Last month, Twisted Sister frontman and Strangeland star Dee Snider made the argument that Led Zeppelin‘s Robert Plant and the immortal Ronnie James Dio were excellent singers, just not particularly good performers.
The comments came during a Twitter argument/discussion, as all reasonable discourse tends to spring from these days, on what would have been Rainbow and Black Sabbath drummer Cozy Powell’s 75th birthday. It all started with Snider calling Powell a “rock god” before urging people to listen to the track “Stargazer,” mentioning “the incomparable Ronnie Dio on vocals.”
That led to someone mentioning that Dio was the second best rock vocalist of all time behind Queen’s Freddie Mercury. While no one should be able to argue that the two men were legends in their time and irreplaceable talents taken from us too soon, it got Snider talking about the difference between a “singer” and a “frontman”
“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 & sang. Freddie was an amazing singer AND frontman.”
He later went on to say that Plant showed him nothing as a performer, even though he looked amazing, had great hair, and “sang his ass off.” He later listed David Lee Roth, Paul Stanley, Mick Jagger, and Axl Rose as great frontmen and performers.
Fast forward to today, and he’s now saying in a recent Ultimate Guitar interview that his comments were all misconstrued and he wanted to clarify what he said.
“When I said they weren’t great frontmen, everybody said, ‘Here’s Dee shooting his mouth off again.’ But I’m not just shooting my mouth off; I’ve actually taken a lot of time to think about and consider it. I didn’t just make an arbitrary statement. I’ve thought about it. I got on my computer, and I studied and researched it. I’m actually the journalist’s worst nightmare because if people want to focus on the things I say, they need to know that I’ll back them up.
“But anyway, I said this, and then, on social media, someone said, ‘Okay, so what’s the difference between you and them?’ So, I’ll tell you the difference now: Ronnie James Dio, for example, was a great singer, but he was not a performer, at least, not in the sense of not a frontman. But me? I’m a frontman who is almost like a vaudeville performer. Now, a frontman doesn’t have to sing well but needs to be a guy who can engage the audience and entertain the people who stand there. A frontman that can wow the crowd with their incredible voice, yeah, that’s entertaining on a different level, but it’s not the same as a full-scale performance.”
I don’t know why he’s gotta come at journalists, but he makes some good points here. Performance and vocal talent can be seen as two separate things.
When asked if his words were initially misunderstood, he simply responded with “absolutely” before going even deeper into the details.
“I am not saying I’m Robert Plant, nor am I saying I’m even in his league. Having said that, I do something at a level that he doesn’t do, and that is I engage the crowd. I am able to establish a level of audience participation that makes the entire arena feel like they are in the front row. Robert Plant doesn’t do that, but I do. He’s an incredible singer, but showmanship, that’s what I do well. But I said this, and people were like, ‘How dare you?’ Well, guess what? I fucking dare. As for Ronnie James Dio, I knew him well. We toured together. He would look at me on stage, and after the show, he’d go, ‘Dude, you’re crazy. You’re fucking insane. You’re all over the stage.’ And I said back to Ronnie, ‘Well, you’re the greatest fucking metal singer full time. I can’t do what you do, but I can hold an audience in the palm of my hand.’”
Does some of his comments sound a little arrogant or conceited? A bit. But does the man make sense with his words? He sure does. I wouldn’t expect any less from the dude that made Congress look like a buncha fucking idiots back in the day.
Still, Dee’s gotta learn that engaging with the slack jawed mouthbreathers that infest Twitter is probably not a good use of your time or good for your mental health…