The surviving members of the classic lineup of TWISTED SISTER — Dee Snider, Jay Jay French, Eddie Ojeda and Mark "The Animal" Mendoza — reunited virtually on Saturday, March 20 for a special episode of Mendoza's Internet TV show "22 Now". The hour-and-a-half-long program was a tribute to the band's late drummer A.J. Pero, who died exactly six years earlier at the age of 55 while on tour with the band ADRENALINE MOB.
A couple of weeks after Pero's death, Snider spoke to TMZ about the loss of his friend. He said: "People ask me how I feel about A.J.'s passing, and, quite honestly, I'm going through a real period of anger right now about it. He was a great guy, and I loved him dearly. But he had a history of heart disease — his family did; his father died in his [50s] of heart disease — and A.J. never had himself checked out. And when they did the autopsy, he had 95 percent blockage, advanced heart disease. And he didn't have to die. And I feel it's, basically, irresponsible behavior on his part. He had two ex-wives and an ex-girlfriend of 19 years, four kids he left behind. And you have a responsibility, as a parent, as an adult, to get yourself checked out."
Dee later defended his comments, saying on his podcast: "People die every day, and I don't go as far as to speak out about the way they chose to go. You know, I spoke out about A.J. because I'm hurt, and his family is hurt, and world he left behind is in complete turmoil as a result of it.
"When we take actions, we always think, 'Oh, it's just affecting me. It's just affecting me,'" he continued. "It's the reality of the other people it's affecting besides yourself. That's where the problem lies. When you take yourself out, and you've got no family, and you've got no friends, and no one's gonna shed a tear for you, that's fine — that's just about you. But when you pilot a plane into the mountain top and take everybody with you, it's not just about you.
"So here I had an opportunity to remind people that, hey, heart disease is just that — it's a disease. Don't put your head in the sand and don't pretend that there's no problem when you know your whole family has a history of any sickness — of cancer, of heart disease, of prostate problems… of whatever it is. I mean, everybody should get checked out, but especially if you're genetically predisposed. And when you have children, young children, like A.J. had, it's not just about you… Especially when your estate isn't in order, like A.J. Pero's was not. And you don't take care of yourself physically, and you die unexpectedly, and way too young, and you leave that kind of mess behind, I still say that's irresponsible behavior. Irresponsible, like doing drugs… because he was drinking, he was smoking… I mean, not excessively. He was partying… not excessively. He was eating poorly. He was overweight. But is that any different than drinking yourself to death? Or doing drugs? Or killing yourself another way? Slowly killing yourself that way? When you know in your heart of hearts that there is a problem, or there is potentially a problem.
"Like I said on the TMZ thing, when they got him to the hospital, he was already gone," Dee added. "He had a massive stroke on the tour bus, followed by a massive heart attack. They got him to the hospital, they autopsied him and they said, 'If he had gotten here and he was still alive, he was too far gone for us to save him.' And this is the day and age of heart transplants and stents and all kinds of… if you believe in drugs for these problems… all kinds of solutions for a relatively young man to not die of heart disease. All he had to do is get checked out and be monitored. That's all it takes. So I saw an opportunity, on TMZ, to speak out, to say these things and maybe remind some people out there of their responsibility to their family, of their responsibility to their kids, to their loved ones. Not their band, not their fans.
"To see his girlfriend of nineteen years, who is not, like, accepted by his family. Nineteen years… But I guess… I'm not sure… She may have been 'the other woman' at one point or something… with a young daughter, having to go on the GoFundMe site and put up… try to raise money to pay her rent. 'Cause she can't get any money, 'cause she's not legally married to him. And A.J. had no estate planning, so all of his assets are completely frozen. And until it's all figured out — there was no will, there was no nothing — until it's all figured out, we, as a band, can't even funnel money to his girlfriend and his daughter, or his other children. Our hands are tied as well. So here she is on social media essentially begging for money to feed her child and pay the rent. That is just grotesque. It's awful, it's terrible. And that makes you angry at your friend, at your dear friend, A.J. Pero. It made me angry. [I wanted to say] 'Dude, what did you freakin' do? What did you do?' The minute you start getting married, having kids, creating that responsibility to others — that's exactly what it is: responsibility — you've lost your right — yes, you have lost your right — to be cavalier, or casual, with things like your health, and your estate, and your economics. I'm sorry — you have lost your right."
TWISTED SISTER rose to prominence from the New York club scene in the early 1980s. Their biggest album, 1984's "Stay Hungry", contained the hits "We're Not Gonna Take It" and "I Wanna Rock".
In addition to touring with TWISTED SISTER and ADRENALINE MOB, Pero also played with former and current members of IRON MAIDEN and DISTURBED in a band called THE FOUNDRY. He also hosted drum clinics and seminars.
Prior to last night's virtual reunion, the four surviving members of TWISTED SISTER reunited for two days and nights in November 2019 to celebrate the 35th anniversary of the band's classic album "Stay Hungry".
TWISTED SISTER called it quits in 2016 after completing a farewell 40th-anniversary tour. The band's last-ever concert took place in November of that year — 20 months after the passing of Pero.