Maul Stanley Interviews Jay Jay French!
In honor of the 30th anniversary of the Star Wars saga, Maul Stanley has conducted a series of interviews with various rock stars regarding their own unique Star Wars experiences. What follows is a transcript of the intergalactic communiqué between Maul Stanley and Twisted Sister guitarist Jay Jay French (not to be confused with Jar Jar Binks).
Jay Jay French, are you a Star Wars fan?
Yes, I am. I liked Star Wars way back when it was just a fun little movie, long before it became the huge, multi-billion dollar franchise it is today!
What are your memories of the first time seeing a Star Wars movie?
I saw the first Star Wars when it came out in 1977 and I saw The Empire Strikes Back in 1980. Then in 1983, I was in England with Twisted Sister when I happened to spot an advertisement in the London Times. It was for a special one-time showing of all three Star Wars movies, including the premiere of Return of the Jedi. I don't think I told anybody else in the band about it but since I had nothing else on the schedule for that night, I just headed over to the theater.
Miraculously enough, I was able to buy a ticket and walk right in. Even more amazing, everybody in the audience was in costume! It was like I'd walked into a big masquerade party or something. So there I was, sitting in the theater surrounded by all these people dressed up as Star Wars characters, trying to figure out what was going on. Then some other people came out to address the audience, giving speeches and telling us that it was a very special occasion, that we were going to be the first to see the new Star Wars movie, that we were not going to believe our eyes and so on and so forth.
It was then revealed to us that the Star Wars actors were all in attendance that night! One by one they were introduced, including David Prowse dressed as Darth Vader! He then took off his helmet and said, "I am not James Earl Jones!" It was fantastic. Then to top everything off, George Lucas himself made an appearance! It was all just absolutely incredible. For something I'd heard about completely by accident, it turned out to be an experience I will never, ever forget. That night I got to be a part of something very special in Star Wars history.
Do you see any similarities between what you do with Twisted Sister and what George Lucas did with Star Wars?
Well, Twisted Sister has certainly been around as long as Star Wars... longer, even! Ultimately, rock & roll and moviemaking are two very different things and I'd be hard-pressed to make any real comparisons between them. The only similarity I can think of would be that we've both worked hard at building our respective legacies. What George Lucas did with Star Wars was so completely unique that it set a precedent that's been followed by every franchise since. Similarly, I think it's safe to say that Twisted Sister has set a few precedents of our own.
How do you think the prequel Star Wars trilogy compares to the original?
I hate to say it but the prequels were actually kind of disappointing to me. George Lucas is clearly a talented guy but I think he may have lost his way with them, especially the first two. I just didn't think he was able to recapture the magic the second time around. My daughter doesn't even care about Star Wars, although she does care about Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter. Having said that, I'm not about to jump on the bandwagon and bash George Lucas. The way I look at it... if the guy burned brightly the first three times and he didn't burn as brightly the next three, he's still burned brightly three more times than most people ever will. To his credit, George Lucas created something that has spanned multiple generations and nobody can ever take that away from him.
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