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Jay Jay French

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Jay Jay French
Jay Jay French performing in 2016 with his Ruokangas guitar
Jay Jay French performing in 2016 with his Ruokangas guitar
Background information
Birth nameJohn French Segall
Born (1952-07-20) July 20, 1952 (age 69)
New York City, New York, U.S.
GenresHeavy metal
Years active1973–present
Associated actsTwisted Sister

Jay Jay French (born John French Segall, July 20, 1952) is an American guitarist, manager, record producer and founding member of the heavy metal band Twisted Sister.[1] He is a columnist, author and motivational speaker who oversees licensing and intellectual property rights for the Twisted Sister brand.[2]

Early life and education

French was born in New York City the youngest of two sons to father Lou Segall, a jewelry salesman, and mother Evaline French Segall, a political consultant for the Democratic Party in New York who worked for the John F. Kennedy presidential campaign. His mother also ran the successful election campaign of Constance Baker Motley, the first African American woman elected to the New York State Senate.[3] He and his brother Jeff Segall grew up in Manhattan.

The seeds for French's musical life were planted in 1963 when he attended his first concert, the folk group The Weavers at Carnegie Hall.[4]

He 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. The events were portrayed in Alan Parker's 1988 film Mississippi Burning.

Two months before graduation, French dropped out of George Washington High School, as a protest to the student murders at Kent State University on May 4, 1970.[5]



French auditioned in 1972 for an early version of Wicked Lester,[6] featuring Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley.

In December of that year, he joined the New Jersey-based glitter band Silverstar, which changed its name in 1973 to Twisted Sister.[7] The band also included Michael Valentine (vocals), Billy Diamond (guitar), Kenneth Harrison Neill (bass) and Mell Star (drums).[8]

In 1975, French hired Rick Prince on vocals and Keith Angel on guitars. Soon after, French took over the vocals.[9]

In late 1975, Eddie Ojeda replaced Keith Angel on guitars, and Daniel Dee Snider joined the band in February 1976,[10] 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).

Early editions of Twisted Sister performed six nights a week, with five 40-minute sets each night, including costume changes. Gradually, the band's glam image and music changed into a heavier direction, with influences by artists such as Led Zeppelin, Slade and Alice Cooper.[11]

French, in addition to being one of the band's guitar players, took over as manager from 1975 to 1979, and from 1988 to today.[12]


Twisted Sister's first album release was the EP Ruff Cutts in 1982 by Secret Records.[13]

Twisted Sister released five studio albums between 1982 and 1987, including 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).

Fashion critic Richard Blackwell named Twisted Sister to Mr. Blackwell's Worst-dressed List of 1984, ranking them No. 11[14] and calling them "a car crash in a whorehouse."[15]

Following the departure of singer Dee Snider and guitarist Eddie Ojeda, French along with bass player Mark Mendoza made a move in 1987 to cease performing live.

French French Management Enterprises and the 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, blues legend Johnny Gale,[16] David Forman, Thom Jack, Ean Evans' Cupid's Arrow and Tina Sugandh for her debut record.[17]

In 1988, French became a Grammy voting member.


As owner of the Twisted Sister trademark and manager of its affairs, French began producing new Twisted Sister album releases, including the compilation album Big Hits and Nasty Cuts: The Best of Twisted Sister.[18]

In partnership with Dennis Berardi, president of Kramer Guitars, French signed the Atlanta-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 later renamed the band Crawlspace.[19]

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.[20] French and Mark Mendoza produced the self-titled debut album, and executive produced the following three Sevendust-albums. Sevendust became one of the biggest new breed of metal bands, called nu metal, and sold over 1 million albums.


Sevendust and French parted ways in 2000.[19] French then partnered with friend and former Sony Records executive Sean Sullivan, and founded a new management company called Rebellion Entertainment. The company signed 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.[21]

On June 10, French received the New Hampshire Excellence in Education award for "Efforts to Curb Substance abuse Among Young People".

