All Access Magazine Articles

August 16, 2007

Rocklahoma 2007

By Erick Tweedy and Valerie Nerres

Photos by Valerie Nerres

Rocklahoma 2007“Welcome to Jackylstock 2007!” announced Jackyl lead singer Jessie James Dupree as they kicked their set into high gear Sunday at the first annual Rocklahoma music festival in Pryor, Oklahoma. After 4 full days of non-stop rock by some of the biggest hard rock hair/glam bands of the ‘80s and ‘90s, the festival was beginning to wind down, but not before Jessie’s gang rode through town. The newly self-proclaimed Mayor of Pryor, Oklahoma, was part of one of 38 bands to play the main stage at this inaugural event.

Fans from all over the world and every state in the US descended on the small town to take in this music spectacle. Hailed as “Rocklahoma” in homage to an event held in Oklahoma in 1980 with the same name that included then-rock stars Sammy Hagar, the Doobie Brothers and Pat Benatar among others, this year’s fest assembled the largest gathering of hair and glam bands to be present at one festival since…well, since anyone can remember.

The festival kicked off with a special Thursday “Pre-Party” that had all the makings for a night of musical mayhem. The rainy-day lineup included a few local cover bands, a couple tribute bands including Kiss Army and the Hollywood Roses, and a special appearance by the UK’s Gypsy Pisteleros, the self-proclaimed kings of Europe’s glam music scene. Said Lee Pistolero, the lead singer, “We came, we opened, and we found a Hair Metal heaven! Great people, great bands, and the best US debut an English band ever had! Roll on next year!”

The highlight of Thursday came with a late-night all-star jam session that included some of the Sunset Strip’s biggest legends. Tracii Guns, Joe Leste and Chip Z’nuff led the jam that also included former Guns and Roses drummer Steven Adler along with Chad Stewart (LA Guns), Michael Thomas (Faster Pussycat) and Greg Leon. There were few surprises in the set list that included many notable GNR classics as well as several other well-known cover songs by some of rock’s greatest musicians, including a few Jimi Hendrix staples played out nicely by Tracii Guns… and a very poor version of AC/DC’s “Highway to Hell.” Lillian Axe, a late addition to the Thursday lineup, played a very tight and rocking set to a small yet ardent fan base and added a much-needed boost of original music to the day. It was a great kickoff party that was only added to the lineup about a month before the show and one that will definitely have more in attendance next year.

Friday came and so did the sunshine. The rain that dampened the early part of Thursday’s party had passed and left nothing but sunshine and plenty of mud. Arriving Friday morning, I found my way to the backstage area where I ran into Mark Slaughter. I spoke to him for a bit and snapped a few photographs. He had this to say afterwards, "Rocklahoma was great! It's very Rocklahomaapparent this music is stronger than ever. People came from all over the world. With the music bringing people together and everyone having a really good time, I'm looking forward to doing it again next year."

Friday was the true start to the Rocklahoma festival as the major national bands and headliners were starting this day. The fest grounds cover about 400 acres, complete with camping, an onsite store and shower facilities, as well as dozens of vendor and sponsor booths.

The Greg Leon Invasion took to the stage in a very unassuming fashion and played mostly what sounded like Dokken and RATT songs, with different lyrics. Greg Leon is a Sunset Strip legend and was the original Dokken guitar player before they hired George Lynch. His set was lacking in enthusiasm and was overall just plain dull.

After a quick break, JPOT Music contest winners Dirty Penny, from Santa Cruz, California, hit the stage with both hands on the wheel and the pedal to the floor. New to the hair/glam scene, but looking like Motley Crue from 1982, they played a roaring set of originals that had the crowd on their feet and their fists in the air. Songs like “Midnight Ride,” “Running Wild” and “Vendetta” had the crowd begging for more as their set came to an end. Pick up their debut release, “Take it Sleazy” and get an instant flashback to 1982. After doing a photoshoot with them backstage, I got to talk to them a little bit. They were absolutely having the best time. Chili, their tour manager, said, “Definitely the best time of my life… sooo many good times, people and bands. Can’t wait till next year!”

