The Night Dee Snider Learned the Difference Between Singing and Performing
Dee Snider told of the night he learned the difference between singing and performing in a Twitter exchange about playing live.
The chat, which ran over five hours, involved a number of followers asking questions after the Twisted Sister star responded to an opinion about Ronnie James Dio, saying: “You are confusing singing with performing. There is a huge difference between a great frontman and a great singer. Ronnie was one of the greatest singers of all time, but as a frontman, he pretty much just stood on stage and sang.” He named Freddie Mercury as someone who was “an amazing singer AND frontman.”
Snider later added: “My frontmen are all over the stage and interact with the crowd. Showmen. Think David Lee Roth, Paul Stanley, Mick Jagger… Axl Rose… the list goes on. I’m a HUGE [Robert] Plant fan vocally. but he showed me nothing as a performer. Looked amazing, great hair, stood on stage with one hand raised and sang his ass off. Not a frontman in my opinion. And FYI many great frontmen are not great singers.” He noted: “I knew this would upset people,” before trying to explain: “I am NOT saying that Dio, Plant etc, don't have stage presence. They have it in SPADES! But they are not performers.”
He continued: “I pride myself in my abilities, but many don’t know me for it because I didn’t tour as extensively as others. If you ask me what I do best I will tell you ‘front a band.’” He later recounted: “I learned the importance of the performance over vocals one night in the ‘70s in a club with Twisted Sister. We did our opening song and my voice was completely gone. So I just started going crazy on stage. It was the BEST reaction the band had gotten to date. Changed my game.” When someone suggested audiences were happy to enjoy a vocalist who “can’t control an audience” he responded: “If only. Audiences will turn on you like Rottweilers if you don't keep you shit together.”
Snider said he’d often played “too many” shows a year and suffered a “sore throat for 10 years straight.” He added: “Think my vocal performances suffered? You bet they did.” Asked if he considered himself a performer first, he replied: “First and foremost. Honestly, I would sacrifice everything for the show. … For the audience it is THEE show. I always tried to remember that.”
He also argued that lead vocals on almost all live albums had been adjusted in the studio, saying: “Not to out anybody, but we ALL fix things on live recordings. When you take the recordings and put it into a home setting, the energy of ‘being there’ that covers a lot of mistakes is lost. You need to ‘clean it up’ just a bit.” Asked to provide examples, though, he refused to “name names” but said he’d done it himself on occasion.
When someone said they felt like Chris Cornell had delivered amazing vocal performances but “behaved like a mannequin” on stage, Snider replied: “True. But in fairness, some aren’t willing to sacrifice vocal quality for performing on stage… it’s tough to execute studio vocal perfection when you are running around.” He added: “My feeling always was if you want to hear the album played perfectly, stay home and listen. Live should be… live!”