DEE SNIDER On Death Of 'Hair Metal' In Early 1990s: 'It Became Too Commercialized'

DEE SNIDER On Death Of 'Hair Metal' In Early 1990s: 'It Became Too Commercialized'

TWISTED SISTER singer Dee Snider spoke to Ultimate Guitar 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. Asked what his thoughts were about NIRVANA and other grunge bands when they emerged, Dee said: "I loved them. When they first came out, it wasn't even called grunge. And this is the thing about titles — even heavy metal, punk, hair metal, those are not titles chosen by the artists; they're titles chosen by the writers. And usually as a negative connotation. Usually as a form of a putdown. And the artists that they called grunge, called punk, called heavy metal — they hated it. This is a fact, dude. I'm old. I know this, a fact: if you mentioned grunge to SOUNDGARDEN or PEARL JAM, they got physically violent with you. They were just a rock band. And if anything, SOUNDGARDEN, ALICE IN CHAINS, they were metal bands. They were touring with Ozzy [Osbourne]. It just became defined by some writers; they pigeonholed it and called it a new sound."

Dee continued: "When it first came out, I was, again, doing metal radio, and I was playing ALICE IN CHAINS, SOUNDGARDEN, NIRVANA on my show, and I was like, 'This is great, heavy new stuff.' So then it became defined as grunge, and then it was the hair metal killer, and that was awful.

"But I don't blame it on the music; hair metal did it to itself. It became too commercialized, and then it got unplugged and became nothing but power ballads and acoustic songs, and it wasn't metal anymore. It had to go; it had to change."

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.

Snider's TWISTED SISTER bandmate Jay Jay French recently told Daniel Sarkissian of the "Rock Is Dead?" documentary about the death of hair metal and arrival of grunge: "The only band that leapfrogged and saved themselves was GUNS N' ROSES. 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."

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.

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."

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