna Take It (Metal Hall of Fame Awards - 1/26/2023)

“We were huge on the local bar scene, and I’m sure we affected thousands of kids’ lives during that time. All that is great, and it’s always an hour to be honored. I’m proud of it, and glad heavy metal is getting its due, too.”

When further asked about metal music and whether he feels “it’s important that we honor metal music in all its forms, and do you feel metal is finally getting its due,” he said:

“History is gonna tell that story. I certainly can’t tell it. It’s always been derided. As you know, the critics have never really warmed up to it.

Twisted Sister (reunion) - Metal Hall of Fame at the Canyon Club Agoura Hills CA 1/26/2023

To elaborate further on this, French recalled how the critics were never kind to the genre, even going back to Led Zeppelin:

“Even back in the days of Led Zeppelin, those guys couldn’t get the respect they deserved. In the early days, I remember seeing Led Zeppelin headline the Fillmore East, and believe it or not, the Woody Herman Orchestra was the special guest that night.

“Think about that for a second. Why do you have a jazz orchestra as a special guest? Well, the review in the New York Times ripped the whole thing and focused on that instead of Zeppelin.

Twisted Sister final farewell performance 'We're Not Gonna Take It'. - Northside Monterrey 11/12/16

As Jay Jay also added, the disrespect has always been there. And, most importantly, neither critics nor an institution like the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame were capable of fully understanding the genre:

“So, there’s always been a lack of respect. I think the problem with critics and the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame is that they refuse to acknowledge that heavy metal probably was what kept the live music industry going in the ’80s. It never gets its due.

One of the bands that ended up waiting a very long time to get inducted was Kiss. And, according to French, this is unacceptable:

“Just look how long they made Kiss wait. There’s zero understanding of what the genre is about. How do you not acknowledge a band that made such an impact as KISS? It’s silly, it’s stupid, and it’s ignorant.”

Further down the chat, French was also asked about Twisted Sister’s performance over at the Metal Hall of Fame and what it was like to be back playing with the guys once again. Well, without A.J. Pero who passed away in 2015 and without the second guitar player Eddie Ojeda who was unable to attend. French replied:

“When we walked off stage for the last time in 2016, we felt good about it. In truth, I thought that the last time would have come a lot sooner. But this time, it was nice to be in the same room and do it all again.

“And, of course, A.J. [Pero] is no longer with us, but it was still pretty special. But A.J. wasn’t with us toward the end anyway. We did two solid years of performances after he died, with Mike Portnoy filling in.

Jay Jay French - Twisted Sister

“Anyway, just before we were supposed to rehearse the induction, our guitar player Eddie Ojeda said he had COVID and couldn’t travel. So, that was a little bit stressful for about half an hour until we realized there was a way to handle it.

“And that was Eddie’s guitar tech, Keith [Robert War], who was out in Los Angeles and is a great player. We just called him, and he flew in from L.A., and as soon as he got there, we knew we were golden.”

Photo: Alfred Nitsch (20140802-350-See-Rock Festival 2014-Twisted Sister-John “Jay Jay” French and Daniel „Dee“ Snider), Derek Jensen (Rock-and-roll-hall-of-fame-sunset)

  • 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.