After several weeks of speculation as to whether or not White Lion was going to be allowed to play the fest – due to ongoing legal battles with original White Lion guitarist Vito Bratta over name ownership – Mike Tramp’s latest version of White Lion hit the stage to a small but enthusiastic crowd. More than a one-hit wonder, Mike Tramp plodded along through the White Lion catalog and covered all the fan favorites as well as a few deep album cuts. Yet the uninspired performance put many of those standing up back down in their seats for a majority of the set. Unlike Dirty Penny before, White Lion did nothing to excite the crowd, even during their biggest hit songs, “Little Fighter” and “Wait.” After the festival, White Lion’s manager Jeff Keller said, "Rocklahoma was absolutely amazing. I applaud the promoters for having the foresight to put something like this together in the US. European fans are treated to great festivals all summer long, something we do not get to enjoy in the States... until now. It was great to see so many fans come together from across the world to see so many classic bands on one stage."

Having seen Y&T a dozen times or so over the past 6 or 7 years, I pretty much knew what to expect with this set and could have written the set list myself. I am always very eager to see Dave Meniketti tear up the stage as he is one of my favorite guitarists and certainly one of the finest at this festival. Opening with their classic “Black Tiger” and finishing up with the barnstorming “Forever,” their set was chock full of technicalRocklahoma problems. Dave’s guitar was not on during the “Black Tiger” solos nor during the second song, “Lipstick and Leather,” nor many other times throughout the set. Whoever was running the sound boards over the weekend really needs to have a lesson from a qualified audio technician. Almost every band, every day, had guitar or mic problems. One song they were on, the next song they were not. Unfortunately Y&T had far too many of these types of problems during their set and it made for a very frustrating set. The band probably had no clue, as all the stage monitors seemed to be working fine. Their set was cut short and they unfortunately had to cut “I Believe in You” from the set list. Beginning with my first Y&T show in 1983, I have never seen them without hearing that song, and it was a big disappointment. They left the stage with the crowd wanting more and chanting, “Y&T, Y&T, Y&T!”

The latest rendition of Slaughter was next up to the plate. With a number of hit songs in their bag, Mark Slaughter and the rest of the gang worked their magic the best they could on this hot day. The vocals were fair, at best, during most of the set, but Mark Slaughter didn’t let that affect his performance. As he usually does at festival shows, Slaughter spent a good amount of time out in the crowd, singing and playing guitar, which is always a hit with the fans. Working his way through the Slaughter staples which culminated with a rousing version of one of the era’s biggest anthems, “Up All Night (Sleep All Day),” Slaughter turned in a decent performance and was a good setup for what was to come the rest of the evening.

This festival had a full list of arena rock anthems and Quiet Riot may very well be at the top of that list. “Bang Your Head” is indeed one of the all-time greatest rock anthems to come out of the ‘80s, and that one song alone forever cements Quiet Riot’s contribution to the hair/glam metal scene. They have always been regarded as a one-hit wonder hard rock band, but they actually do have several radio-friendly hit songs, although a couple of the well-known ones are actually cover songs originally by the band Slade. Regardless, Quiet Riot has a place in music history and Kevin Dubrow and the rest of Quiet Riot showed why they are still a viable act and more than a one-hit wonder. Dubrow took to the stage looking much better and fresher than he did last summer when I saw them (that show was pretty much a waste of my time). This year’s performance, however, had Dubrow looking good and sounding great. With mainstay Frankie Banali on drums, Chuck Wright back on bass, and Alex Grossi on guitar with another year under his belt, Quiet Riot transported themselves back 20 years and stormed through their set. The set list provided no surprises as we got a plateful of Quiet Riot staples including “Slick Black Cadillac,” “Mama We’re All Crazy Now,” “Cum on Feel the Noize,” and of course, the closer “Bang Your Head (Metal Health)” which indeed had the crowd banging their heads.

With much anticipation, the somewhat reunited RATT took over the stage to rousing applause. Having reunited with lead singer Stephen Pearcy for the first time in 7 years, the band took their brand of hair metal, led by guitarist Warren DeMartini, and rolled through some of the biggest hits of the ‘80s. Musically, the band was tight, but Stephen Pearcy’s vocals lacked any kind of luster in any way. RocklahomaKevin Dubrow looked like the new Steven Tyler when compared to Stephen Pearcy. The best vocalist in the band is John Corabi, and he’s playing rhythm guitar. How unfortunate for him to have to suffer through listening to Pearcy night after night, knowing he could sing the songs way better. And too bad for Warren Demartini as well: He should move on and start a new band with a better singer. He’s got so much talent but he’s stuck in a RATT trap.

