A.J. Pero, the drummer for the heavy-metal band Twisted Sister, died Friday. He was 55.
The band said Pero died of an apparent heart attack while touring with Adrenaline Mob, a group with which he played in between engagements with Twisted Sister.
Twisted Sister guitarist Jay Jay French said Pero was on a tour bus Friday morning when Adrenaline Mob band members tried unsuccessfully to awaken him, then called an ambulance. He was taken to a hospital in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., where he was declared dead shortly after 11 a.m.
“His drive was the heart and soul of the band’s sound, the engine that drove us,” French said. “We lost a friend and a legend.”
Twisted Sister singer Dee Snider called Pero “the final piece in a band that would become an international sensation and one of the greatest live rock acts to ever hit the stage.”
“His sledgehammer assault on the drums helped drive Twisted Sister and I to greatness, and inspired me to rock every single show,” Snider said. “My heart breaks knowing I will never feel the power of his beat behind me, or turn to see his face smiling broadly from the sheer joy he got from doing what he loved.”
Pero was well-known for a scene in the video for 1984’s “We’re Not Gonna Take It” in which he struck a snare drum covered with glitter, sending it spraying into the air.
A native of Staten Island, N.Y., Pero joined Twisted Sister in 1982, right before the bar band exploded onto the burgeoning heavy metal scene after nearly a decade of slogging through small clubs. Wearing makeup and glam costumes, the highly visual band was a perfect match for the fledgling MTV video network and become one of its mainstays with hits that included “I Wanna Rock.”
French said the band will soon consider what to do about its six upcoming summer tour dates.