Report: TWISTED SISTER Show To Benefit Sick Roadie

June 10, 2005

The Associated Press has issued the following report:

Charlie Barreca is too sick to rock 'n' roll, but too young to die.

The longtime sound man for the heavy metal group TWISTED SISTER, Barreca needs a liver transplant, but has nothing left from the money he made traveling around the world, making sure every dirty word that flew from Dee Snider's lips was heard clearly.

Gathering his strength for the surgery and struggling to keep the modest house where he, his wife and two sons live, Barreca is getting an assist from the band. They're playing a benefit concert for him in July to help defray the cost of his transplant, and help pay for follow-up care, which could cost $10,000 a year for the rest of his life.

"This is one of the hard stories about the music business: There are no benefits," Snider told The Associated Press. "There is no medical, there is no retirement plan. There's no real union for sound men. Once the money runs out and you get older, you've got no retirement fund. You retire with what you put away, and your memories, and that's it.

"The guy dedicated his life to rock 'n ' roll," Snider said. "As his friends, we feel an obligation and a responsibility to a friend in need."

Barreca, 63, fell ill in January after steadily losing weight last fall. His liver had been damaged beyond repair by hepatitis C; he says he was never a heavy drinker or drug user.

He became so weak he couldn't lift an 8-ounce glass of water to his lips during a two-week stay at University Hospital in Newark, which recently sent him a bill for $78,000.

"I was lime green, and down to 135 pounds," said Barreca, who has since regained about 30 pounds. "I was creepy-looking."

He was put on the nationwide waiting list for a liver transplant — something that was necessary before he could even be considered for surgery.

Paying for it is another matter, though. While Medicaid should help with the surgery costs, the cost of aftercare, including anti-rejection drugs, is staggering. Barreca has no health insurance, and his wife's union policy ends in six months.

That's where TWISTED SISTER's July 15 show at The Electric Factory in Philadelphia comes in, with a goal of raising at least $100,000 for Barreca's medical costs.

"Charlie is an old, dear friend," said guitarist Jay Jay French, who met him on Bermuda's Elbow Beach in July 1969.

"He is a beautiful man, just a great guy," French said. "The band has always loved Charlie as a person, loved him."

He worked the sound board for more than 3,000 TWISTED shows between 1975 and 1986, including 250-300 a year at some points. The quintet best known for "We're Not Gonna Take It" considered him a member of the group, cutting him in on a percentage of their merchandising revenues, and credited him on their album jackets as Charlie "Sixth Sister" Barreca.

He even met his future wife at a TWISTED SISTER show at The Final Exam in Randolph.

"Me and my friends were hanging out around the sound board because that's the best place to be at a concert," Laura Barreca said. "I had this really long blonde hair, and I was shaking it around, and it got tangled in the sound knobs. He said, `Nice hair; now get it away from my board.' Three months later, we were married."

When Charlie was hospitalized, his wife called French, who immediately suggested a benefit concert.

"It made me cry," said Charlie Barreca. "We've sold just about everything we have; I don't want to lose the house. This will help."

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