MY DAD IS DEE SNIDER

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“TWISTED SISTER” – LONG ISLAND, NY – 1976-Present – Hair Metal

I’ve been hearing my dad’s music my entire life. As far back as I can remember, on my family’s VCR sat 3 VHS’s, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles the movie, ET and Twisted Sister’s music video compilation. I’d watch my father drag Mark Metcalf down the stairs and snarl at the camera without batting an eyelash over and over and over again. It’s weird to think of all the questions I didn’t ask.

I never wondered why he was dressed so funny or why he was beating up this father character. I didn’t even realize the band was wearing anything out of the ordinary. To me, bands were like super-heroes or cartoons, they had outfits they wore all the time, that’s how people knew they were one of the good guys… or bad guys… or group of screaming war-ready up-rising transvestites.

Fun fact: I once was wearing women’s clothing in middle school and when my friend said “Isn’t that a girls shirt?” I said “Maybe… why?” thinking that this was something perfectly normal to be doing. But I was born into my father’s dark years. Twisted Sister was long gone and so was all of his money. My mother did all the make-up, logo and costume design for the band so when it went under, she lost her job too.

My father road his mountain bike to his job working as my uncle’s secretary making just over minimum wage while my mother took care of me and my 2 brothers. Apparently, “rock star” isn’t enough experience to have on a resume to get a decent job. Sometimes my father would would perform with a group called the SMF’s at small bars with maybe 20 people in attendance. Many of which were not there for the show.

I’d watch these shows and wonder what happened. Why wasn’t he dressed like a silly monster anymore? Why isn’t it like the way it used to be? I wonder if my and my brothers’ obsession with the music videos hurt him. A lot of the footage in the videos would be of Twisted Sister performing in packed out houses and coliseums, jamming out on beautiful cars and being rock stars. But under a leaky roof, with a lawn made of dirt and nothing but a station wagon to wash, it was clear there was a large part of my father’s life I just wasn’t around for…. and whatever part that was, it was important.

Part of me wishes I could have seen him in his heyday mostly because I know in that small time span where he was at his peak was always what he had been striving for. Of course he’s better now. He’s making more money, more steadily and he knows how to handle himself in the industry. But I’ll still always wonder what it would have been like to be his son, way back when. –Shane Snider

POINT BLANK

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DALLAS, TX – 1974-1982 – Southern Rock

All the time growing up. His first band was Blackbird with Stevie Ray Vaughan and he followed with Point Blank which ended up with a radio hit in 1981-82 called “Nicole.” Although Nicole was the top hit, I linked my favorite youtube video below. My Dad played dueling guitars across Rusty Burns who is still pretty big in the DFW/Texas area. The band reunited a decade later and still does shows. My Dad passed in 2010. –Kelly Lewis, daughter of guitarist Kim Davis.

BILLY & THE BUTTONS

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KENT, CT – 1980s – Rock

Visiting my grandparents’ house in the summer in rural Connecticut was pretty boring except for two things: the swimming pool and the VHS tapes of my uncle’s old band, Billy and the Buttons. They made a lot of music videos, all of them hilarious and over the top. They were a goofy 1980s rock band (emphasis on the goofy) comprised of art school nerds, and their song, “Try it You’ll Like it,” became an anthem for my family. I was reminded of Billy and the Buttons the first time I heard “Love Shack” by the B-52′s because of how unabashedly weird it is. –Megan Morrissey, niece of Bill Dougal.

MY DAD IS IN DEATH

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DETROIT, MI – 1974-Present – Proto-Punk

As a kid, I was always surrounded by music. My father and uncle played in a Vermont based reggae band called Lambsbread. For many years I only knew my father and uncle as reggae musicians. My other uncle (David) lived in Detroit and would come up to Vermont and visit from time to time. Uncle Dave was a musician as well. I always knew that my dad and two uncles shared something special together, I just didn’t know what it was at the time.

Many years later, I found out that I had a natural attraction to aggressive music, skateboarding and collecting records. At age 15, I played in my first punk band. I had no idea that I was actually priming myself for a very important musical discovery, within my own family.

I was 30 years old. My father had mentioned that he was getting a lot of strange calls and emails about his old band DEATH. My brothers and I found a few tracks that someone posted on a music blog. After hearing two songs of their out of print 45, I completely lost my mind. The music was raw like the Stooges, soulful like Motown, lightning fast like the Ramones with socially relevant lyrics. At times my father’s voice sounded like a cross between Rob Tyner (of the MC5) and H.R. (of the Bad Brains). What the hell is going on? When my father told me that the songs were recored in 1974, I really couldn’t believe it. My dad and uncle’s were punk before punk was punk. Mind blowing. –Bobby Hackney Jr. of Rough Francis, son of bassist/singer Bobby Hackney.

