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Twisted Sister Guitarist Jay Jay French: ‘Rock Is Severely in Trouble’

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You can add Twisted Sister guitarist Jay Jay French to the list of veteran artists who aren’t optimistic about the future of rock ‘n’ roll.

French weighed in on the hotly debated topic during a recent interview with the Metal Voice, and while he stopped short of agreeing with Gene Simmons’ assertion that rock is “dead,” he did admit that he thinks the genre’s seen better days — and he isn’t sure about where it might head from here.

“Rock isn’t dead in the sense that hundreds of thousands of people go to see rock concerts,” points out French in the interview, which you can listen to above. “Where rock is severely in trouble is that it’s an aging cultural phenomenon. It’s over 50 years old, and it’s not regenerating with the youth.”

Recalling how, as a young man, he’d spend his money on seeing shows by artists like Led Zeppelin, the Rolling Stones, the Who and the Beatles, French continued, “All those guys, when I was 16 and 17, they were 24 years old. Well, now, there are no rock bands coming up that are that enormous that are that young. But you’ve got plenty of hip-hop artists who are, and plenty of country artists who are, and plenty of female pop artists that are. But you don’t have any rock bands that are regenerating and coming up. So what’s happening is you’re watching the aging out of a genre of music.”

In fact, French argued, the rock bands in or beyond Twisted Sister’s age group aren’t even part of the music business anymore; as he sees it, they’re now part of the entertainment business, which is a fine but meaningful distinction. “The Stones are the leading edge, ’cause they’re what? They’re 90 or something like that. They’re so old that their fans don’t clap, ’cause they’re afraid the lights would go on in the arena,” he laughed. “We have no choice to live in the era that we live in; we just do. We’re grateful to have a career. But, again, we’re not in the music business; we’re in the entertainment business. It’s a very different thing.”

French’s point of view, while well-founded, isn’t shared by everyone in his band: As previously reported, Twisted Sister frontman Dee Snider whole-heartedly rebutted Simmons’ “rock is dead” comment, writing, “Rock ‘n’ roll is alive and well and thriving on social media, in the streets, and in clubs and concert halls all over the world. And the bands playing it are more genuine and heartfelt than ever because they are in it for one reason: the love of rock ‘n’ roll.”

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