Jay Jay French: Where are all the 25-year-old rockstars?

Twisted Sister's Jay Jay French
Twisted Sister's Jay Jay French (Image credit: Getty)

Twisted Sister’s Jay Jay French says there doesn’t seem to be a younger generation of true rockstars.

The guitarist recalls that most of the bands he watched growing up were in their mid-20s – but he says nowadays veteran acts such as Iron Maiden, AC/DC and Black Sabbath still dominate the rock and metal industry, despite nearing the end of their career.

He tells Kaoos TV: “When I was 17-years-old I listened to The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Who, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Jimi Hendrix, Bob Dylan, Janis Joplin, The Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, The Doors. None of them were older than 26 when I was 17.

“Now we, as 17-year-olds, never went to see bands that were 60. We saw bands that were all 25, 26 years old. If I told my mother I was going to go see a band with 60-year-old guys, she’d look at me like I was crazy or I was going to some jazz band or some classical group.

“So now we play festivals where all the bands are 60 years old – us, Whitesnake, Kiss, Black Sabbath, AC/DC. They’re all 60. Maybe 50, with Metallica.”

French continues: “So I ask everybody out there – where are the 25-year-old rock stars? Where are they? There’s a huge gap. You can’t name them.

“Someone goes, ‘Muse.’ They’re not 25 years old – they’re way older than that. Avenged Sevenfold – they’re not 25 years old, they’re way older than that. Slipknot – they’re not 25 years old, they’re way older than that.

“So the next generation doesn’t seem to be there, and I don’t know the reason why. I wish I knew the reason why.

“Pop music is huge – female pop stars are huge, right? And hip-hop is huge, and rap is huge, and country music is huge. So where’s rock? Rock is kind of not there.”

French has previously described rock’n’roll as an “ageing cultural phenomenon” – as it was revealed last year that the 10 best-selling musical artists of 2014 had an average age of 38.

The guitarist suggests that declining record sales, rock dropping off the charts and the loss of radio airtime for rock acts spell an uncertain future for the industry.

He adds: “It’s not Jay Jay saying rock is dead, but if the kids are not buying it, who’s creating it?

“In South America, we have fans that are 17 to 22 – they fill soccer stadiums. And I say to them, ‘Who’s your new band?’ They say, ‘Oh, we don’t like our new bands.’

“I don’t know what to say then. Like, really? There’s got to be hundreds of them. You can’t find one? Two?

“We just played Mexico, and there are a couple of bands there on the bill that are young and up-and-coming, but the enthusiasm isn’t there for it. So I don’t know, it’s a strange time.

“Look, I am grateful – Twisted Sister are grateful that we have an audience, that we matter, that people love the band and they wanna see the band. Iron Maiden are grateful, and AC/DC are grateful, and Judas Priest are grateful. But we’re all getting older.

“In five years, there’ll be no more Kiss and Maiden, and they’ll all be retired. So who comes up? I don’t know.”

Twisted Sister have a few dates left on their Forty And Fuck It farewell tour – including an appearance at Bloodstock Festival tonight (August 12).

Twisted Sister remaining tour dates 2016

Aug 12: Bloodstock Open Air, UK
Aug 13-14: Kortrijk Sportcampus Lange Munte, Belgium
Oct 01: Lakewood Rock Carnival, NJ

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Former TeamRock news desk member Christina joined our team in late 2015, and although her time working on online rock news was fairly brief, she made a huge impact by contributing close to 1500 stories. Christina also interviewed artists including Deftones frontman Chino Moreno and worked at the Download festival. In late 2016, Christina left rock journalism to pursue a career in current affairs. In 2021, she was named Local Weekly Feature Writer of the Year at the Scottish Press Awards.