In November 2001, Twisted Sister reunited following the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center for a November 2001 fundraiser, organized by Eddie Trunk, to benefit the Widows and Orphans Fund for the New York City police and fire departments.[22]

The performance led to the band has performing for audiences worldwide, including United Kingdom, North America, European countries and South America. The band has also performed in South Korea at US army bases, through a USO sponsored tour.[23]

The band's activities included the creation and production of six new DVDs, two new albums, and a re-mastering of the entire catalog of previous releases, including re-recording in 2004 tracks from their 1984 Stay Hungry album under the new title Still Hungry, which includes the rock anthems "I Wanna Rock" and "We're Not Gonna Take It."[24]

French signed with Razor & Tie for the 2006 release of the band's "A Twisted Xmas - Live In Las Vegas" on DVD, CD, and Digital Video/Audio.[25] The songs "We're Not Gonna Take It" and "I Wanna Rock" have been featured in commercials, movies, and political and sporting events, including in a Super Bowl ad.[26]

With the advent of iTunes and other online music services, Twisted Sister reestablished the band's ownership of its music.

In 2007, French and Twisted Sister were first year inductees of the Long island Music Hall of Fame.[27]

French stated in 2018 current incarnations of Judas Priest and Foreigner were cover bands because most of their classic lineups were no longer involved. He compared them unfavorably to Twisted Sister, stating, "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."[28]

In 2019, French announced his retirement following Twisted Sister's last live performance, which included an appearance by KISS, in Monterrey, Mexico.[29] French gifted his guitars to members of the band's road crew, saying, 'Guys, thank you. It's been great. See you later.' I never looked back."[1] During his career with Twisted Sister, French estimates that he performed live with the band in more than 9,000 concert performances worldwide.[30]

The Pinkburst Project

In 1996, French's daughter Samantha was diagnosed at age 6 with Uveitis,[31] a condition of the eye. In 2010, to raise money and awareness, French created The Pinkburst Project.[32] The project collected 14 pink custom-made guitars crafted by brands that included Fender, Gibson, Gretsch and Martin.

At a benefit concert, “The Pinkburst Project: An Evening with Twisted Sister," the guitars were auctioned off. The auction and concert raised more than $110,000 for the Ocular Immunology and Uveitis Foundation for research, education and support for those affected by Uveitis and other inflammatory eye diseases.[31]

Writing and speaking

French writes a business column for titled "The French Connection."[33]

He is also a motivational speaker at corporate and business conferences,[34] including at an Inc. 500 conference.[35]

He is a contributing editor to Goldmine magazine for a Beatles column titled "Now We're Sixty Four!"[33]

He also writes a general music column titled "Twisted Systems" for the online music magazine Copper.[36]


A business memoir, Twisted Business: We're Not Gonna Take it Anymore, co-written with French by Extreme Leadership founder, leadership speaker and author Steve Farber, is set for release in 2021 by RosettaBooks.[37]

Personal life

French shares one daughter, Samantha, with his second wife Janice Brock. His first wife, Jodie Glickman, sang in the chorus on Twisted Sister's Live at Wacken: The Reunion album[38] and is sister to the band's bass player, Mark Mendoza. French lives on the Upper West Side of Manhattan with his third wife Sharon Gitelle, whom he married in Las Vegas in 2016 after a 13-year courtship.[39]

An avid runner, French has taken part in and completed two New York Marathons, in 1981 and 1986.[40]