One of the best live party bands to come out of L.A. is Poison. With Bret, CC, Bobby and Rikki still together after 20 years, Poison gives you what you want, every time out. It’s non-stop hits, non-stop party and non-stop Poison. This time around, the band was pushing the release of their covers album, “Poison’D.” When they were playing their own songs, they were giving the crowd everything they wanted. One of the highlights was the rarely played acoustic number “I Won’t Forget You,” which hasn’t been dusted off since the mid ‘90s. After the show, I was able to hang out on Bret’s bus and party down with loud music, fun times, lots of beautiful girls, a FEW guys and a bit of a break from the hectic 12-hour work day. It was time for a break. I didn’t get out of there until well after 3 a.m. Bret was in an amazing mood and having a great time. Poison always delivers a great live show and this time around was no exception.

Day 3 at the fest and there were a whopping 12 bands on the main stage lineup. After getting about 4 hours sleep, we were dragging a bit, but that didn’t last for long. After a quick bite to eat in the backstage artist area, we were off to see local Tulsa favorites Down For Five. One of the JPOT Music contest winners, their set was comprised of a mix of original music off their debut release as well as a few nicely placed cover songs. Musically, they didn’t fit too well within the hair/glam spectrum as their sound is more reminiscent of Pantera/Ozzy/Black Label. However, this was a decent early morning set to get things moving. Congrats to Scotty, Janna, Syke and Carl for making the main stage!

Bang Tango took the stage just before lunchtime and I thought we had our first Axl Rose sighting. Instead, it was Tango lead singer Joe Leste. Looking like he had just graduated from the Axl Rose school of stage props, complete with the “Welcome to the Jungle” era headband and sunglasses, Leste fumbled through a 40-minute set of Tango classics and GNR hits. Bang Tango never made too big of a statement during the hair/glam era and there were few in attendance who could name more than one Tango song, if any. Sounding like he had smoked a carton of cigarettes before hitting the stage, Leste’s vocals were shot. Musically, the band sounded great, but the vocals and the whole Axl Rose look-alike thing ruined it for me. Toward the end of their set they were joined onstage by former GNR drummer Steven Adler to replay the same GNR songs from Thursday night’s jam session, along with another horrible renditionRocklahoma of “Highway to Hell.” Unfortunately, this set ranked at the bottom of the entire lineup for me.

One of the bands I was looking forward to seeing most was up next: the Bullet Boys. In the 31 years of attending concerts, somehow I had never seen this band. For the most part, I got what I wanted. Marq Torien was in fine form and his vocals sounded great. The band was tight and didn’t miss a beat. The set list could have been changed a bit for me, but it did include “Kissin’ Kitty,” my favorite BB song, as well as “Hard as a Rock,” “Smooth Up in Ya” and “For the Love of Money.” Missing favorites were “F#9” and “Shoot the Preacher Down.” Overall they were great and I hope to see them again soon.

The band up next was rather interesting. Up until about 3 weeks before the festival, Brent Muscat’s version of Faster Pussycat was playing at Rocklahoma. That was until original vocalist Taime Downe threw down the hammer and put a stop to that. This is one of those bands that is battling for naming rights between the lead singer and the lead guitarist. Much like White Lion, we were unsure who was going to show up. In the end, we got the Taime Downe version of Faster Pussycat. The set started off great and was rolling along nicely until about 6 songs into the set when Taime went off on some tirade about Brent Muscat stealing the band name and having cancer and being a victim and how Taime wished he would just shut up and die, blah, blah, blah. It was a pretty brutal statement to make, which left most in the audience a bit flabbergasted about what they’d just heard. Two more songs and Taime says, “F@ck you, we are Faster Pussycat, goodnight” and throws down the microphone and walks off. They left their set 4 or 5 songs short and didn’t play several of their well-known songs due to the early exit. It was definitely an interesting moment.

Most people regard Firehouse as one of those one-hit wonder, sappy ballad bands. But pulling back the covers reveals that they are so much more than that. Firehouse is one of the tightest and best-sounding bands to come out of the early ‘90s. Their music style fits right in with the hair/glam metal scene of the ‘80s, and most of their music has a crunch to it. Vocalist CJ Snare still sounds like he is 14 and barely has any hair down below, but that doesn’t keep him from rocking out with the best of them. Yes, they have some ballads, but on tracks like “All She Wrote” and “Reach For the Sky” all visions of love songs are tossed to the side. Bill Leverty does a very credible job on guitar and the rest of the band never misses a beat. They have a lot more hit songs than you think they do and most of the headbangers in attendance were singing word-for-word to the sappy love songs when they were played.

