So You Wanna Be a Rock 'n' Roll Star

Written by Jay Jay French

But first:

No, I didn’t forget about Tommy Emmanuel.

It just doesn’t warrant a full analysis except to say that, in the here and now, if I could play like anyone on this planet, it would be Tommy.

I saw him for the first time at Les Paul’s birthday bash at Carnegie Hall, June 19th, 2005.

There were stellar players who came to perform that night.

Steve Miller, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Steve Lukather, Stanley Jordan, Joe Satriani, Peter Frampton, Neal Schon and…Tommy Emmanuel.

I had never heard of this guy before that night. I will tell you this: His acoustic guitar playing was so incredible that he got the only standing ovation that night.

I became a huge fan.

Here are 2 youtube clips to show his awesome chops:




As far as advice that I am asked for, I thought you might like to understand my thought process in my response.

This comes at a very important milestone in my life, as this past Memorial Day is the 45th anniversary of Twisted Sister’s first ‘residency’ in one single night club:

The Mad Hatter in East Quogue, NY (The Hamptons).

15 weeks in a row, 5 nights a week, Memorial Day through Labor Day 1973.

We started playing live in March of 1973, 6 days a week, 5 shows a night. We kept up this pace for most of the 10 years that we were playing in the bars before we had a record deal.

You can watch our amazing documentary on Netflix that tells the whole story of the first 10 years:

We Are Twisted F***ing Sister! | Netflix

It is with this background and dedication to our craft that makes me reply in the manner that you will now understand. It is also why I no longer will manage new rock bands, as the pathway to success (meaning learning your craft by playing live shows) has been all but shut down.

The conversations go something like this:

Musician: “Hey Jay Jay, you gotta come and see my band.”

Me: “How long have you been together as a band?”

Musician: “About 2 years.”

Me: “How many shows have you played over that 2 year period?”

Musician: “A Lot! We have played about 50 shows!”

Me: “How long are your performances?”

Musician: “20 -45 minutes depending on our time slot.”

Me: “Tell me when you get to 500 shows, then I’ll come down and see your band.”

Musician:  “500 shows! That will take years!”

Me: “Well then, I probably won’t be seeing your band!”

Since many of you love statistics, I’ve compiled some very interesting ones for you. I did this because it illustrates what a business really needs to do to be good. In this case, a rock band. A band needs to work (not just play).

All the time.

Not just twice a month.

Here is how Twisted Sister became great.

Here is how Twisted Sister became bullet proof.

In our first two years (1973,1974 and actually only 21 months, as our first ever show wasn’t until end of March of ‘73), this is how much we worked:

>Total nights performing at a nightclub (usually 5 shows a night):  396

>Total performances: 1,972. These were mostly 5-forty minute shows per night, sometimes 4-fifty minute shows. A couple of shows were single 1 hour performances.

>Total performance hours: 5,916, at approximately 3 hours of performing time per night.

>Rehearsal days: approximately 150.

>Rehearsal hours: approximately 750.

>Total hours performing + rehearsals: approximately 6,600.

Remember, this was just the first two years…there were eight more, just as grueling!

That is how we did it.

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