During the summer of 1984, you couldn’t go anywhere without hearing “We’re Not Gonna Take It” by Twisted Sister. To me, a 14 year-old kid, that song was a young rebel’s anthem. It embodied everything I wanted to say to the establishment!
Just as fall arrived and I was heading back to school to be under the control of teachers, “We’re Not Gonna Take It” peaked at #21.
Despite a very respectable catalog of heavy metal music, Twisted Sister never had another Top 40 single.
It would have been easy for Dee Snider to simply disappear into rock ‘n’ roll nostalgia as yet-another one hit wonder.
But that’s not what happened.
Instead, Dee Snider became the host of MTV’s Headbangers Ball and later very publicly testified in front of the Senate in order to protect musical integrity and save albums from having parental advisory warnings. Very quickly, Dee Snider became known as an intelligent voice of reason in hard rock.
Dee went on to write horror movie scripts, compose music for TV shows, and become the host of a nationally syndicated radio show called House of Hair. He has hosted various TV shows, appeared on several reality TV shows, created voice overs for cartoon and video games, and stars in Dee Snider’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Christmas Tale, a theatrical production at the Winter Garden Theatre in Toronto.
Dee Snider is a fantastic example of an artist who has expanded his brand far beyond the 1984 chart success of “We’re Not Gonna Take It”. Nearly 32 years later, he remains a relevant artist and entrepreneur.
And his iconic hard rock song continues to capture the rebellious imagination of every 14 year-old boy.
How did Dee Snider evolve his brand so well, when so many others failed?
He created a powerful audio and visual image, and embraced it.
The Dee Snider of the “We’re Not Gonna Take It” video has a little more hair and make up than the Dee Snider of today, but he’s still a long-haired heavy metal singer. While other people tried to change when “hair bands” apparently went out of style, Dee celebrated it with his House of Hair radio show.
He took on new projects that contributed to his image.
Hosting a TV show called Dead Art about the beauty of old cemeteries was a perfect extension of his heavy metal image. His Halloween project, Van Helsing’s Curse, went from a concept album to touring production narrated by Snider. Snider has even brought his heavy metal approach to the holiday season with his Christmas production.
He has let his fans behind the curtain.
From the 1980s when he read his lyrics and their meaning to the Senate, to his family’s reality TV show Growing Up Twisted, Dee has famously let his fans see the real him. His radio shows have allowed him to reveal himself regularly, and his fans feel a true connection to who Dee Snider really is.
Dee Snider, at 60 years old, is well-removed from his band’s one big Top 40 hit. But if you look at the Top 40 chart from the summer of 1984, there are few artists who have persevered, adapted, and built their brand better than Dee Snider.