  1. ^ a b "TWISTED SISTER's 'Blissfully Retired' Guitarist JAY JAY FRENCH Has 'No Desire' To Play Again". BLABBERMOUTH.NET. February 13, 2019.
  2. ^ Giles, Jeff. "Twisted Sister's Jay Jay French Explains Band's Refusal to Allow Trump Campaign's Use of 'We're Not Gonna Take It'". Ultimate Classic Rock.
  3. ^ "Barack Obama's new rock anthem". Ticket News. Retrieved July 9, 2020.
  4. ^ Popoff, Martin (2017). AC/DC: Album by Album. Voyageur Press. p. 249. ISBN 9780760353745. Retrieved July 9, 2020.
  5. ^ Rollins, Jay (December 6, 2016). "Twisted Special Holiday Interview with Twisted Sister's".
  6. ^ (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)
  7. ^ "Jay Jay French - Twisted Sister". Ruokangas Guitars.
  8. ^ "Twisted Sister 2nd Lineup Portrait: Kenneth Harrison-Neill, JJ French, Michael Valentine, Billy Diamond..." Getty Images. January 1975. Retrieved July 20, 2020.
  9. ^ "Twisted Sister | Albums, Songs, Members". Metal Kingdom.
  10. ^ Smith, DeAnn (June 4, 2013). "Dee Snider: 'People are going crazy' over Twisted Sister trademark fight". KCTV 5 News. Retrieved May 23, 2014.
  11. ^ "5 things you didn't know about Twisted Sister". Anschutz Entertainment Group. Retrieved July 20, 2020.
  12. ^ Crawford, Allyson B. "Jay Jay French of Twisted Sister: Management is A 'Tough, Tough Gig'". Noisecreep.
  13. ^ "Twisted Sister".
  14. ^ "Mr. Blackwell's 10 Worst Dressed Women List (1984) - Classora Knowledge Base".
  15. ^ "Neil Young makes his solo debut - January 22, 1969".
  16. ^ Rockpit, The. "VINTAGE INTERVIEW: Jay Jay French – Twisted Sister 2010 – The Rockpit".
  17. ^ Stanton, Barry W. (January 13, 2018). "What Happened to Tina Sugandh? - 2018 Update".
  18. ^ "Big Hits and Nasty Cuts: The Best of Twisted Sister - Twisted Sister | Credits | AllMusic" – via
  19. ^ a b "5 Things You May Not Have Known About Jay Jay French | Rhino".
  20. ^ Louie, Tim (January 19, 2011). "Interview With Clint Lowery From Sevendust: Metal On Top". The Aquarian. Retrieved 23 May 2014.
  21. ^ Staff, Goldmine. "Twisted Sister: Hungrier than ever". Goldmine Magazine: Record Collector & Music Memorabilia.
  22. ^ "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.
  23. ^ "Twisted Sister Kicks Off Reunion With USO Stint". Billboard. April 23, 2003.
  24. ^ "Twisted Sister : Still Hungry". ZRock. August 30, 2004.
  25. ^ "TWISTED SISTER's 'A Twisted Xmas - Live In Las Vegas' To Be Released On CD, DVD, Digital". BLABBERMOUTH.NET. September 27, 2012.
  26. ^ "TWISTED SISTER'S 'I WANNA ROCK' STARS IN FACEBOOK SUPER BOWL AD". Ultimate Classic Rock magazine. Retrieved July 20, 2020.
  27. ^ "Twisted Sister's Jay Jay French to Perform at EyeRock". Vision Monday. April 11, 2016. Retrieved July 20, 2020.
  28. ^ "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.
  29. ^ "Watch TWISTED SISTER's Last-Ever Concert". BLABBERMOUTH.NET. November 14, 2016.
  30. ^ "Jay Jay French: A Twisted Christmas". Epiphone. September 29, 2006. Retrieved May 23, 2014.
  31. ^ a b "EyeWorld | Twisted Sister raises money for uveitis Band auctions guitars and plays benefit concert".
  32. ^ Halbersberg, Elianne (January 17, 2011). "The Pinkburst Project". Premier Guitar. Archived from the original on 12 March 2015. Retrieved 23 May 2014.
  33. ^ a b "Jay Jay French debuts Beatles column for Goldmine". Goldmine Magazine: Record Collector & Music Memorabilia.
  34. ^ "A Lesson In Survival: A Conversation With Twisted Sister's Jay Jay French – ListenIowa".
  35. ^ "A Military Spouse at the Inc. 500I5000 Conference". Kallie & Co.
  36. ^ "The Audio Tourist". Copper Magazine.
  37. ^ French, Jay Jay (January 28, 2020). "Don't Stop Believin'--The Last Writes of Jay Jay French".
  38. ^ "Live at Wacken: The Reunion - Twisted Sister | Credits | AllMusic" – via
  39. ^ "A Jewish Rock Star Shares His Las Vegas Wedding Tale". The Forward.
  40. ^ 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.

External links

This page was last edited on 13 July 2021, at 01:09
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