TWISTED SISTER's JAY JAY FRENCH: How GUNS N' ROSES Survived Grunge
June 30, 2020
TWISTED SISTER guitarist Jay Jay French spoke to Daniel Sarkissian of the "Rock Is Dead?" documentary about how the rise of grunge in the early 1990s forced most hard rock bands off the radio and MTV, with album and tour sales plummeting.
"The only band that leapfrogged and saved themselves was GUNS N' ROSES," Jay Jay said (see video below). "And my theory is that GUNS N' ROSES was not perceived as a joke. They came out of L.A., but I think that Axl [Rose], first of all, had a great voice. I think that they were perceived as real, not fake. Like, they were real junkies, not pretend junkies. So there's an authenticity. It's all about authenticity, and grunge is all about authenticity. People wanted authenticity, so they got it with grunge. It wiped out the perceived frivolousness of hair metal, which is, 'Hey, man. Let's party. Let's get the girls and drink.' I think people just got sick of that, and they wanted [something more] authentic."
Upon release in September 1991, NIRVANA's "Smells Like Teen Spirit" wreaked confusion upon the hair metal vanguard, putting an end to an era dominated by glamorous, androgynous and sparkly rock stars who absolutely saturated the radio waves and were almost exclusively what aired on MTV.
Former MÖTLEY CRÜE singer John Corabi told Newsday in a 2014 interview that the CRÜE album he sang on was a commercial disappointment because the music scene had changed, with hair metal brushed aside for grunge.
"Everybody was listening to ALICE IN CHAINS and SOUNDGARDEN," Corabi said. "At that point, we were considered passé."
According to Corabi, CRÜE's ill-fated 1994 American tour " was a nightmare. We weren't selling tickets. It was just horrible," he said.
After working with Corabi for two years on a follow-up album, "Generation Swine", CRÜE dropped the singer and reunited with Vince Neil.
Despite Neil's return, "Generation Swine" sold poorly when it was released in 1997.
Last year, former TNT singer Tony Harnell said that the rise of the grunge movement, which symbolized the working-class spirit and focused on music over image, was ultimately a positive thing for the rock genre because it "shined a really harsh light on how boring and repetitive" the '80s glam metal scene had become. He explained: "It was the same look, the same songwriters, the same producers, and it just started to be… Nobody was offering anything… Don't get me wrong, there were a few that got in there that were interesting and different, but, for the most part, they were all just sort of rehashes, slightly, of other bands."