A Band Called Death in theaters today – see full dates/theater list here.

ISTARI

Istari

BROCKTON, MA – 1976-1981 – Rock

ISTARI was always an enigma to me growing up. I understood that my dad was passionate about music, and that it brought him a tremendous amount of joy, but there was also a strong undercurrent of tragedy with the band. I think one of the reasons I am driven to write songs is that I want to understand the process of being a musician; to be a part of the mystery and magic I felt watching them play. I also wonder if deep down inside, my desire to write and play music might be a way to be truly heard by my father. If karma can be passed on between generations, perhaps, in some small way, I can leave a new legacy without the loss and disappointment. –Alicyn Packard, daughter leader singer David Packard

MY DAD WAS IN PRINCE & THE REVOLUTION

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MINNEAPOLIS, MN – 1977-1987 – Funk/Rock/R&B

I have grown up connected with, and drawn to, a particular type of music because of my father. Years ago he was a young musician living in Minneapolis who happened to befriend a talented kid by the name of Prince. The two of them blossomed their friendship into a close work relationship, as my father became Prince’s drummer in 1977, under the name, Bobby Z. The Revolution reigned until 1987. Their music is embedded in who I am, and I’m not sure I’d been on this earth without it. –Joey Rivkin, son of drummer Bobby Z.

MY DAD WAS IN OINGO BOINGO

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LOS ANGELES, CA – 1972-1995 – New Wave

Prior to Boingo, my dad (far left in the picture above) played for Helen Reddy regularly and picked up many shows playing for others, Peter Allen, playing on the Johnny Carson Show, playing at Disneyland, etc. I can’t imagine how many times I saw Helen Reddy play. (MGM Las Vegas, The Midnight Special, et al). My earliest memories of seeing him play live date back to when I was 3 or so. I feel like I grew up carrying parts of his drum kit or standing in the wings.

He joined Boingo back when they were the Mystic Nights of the Oingo Boingo, and I have very vivid memories of seeing them in the beginning as they were very theatrical: Danny would come out dressed as the devil in white tails with glittery red horns. They project reels of old cartoons. At one point they all came out in gorilla suits. So, you can imagine that was pretty thrilling/wild for a kid (I was around 6/7 at this time). I loved their music & the show. Danny was was the first redhead I can recall meeting and I remember that alone seemed weird & intriguing. From that period on it was lots of shows at The Whiskey, The Roxy with tons of great Alt bands, going to the US Festivals etc. Growing up in the music business in the 1970s in Los Angeles (literally growing up), has definitely shaped me. –Rio Hernandez, daughter of John “Vatos” Hernandez.

MY DAD WAS IN STARZ

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NEW JERSEY – 1975-1979; 1980; 1990; 2003-Present – Hard Rock

I think I was like 15 or something… I heard Starz’s concept album “Violation”, which is set in the future. It’s very much like 1984. They want everyone to be exactly the same and they have this machine that will take your individuality away. The last song on the album “Is That A Streetlight or the Moon?” happens when the main character goes through the “treatment” and can’t tell if the light he sees is a streetlight or the moon, because his brain is so fried. –Jamie Harkin, daughter of guitarist Brenden Harkin. 

MAX TRIXI

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CARLSBAD, NM – 1987-1991 – Heavy Metal

I was so young, and it was always around that I don’t remember a time without it. I was born in 1981, but my Dad had already been in a few bands. Then once Max Trixi was founded and incorporated my Mother doing vocals it was our whole life. My friends were the sons of the manager and other musicians. I remember playing pool in a bar because we didn’t have a sitter, so I was out all night. Band practice shook the whole house. It was normal to me because it was all I had ever known. It wasn’t until years later that I was able to appreciate the unique and fun environment I was raised in and gloat to my friends how cool my parents were.

It’s fun to look back, and my Dad made a facebook page and reverbnation page for the band so I can listen to them anytime I like. Wish we had better recordings, but time was not kind to the tapes or the masters.–Ryan Young, son of Kenny Young.

LIGHT YEAR

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SAN FRANCISCO, CA – 1974-1976 – Prog Rock/Fusion

When I first heard Light Year I was very young, and my brother and I would make fun of it mercilessly. Over the years, and after becoming a musician myself, I grew to appreciate it more and more and now I really respect and enjoy it. In fact a few years ago I campaigned to get some of their recordings released in album form and was actually successful, to my surprise. –Sean McGrath, son of Zack McGrath.

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