Last summer, I saw Warrant and was very impressed with newly added lead singer Jamie St. James and how well he seemed to fit right in with the band. The band is all original members, with the exception of St. James, and is super tight. Joey Allen and Erik Turner feed off each other well and the beat of bassist Jerry Dixon and Steven Sweet keeps your feet moving throughout the set. Playing a long list of hit songs that included ‘80s staples “Cherry Pie,” “Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” “I Saw Red,” “Heaven” and “The Down Boys,” Warrant marched on through the hot sun and lead the faithful Rocklahoma fans into the night.

Skid Row hit the stage next. As I was standing on the side of the stage, watching the crowd sing along to their classic songs, it really brought back a lot of memories for me and I sang right Rocklahomaalong to the songs, put the camera down, and reminisced about times gone by.

One of the bigger disappointments at this fest came in the form of Winger. I was very much anticipating this set, but when it was all said and done, I was bored stiff during their entire set. First off, when you are playing a festival you need to play some songs early that people know so they will stay awake. Winger proceeded to reel off 8 straight songs that only the diehard Winger fans would know, with the exception of the marginal hit song “Easy Come, Easy Go.” Other than that, the first 40 minutes of the set put festers in their seats with most of them asking Winger to play songs they knew…and Winger responded by playing a very mellow and strung-out version of “Headed for a Heartbreak” that added to the boredom. The band is loaded with talent, but this set just didn’t bring much of it out. I was expecting a much more high-energy set and it just never materialized for me.

One of the best sets of the festival came on Saturday night when Dokken hit the stage. From start to finish, Dokken were on fire. Don Dokken looked as though he had lost 20-30 pounds, moved around the stage and even smiled a time or two. His vocals were in fine form and he rarely struggled to hit any notes. New guitarist Jon Levin was phenomenal and didn’t make me miss George Lynch one bit, hitting all the solos note-for-note. “Wild Man” Mick Brown took a hiatus from Ted Nugent’s tour to sit in his regular spot behind the drum kit and Dokken regular Barry Sparks was pounding the bass. Playing a set list of hits as long as my arm, Dokken unchained the night with a barrage of ‘80s classic hard rock songs that included “Just Got Lucky,” “Breakin’ the Chains,” “Into the Fire,” “The Hunter,” “In My Dreams,” “Alone Again,” “Dream Warriors” and the smoking hot “Tooth and Nail.” It was one of the top performances of the festival and one of the best Dokken shows I have been to in the past 15 years. Kudos to Dokken for a fantastic performance! Afterwards, Jon Levin said, “The Rocklahoma show was a magical night. I was proud to have been a part of it and it was inspiring to see that so many fans came out to rock! When I walked on stage that night and saw how massive the crowd was in front of me I was really shocked. It was truly awesome.”

Here’s a scary thought: The Vince Neil band being better than Motley Crue? Say it isn’t so… Yep, it’s true! I was a bit worried as to what we were going to see close out the Saturday lineup. Much to my surprise, we got a great show from Vince and his band. Much like Don Dokken, Vince looked great and sounded good – and most importantly, was sober. Seems there were quite a few lead singers at this year’s festival who may have gone to the Rockstar Celebrity Fit Club and shaped up a bit. Vince and his band, which included former Slaughter members Dana Strum on bass and Jeff Blando on guitar, and newcomer Zoltan Chaney pounding away on the skins, kicked off their set with a blistering version of the Crue’s “Livewire” and never looked back. A few songs into the set and Vince took leave of the stage to let his band perform several well-done cover songs with Blando singing lead on classic tracks by Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin. Fresh from his nap, Vince came back and stormed through several more Crue hits including, “Girls, Girls, Girls,” “Red Hot,” “Helter Skelter,” “Looks That Kill,” “Wildside” and “Kickstart My Heart.” All in all, this was a pretty decent set and a good way to close out another very late night at the fest. While hanging backstage earlier that day, I’d run into Dana Strum and Vince Neil talking to VH-1 host Eddie Trunk. Later, after playing, they had a few comments. Dana Strum said: “Rocklahoma was an experience that I will never forget... I truly feel that it will go down in ‘Hard Rock and Metal History’ as one of the great comeback stories and musical celebrations that speaks volumes for the ‘80s rockers all over the world. Truth is, everyone that any of the artists that had the privilege of performing with at Rocklahoma should never forget the love that was displayed for all. I was thrilled to be a part of such a great statement for a musical style that I love so much. Thank you mostly to the fans that made a day in my life that I will never forget... again, I am very thankful for the opportunity to have been a part of the historic event known as Rocklahoma.” Vince Neil said, "Rocklahoma was kick ass...just a lot of fun to be around so many of the bands that I love, and the fans were great!" And Eddie Trunk from VH-1, the MC of the festival, said: "Rocklahoma proved what I always knew, that the ‘80s were the last great era of the rock star and that there are thousands that still love this music and these artists. It is the classic rock for a whole new generation and can no longer be ignored!"

