Twisted Sister singer Dee Snider filed double bankruptcy after becoming rock star: ‘No shame in falling down’

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Dee Snider may have been one of the most iconic rock stars of the ’80s, but his life hasn’t been without struggles.

The Twisted Sister frontman spoke to Fox News Digital in a wide-ranging interview, discussing his musical beginnings in his church choir, his upcoming plans to step foot in the movie industry and a period in his life in which he declared bankruptcy — twice.

The singer, who is the subject of “Biography: Dee Snider,” a new A&E special premiering Sunday at 9 p.m. ET, said that he doesn’t have an issue with discussing those hard times, because “people need to share their failures, not just the successes. You know, people need to know there’s no shame in falling down. And you’re not the only one who falls down.”


Dee Snider went from being a rock star to working a desk job. (Steve Pfost/Newsday RM via Getty Images)

Snider said that in the early ’90s, after Twisted Sister broke up, he “lost everything.”

“Double bankruptcy, my career collapsed,” he said. “I was riding a bicycle to a desk job, answering phones. I was married, had three kids. You know, things just went incredibly south.”

He added, “People need to hear those stories and know they’re not alone.”

Snider explained that he was able to get through those tough times with the help of his “partner in crime” — his wife Suzette, to whom he’s been married for over 40 years.


A photo of Dee Snider and wife Suzette

Dee Snider and wife Suzette have been together for more than 40 years. (Araya Doheny/Getty Images for Cincoro Tequila)

“She’s been by my side forever,” he said. “So I always had someone standing with me and saying, ‘We got this,’ which is great.”

Another thing that helped was the attitude that went along with his biggest hit, “We’re Not Gonna Take It.”

“I’m singing my song to myself,” he revealed. “We’re not gonna take it. I’m going to get out of this. I’m going to get out of this and keep moving forward… And eventually, you know, the radio, voice-over acting, reality TV, movies, I do all those things. And then the band reunited for a while, and that was great.”

The singer noted, “Don’t worry about Dee, he’s kicking a–.”

In 2012, Snider told Fox News Digital more about this rough period of time, saying that after gradually losing money over the years, by 1995 he was “flat broke” — so much so that he and his wife “couldn’t go into a 7-Eleven with our kids because we couldn’t afford to buy them a piece of candy.”

Dee Snider and family

From left: Stacey Snider, Jesse Blaze Snider, Shane Snider, Cheyenne Snider, Dee Snider and Suzette Snider pose backstage at the hit rock musical “Rock of Ages” at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre in New York City on Oct. 11, 2010. (Bruce Glikas/FilmMagic)

He explained, “The ego that gets you to the top that convinces you that you’ll make it, that same ego won’t accept the warning signs. Your ego just won’t let you act smartly. If I had regrouped and downscaled… But no, I just kept spending; I’m a rock star baby! Everything is going to be fine!”

In 2015, Snider sold his music catalog, which included Twisted Sister’s biggest hits, but in the early ’90s, when he was struggling financially, no one was interested in purchasing it.

“I would’ve given it away,” he admitted to “Jackass” star Steve-O on his “Wild Ride” podcast last year. At the time, the kind of metal Snider was known for was “so out of vogue” and the grunge scene had become so popular that he couldn’t sell it.

Things turned around when a Christmas song he’d written years before for his wife was recorded by Celine Dion for her 1998 holiday album “These Are Special Times” — a song called “The Magic of Christmas Day (God Bless Us Everyone).” The tune was a massive success, and Snider owns the publishing rights to it.


The song has some religious undertones, which makes sense, considering Snider’s background.

Twisted Sister

From left: AJ Pero, Eddie Ojeda, Dee Snider, Mark Mendoza and JJ French of Twisted Sister pose backstage at the Reading Festival in Reading, England, on Aug. 29, 1982. (Michael Putland/Getty Images)

“I was a choir boy,” he told Fox News Digital. “I sang in the church choir, too, till I was about 19, but it was kind of simultaneous, interestingly enough, around the same time as I decided to be a rock star. In school, I started having glee club and the church choir, we went to church every Sunday, so I started singing and found out, ‘Oh, well, by the way, he can actually sing.’

