In the summer of 1984, I worked as a waiter in the sleepaway camp that I had attended as a camper. The years at camp all seem to blend together to create one nostalgic memory as time passes, but the summer of ’84 was different; it was the best, most memorable summer of my childhood years.
Waiters and waitresses were basically left to their own devices whenever we weren’t serving meals. We worked six days each week, and on our day off, we traveled as a group by bus with all of the junior counselors to various destinations in upstate New York.
One day, early in the summer of ‘84, Twisted Sister’s “We’re Not Gonna Take It” came on the one radio station that we were able to tune in if we positioned the antenna just right. The first time that my friends and I heard it, we were all blown away. Since we were all working for next to nothing, we didn’t have a lot of disposable income to spend on our days off, so a few of us decided to chip in to buy Stay Hungry on cassette when we went to the mall. I’m not sure why, but I was the lucky one that got to keep it at the end of the summer.
I played Stay Hungry so much that I’m surprised that the tape wasn’t worn out by the end of the summer. It became the soundtrack to the greatest summer of my childhood years. It’s hard to believe that this year marks the 30th anniversary of the album’s release.
My love for Twisted Sister only grew after I returned home and got the chance to see the video for “We’re Not Gonna Take It” on MTV, featuring Mark Metcalf spoofing his classically annoying Animal House character, Doug Niedermeyer. Metcalf revived the role for the second single off of the album, “I Wanna Rock.” To this day, those two videos are probably my favorite of all-time. If there was anything more entertaining than Twisted Sister’s melodic, us-against-the-world anthems mixed with an homage to arguably the greatest comedy movie of our generation, I never found it.
1984 will forever be remembered as one of the greatest years for hard rock and heavy metal. The album and videos that made Twisted Sister a household name will never be forgotten by an entire generation of metalheads who proudly threw their fists in the air as they shouted “I Wanna Rock!” and “We’re Not Gonna Take It!” The fact that it became the soundtrack to the best summer of my childhood is just an added bonus.