Jay Jay French
Jay Jay French (born John French Segall, July 20, 1952) is an American guitarist, manager and record producer. He is a founding member of the heavy metal band Twisted Sister, who enjoyed immense commercial success in the mid-1980s. As of 2019, French is retired from recording and performing.
Jay Jay French
Jay Jay French performing in 2016 with his Ruokangas guitar
|Birth name||John French Segall|
|Born||July 20, 1952|
New York City, New York, U.S.
|Associated acts||Twisted Sister|
Born in New York City, French grew up on Manhattan. His father, Lou Segall, was a jewelry salesman. His mother, Evaline French Segall, was a political consultant for the Democratic Party in New York, and worked for the John F. Kennedy presidential campaign. Evaline also ran the successful election campaign of Constance Baker Motley, the first black female state senator of New York.
French has one older brother, Jeff Segall.
French was an anti-Vietnam war and civil rights activist. In the summer of 1967, he attended the Shaker Village summer program, and was a bunkmate of Ben Chaney, brother of James Chaney, one of the three murdered civil rights workers who died on a voting registration drive in Mississippi in 1964. These events were later portrayed in Alan Parker's movie Mississippi Burning in 1988.
The seeds for French's musical life were planted in 1963, when he attended his first concert, seeing the folk group The Weavers in Carnegie Hall.
Only two months before his graduation, French dropped out of George Washington High School, as a protest to the student murders at Kent State University on May 4, 1970.
In 1972, French auditioned for an early edition of what would become Wicked Lester, featuring Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley. However, after two rehearsals, they moved on to more auditions, and French chose to create his own musical path.
In December of the same year, he joined the New Jersey-based glitter band "Silverstar". The band changed its name to Twisted Sister in February 1973. At that time, in addition to French, the band consisted of Michael Valentine (vocals), Billy Diamond (guitar), Kenneth Harrison Neill (bass) and Mell Star (drums). This version of Twisted Sister existed until December 1974.
In 1975, French hired Rick Prince (vocals) and Keith Angel (guitars), but after a few months, French took over the vocals himself.
In October 1975, Eddie Ojeda replaced Keith Angel on guitars, and Daniel Dee Snider joined the band in February 1976, to relieve French from his vocalist duties. Other significant member changes in the history of Twisted Sister include the addition of Tony Petri (drums, April 1976), Mark Mendoza (bass, December 1978), Richie Teeter (drums, December 1980), Joey Brighton (drums, April 1981), Anthony AJ Pero (drums, April 1982) and Joey “Seven” Franco (drums, 1987).
The early editions of Twisted Sister performed six nights a week, often performing five 40-minute sets each night, including costume changes. Gradually, the band's glam image and musical influences were changed into a heavier direction, being influenced by artists like Led Zeppelin, Slade and Alice Cooper.
French, in addition to being one of the band's guitar players, took over the manager position from 1975 to 1979, and from 1988 to present day.
Twisted Sister´s first album release was the EP Ruff Cutts (Secret, 1982).
The band´s debut studio album, Under The Blade, was released in September 1982.
Twisted Sister released five studio albums in the period of 1982 to 1987: Under The Blade (1982), You Can’t Stop Rock’n’Roll (1983), Stay Hungry (1984), Come Out And Play (1985) and Love Is For Suckers (1987).
Following the departure of singer Dee Snider and guitarist Eddie Ojeda, French decided, together with bass player Mark Mendoza, that Twisted Sister should stop performing live in 1987.
French started his own management company, French Management Enterprises, and his own production company, Rebellion Music Inc. From 1988, he took over the management of Twisted Sister again, dealing with the music catalog. He also signed R&B singer George Taylor, in addition to artists like blues legend Johnny Gale, David Forman, Thom Jack and Ean Evans' Cupid's Arrow.
In 1988, French became a Grammy voting member.
As owner of the Twisted Sister trademark and again manager of its affairs, French also began to produce new Twisted Sister album releases, such as the compilation album Big Hits & Nasty Cuts.
In partnership with Dennis Berardi, president of Kramer Guitars, French signed the Atlanta, Georgia-based hard rock band "Redd Threat". Over the next seven years, Redd Threat changed its name and personnel multiple times, and by 1995, the band was called "Snake Nation". French told the drummer Morgan Rose, that if he ever hooked up with a great R&B singer, Lajon Witherspoon from the band “Body & Soul”, he would be interested in managing the band. Later, French received a phone call from Rose, confirming that Witherspoon was on board, and they renamed the band "Crawlspace". French travelled to Atlanta and produced a demo for the band, including the songs “Black” and “Bitch”.
French signed the band to Rebellion Music, and within a year, French signed a production deal with TVT Records. Due to trademark issues, Crawlspace changed its name to "Sevendust". French and Mark Mendoza produced the self-titled debut album, and executive produced the following three Sevendust-albums. With French at the helm, Sevendust became one of the biggest new breed of metal bands called nu metal, and sold over six million albums.
