It was September 19, 1985, a historic day for rock and roll when three musicians - Frank Zappa, Dee Snider, and John Denver (the latter whose music was never up for debate of its appropriateness) - testified before the United States Senate after the now-infamous Parents Music Resource Center, better known as the PMRC, were hellbent on censoring popular music. They introduced the parental warning system with the sole intention of labeling any release containing what they deemed offensive. The result was the “Parental Advisory” sticker that landed on the sleeve of any release with questionable and inappropriate content like sex, drugs, violence, satanism (let's not forget about Satanic panic of the 1980s!), and so on.
Dee Snider was at the height of Twisted Sister's popularity, with their 1984 Stay Hungry release making them MTV stars and household names. Funny enough, the band's huge hit, “We’re Not Gonna Take It” was among one of the PMRC’s legendary “Filthy Fifteen” and is best known today as an anthem of rebels, a common song on the campaign trail, and featured in the sweet and safe movie, Rock of Ages.
Watch the video of Dee's testimony before a room full of suits who had no idea what it meant to create music or art or really anything at all.
About the experience, he wrote in this piece in the Huffington Post in 2015
“While initially my appearance at those Senate hearings was damaging to my career and reputation, long term it was beneficial, showing people for the first time that I was much more than a screaming "Raggedy Ann on acid" and a fairly intelligent, sentient human being. Fortunately, I have gone onto better things. My arch nemeses Al and Tipper Gore are long divorced, while this October 23rd my wife Suzette and I will celebrate our 34th wedding anniversary. You're damn right I'm bragging. I wasn't throwing stones at their glass house. And I can proudly say for the last 30 years, I have stood by, lived and represented every single statement and claim I made in my speech that fateful September day."
I was reminded tonight and asked Dee about it. I was so happy he replied. Thank you, Dee. That was a pivotal time in your life, and definitely in mine.
Truth: I was cool, calm & collected until I was about to start my speech. I looked up at all the senators & cameras & the magnitude of the event hit me. My hand holding my speech very subtly started to shake. I screamed in my head "Get it together man!" I calmed down & started. https://t.co/esxPLWgiih— Dee Snider (@deesnider) September 20, 2019