Twisted Systems

The Audio Tourist

[ To get perfectly nerdy: if you drew a Venn diagram showing the overlap between metal fans and audiophiles, the union indicating common members would probably be tiny. And that’s a damn shame: both groups can be fanatical about music and sound quality. Jay Jay French may not be well-known to most audiophiles, but he is indeed a hardcore ‘phile: while traveling the world as a member of Twisted Sister, Jay Jay tracked down the most esoteric and obscure gear imaginable. He has stories about audio, the music biz, and pretty much everything else, and he will be sharing them in Copper. He mentions PS here only by way of intro—Ed.]

I first contacted Paul McGowan in 1987, seeking to upgrade my PS Audio 200c power amp to a 200cx. This upgrade was just the latest move in my lifelong search for the ‘holy grail’ audio experience.

Like me, most audiophiles could write an episode of “In Search Of….” I’m not sure how and when this group-think comprising of mostly males and beginning in the early to mid 1960’s, decided that the search for better audio would become a life-long obsession.  At some point I will list, if for no other reason than to establish my cred, the very long list of gear that I have owned since this all started with a Sony receiver and a pair of KLH 6’s in 1968.

Suffice to say that in 1984 I bought a pair of Acoustat 2+2’s and the PS Audio power amp at Sound by Singer in Manhattan, after having walked out of Lyric HiFi due to the a very rude and disrespectful salesman. At that time, my band, Twisted Sister, was at our commercial peak having dominated MTV and the national FM radio conscience with the songs “Were Not Gonna Take It” and “I Wanna Rock”.

At that time both Stereophile and The Absolute Sound dominated my reading lists and, because of our worldwide fame, I was able to indulge my audio habit in many of the countries that we toured in.

While the other band members would make arrangements with the local promoters to visit nightclubs or strip joints on our days off, I wanted to go to the audio factories or shops that were located in or near the cities that we visited (and yes, I will be telling some of those stories in future issues of Copper).

I spent my afternoons in search of audio gear and because of my new found celebrity, there were people who were excited to for me to find it and buy it. I bought Koetsu cartridges and a Nakamichi Dragon in the funky back rooms of appliance stores in the Akihabara in Tokyo, bought a preamp during a visit to the Perreaux factory in New Zealand, and purchased Quad pre- & power amps with  B&W speakers in London.

I came back home after our first world tour with tales of audio purchases for my friends.

I was in audio heaven.

This is not exactly the Sex and Drugs and Rock ‘n’ Roll  story that you may have wanted to hear but….this is an audio magazine so get used to it…

This brings me back to my talking to Paul McGowan.

In 1987 Twisted Sister stopped performing live. In 1990, with the 200cx still rocking my system, I was driving through the west on a vacation. Paul had invited me to stop by and visit him and his family in Vail, Colorado— you know how those kind of phone conversations  go: “If you’re ever out my way, please come on over for dinner”….Like someone is really going to take you up on that…

Well, I did. My wife Janice and I spent a great evening with Paul & Terri.

It is now 27 years later: both Twisted Sister and PS have morphed into something much greater than either Paul or I could have imagined.

It has been a very long and strange trip for both of us.

I now contribute business articles for Inc.com called “The French Connection” http://www.inc.com/author/jay-jay-french,

A Beatles column for Goldmine Magazine called “Now We’re 64!”

http://www.goldminemag.com/article/serendipity-plays-role-jay-jay-french-collects-records

And features for the Jewish Daily Forward newspaper.

http://forward.com/scribe/364925/playing-in-the-shadow-of-hitler/

Over the next several months, thanks to an offer from Paul, I will indulge my audio fixation with stories that I hope you find interesting. Trust me when I tell you that, with high-end audio often as a backdrop, my life took turns that you won’t believe.

Oh yeah— Paul & Terri, get dinner ready. I will be over again, real soon!

[Remember, Jay Jay…they’re vegetarians! —Ed.]