Sevendust and French parted ways in 2000, due to creative differences.
French then joined forces with an old friend, former Sony Records executive Sean Sullivan, and founded a new management company called Rebellion Entertainment. The company signed many different artists, representing a variety of musical styles, including New Jersey alternative metal band The Step Kings, south Asian pop artist Tina Sugandh, singer-songwriter Julian Velard, the Grammy-nominated Latin percussion group "The Groove Collective" and the alternative band and RCA recording artists The Sound of Urchin.
On June 10, French received the New Hampshire Excellence in Education award for "Efforts to Curb Substance abuse Among Young People".
Following the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center, Twisted Sister reunited as a performing unit to play a November 2001 fundraiser, organized by Eddie Trunk, for the Widows and Orphans Fund for the New York City Police and Fire Department.
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This performance led to promoters from all over the world sending in offers to see the band on stage again, and the band started to perform regularly again beginning in 2003. In the years following, the band has performed to record-breaking audiences all over the world, including United Kingdom, North America, most European countries and South America. The band has also performed in South Korea at three different US army bases, through a USO sponsored tour.
With the band´s popularity again rising, French´s performing manager role has become a full-time occupation. Besides performing, the band´s activities have also included the creation and production of six new DVDs, two new albums, and a re-mastering of the entire catalog of previous releases.
The band has released a Christmas show - available on DVD.
The band has established a tradition of performing at least one benefit show, every year, for causes that are near and dear to each band member.
The songs "We're Not Gonna Take It" and "I Wanna Rock" are universally recognized[by whom?] and have been featured in numerous television shows and commercials, radio commercials, product sponsorships, movies, major sports events and political events.
With the advent of iTunes and other online music services, recording artists soon recognized that their previous recording contracts were now obsolete and unfair.
Seeing that this presented what it felt was an unfair and inequitable change in how it was compensated for its songs Twisted Sister took the initiative in the re-recording of its songs in order to reestablish the band's ownership of its music.
As a result of its success in reestablishing ownership in its music and standing up for what it felt was its due compensation, Twisted Sister set the stage for what eventually became the industry standard.
In 2007, French and Twisted Sister were first year inductees of the Long island Music Hall of Fame.
The Pinkburst ProjectEdit
In 1996, French's daughter Samantha was diagnosed with uveitis, a condition of the eye. In 2010, to raise money and awareness, French created "The Pinkburst Project". The project auctioned off several pink guitars and amplifiers.
In 2018 French courted controversy when he stated that the current incarnations of Judas Priest and Foreigner were essentially "cover bands" due to most of their classic lineups being no longer involved, comparing them unfavorably to Twisted Sister of whom he stated: "Every [Twisted Sister] show is perfect. Every show is the last show of our life. Every show is done with the sincerity and the heartfelt desire to make sure you walk out thinking that's the best thing you're ever gonna see."
In 2019, French stated that he is "blissfully retired", with no desire to ever perform again. After Twisted Sister's final performance in Mexico, French gifted all of his guitars to members of the band's road crew: "I said, 'Guys, thank you. It's been great. See you later.' I never looked back." During his career with Twisted Sister, French estimates that he performed live with the band in over 9,000 concert performances worldwide.
- (editor), EvilG (June 25, 2012). "Twisted Sister guitarist Jay Jay French Interview on Dee Snider/Manowar/and the origins of Twisted Sister". Metal Rules. Retrieved May 23, 2014.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
- Smith, DeAnn (June 4, 2013). "Dee Snider: 'People are going crazy' over Twisted Sister trademark fight". KCTV 5 News. Retrieved May 23, 2014.
- Louie, Tim (January 19, 2011). "Interview With Clint Lowery From Sevendust: Metal On Top". The Aquarian. Retrieved 23 May 2014.
- "Twisted Sister's Jay Jay French Defends Band's Decision To Play Select Shows And Not Make New Music". Blabbermouth. May 6, 2014. Retrieved 23 May 2014.
- Halbersberg, Elianne (January 17, 2011). "The Pinkburst Project". Premier Guitar. Archived from the original on 12 March 2015. Retrieved 23 May 2014.
- "Pinkburst Project".
- Kjeldgaard, Alison (May 2, 2013). "Musical Fads Come and Go, But Rock Withstands Decades: Jay Jay French Talks about Respecting One's Fans and the Fads of Today's Music Industry". Galo. Retrieved May 23, 2014.
- "TWISTED SISTER's JAY JAY FRENCH Says JUDAS PRIEST And FOREIGNER Have Turned Into 'Cover Bands'". BLABBERMOUTH.NET. 2018-04-22. Retrieved 2018-04-23.
- "Jay Jay French: A Twisted Christmas". Epiphone. September 29, 2006. Retrieved May 23, 2014.