“So I was like, ‘Oh, great,’ ’cause it’s tough to be a rock star if you don’t have some talent. So, I was always by day singing in the choir, by night rocking with the band… [they] really sort of fought each other. Guess which won?”


Snider recalls being an “outcast” as a kid, not fitting in anywhere, but said, “When I sang, whether it was in a band or was in choir, I had a home. It didn’t matter how I looked. It didn’t matter [about] my hair. It didn’t matter what I wore. When I opened my mouth and sang, people were like, ‘OK, you can hang. All right.’”

He continued, “So and as I went through life and of course, became famous for Twisted Sister, I went from being this wholly unpopular kid to being the center of attention. Very dangerous, to give an unpopular kid that kind of attention — really goes to our head.”

Snider admitted that there is a “big difference from where I started and what I wound up as.”

When he was 16, he remembers feeling like he was “fading in the background.”

Dee Snider singing

Dee Snider performs onstage at the Magic Stick in Detroit on Oct. 19, 1983. (Paul Natkin/Getty Images)

“I just had this epiphany one day,” he recalled. “I said, ‘I will not go quietly into the night. I don’t need all these people’s approval. I’m just going to become my own biggest fan.’ And, I just sort of changed my whole attitude in general and just being comfortable with being who I was. And that was the start of people actually tuning in and going, ‘Well, this guy’s kind of cool in his own weird way,’ you know? I sort of discovered myself.”

This change in attitude, coupled with the decade that passed between the forming of Twisted Sister and the moment they finally achieved mainstream success, is what inspired the band’s most well-known song, “We’re Not Gonna Take It.”

“We went from being this sort of, ‘Hey, we’re having fun playing rock and roll,’ and then we’re just getting this endless rejection,” Snider explained. “We developed this chip on our shoulders, and there’s this in-your-face attitude.”

He said, “It was really just my life of rejection, you know, and I just felt constantly rejected since I was a kid and told ‘no’ and ‘you can’t’ and ‘not you.’”


Dee Snider performing

Dee Snider said he had a “life of rejection” before hitting it big with Twisted Sister. (Scott Dudelson/Getty Images)


The song “We’re Not Gonna Take It” was written in the “very early ’80s,” he said, though it wasn’t released until 1984. Snider shared, “I wanted to write a song that stated my frustration, but I wanted it to be a song for everybody’s frustration.”

When the tune was released, the Village Voice published a review, Snider said, asking what it was the band was not going to take, and from whom they were not going to take it.

“And I’m screaming at the paper, ‘That’s the point!'” he shared. “It’s what are you not taking from who? It’s your song. It’s not just our song. It’s ‘We’re Not Gonna Take It,’ not ‘I’m Not Gonna Take It.’ And it’s become a song that’s transcended the genre, the era, internationally. It’s like a folk song. Anytime someone’s mad at the world, ‘We’re Not Gonna Take It’ is their go-to.”

Dee Snider of Twisted Sister

Dee Snider says “We’re Not Gonna Take It” has “become a song that’s transcended the genre, the era, internationally.” (Photo by Katja Ogrin)

Twisted Sister broke up in 1988. They’ve reunited briefly over the years, most notably for a farewell tour in 2016. Snider told Fox News Digital that they planned for that tour to be their last hurrah, but offers still keep coming, and he said they’re getting “bigger and bigger every year.”


“We have this theory, like the longer we are away, the bigger we become, the more valuable we become,” he explained. “So we actually did have a conversation like, well, if the numbers got to the stratosphere, should we do the ‘We’re Only in It for the Money’ tour, which is what we’re thinking of calling it. It has a good title. At least it’s honest.”

This post was originally published on Fox News

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