Having gotten an extra hour of sleep over the previous night, we arrived at the fest grounds ready to rock our faces off. The lineup on day 4 held much excitement as Twisted Sister, Jackyl, Queensryche, Great White, Steelheart, Britny Fox and LA Guns were all slated to play. We opted to skip the first two local bands that morning as they started at 9:30 AM. Yes, 9:30 AM. I don’t know if anybody was at those two sets, unless they slept in their seats after the Vince Neil set ended.

First up for us, though, was Rhino Bucket, playing in the pre-lunch slot at 11:20 AM. Former Kix guitarist Brian “Damage” Forsythe leads this outfit of BonRocklahoma Scott-era, AC/DC-sounding rockers which included special guest and former AC/DC drummer Simon Wright. If you’re into the early years of AC/DC, you will love Rhino Bucket: similar song structure, back beat, guitar and vocals. It was our first time riding the Rhino and we thoroughly enjoyed the early morning set. It was a great way to wake up and smell the coffee.

Next on the bill was Britny Fox. With original member Billy Childs on bass and long-time vocalist Tommy Paris at the mic, Britny Fox rocked their way through a short set that included their biggest hits, “Long Way to Love” and “Girlschool.” This might sound weird, but the stage just seemed too big for them. I think they would be best watched in a club filled with Britny Fox fans. I was really looking forward to seeing this set as it had been a good 15 years since I last saw them. I wasn’t necessarily disappointed; it just wasn’t at the top of my list of great sets.

I can sum up Steelheart’s performance in one word: Fantastic! The voice of Steel Dragon, from the “Rockstar” movie, blasted onto the stage to the sounds of “Blood Pollution,” and it was a non-stop rock-n-roll set that surprised everyone in attendance. Steelheart is another one of those bands, like Firehouse, that had their biggest hit with a love song that included ear-piercing vocals…and they will always be remembered for that. But after Sunday, there are several thousand newly converted Steelheart fans who know they have much more than 1 song in their bag. Lead singer Miljenko Matijevic (aka Mili) gave the best vocal performance of the weekend and left many in awe of his talent. Most in the crowd were surprised by the range of his vocals as well as his on-stage performance. Steelheart came to show the Rocklahoma fans that they indeed deserved to be included in this hair/glam fest and put on a smokin’ rock set which included several songs from the “Rockstar” movie including “Blood Pollution,” “Stand Up” and the Steelheart-but-now-Steel Dragon hit song “We All Die Young,” along with many Steelheart originals that included “Love Ain’t Easy,” “Rock and Roll (I Just Wanna),” “You Can’t Stop Me Loving You,” “Never Let You Go (Angel Eyes)” and the new single “LOL.” Mili and the rest of Steelheart proved indeed they belonged at Rocklahoma 2007 and we look forward to having them back in 2008.

Ah yes, another in a long line of bands fighting for the right to use the band’s name is LA Guns. Does the band name belong to original guitarist Tracii Guns or does it belong to original vocalist Phil Lewis? How come the drummers and bass players never want to take the names? It’s always a battle between the singer and the guitar player. Anywho, the version of LA Guns to hit the Rocklahoma stage was the Tracii Guns version that includes his son Jeremy on bass, Chad Stewart on drums and Paul Black on vocals. As a fan, there’s one thing to remember: Always follow the singer…. Not in all cases, but certainly in this case. It’s a toss up as to who’s vocals were worse, Paul Black’s or Joe Leste’s from Bang Tango. Once again, musically they were great, and Tracii Guns smoked on guitar, but the vocals were horrible and just ruined the set for me. During their biggest hit, “The Ballad of Jayne,” it was really unbearable. Paul Black invited dozens of fans up onstage during this song to help him sing it in hopes that most festers wouldn’t notice how bad it was. Maybe next time around, they will bring in the Phil Lewis version so we can hear the songs the way they should be sung. Ouch…

Celebrating their 25th anniversary, a newly reformed Great White put on an outstanding show. Jack Russell and Mark Kendall have been touring together for years under the Great White moniker, but it wasn’t until recently that the rest of the original members got on board to tour in support of their anniversary as well as put out a new CD of all original material. It was like 1985 all over again. I was amazed at how good Jack Russell looked and sounded. He has dropped a good bit of weight, cut his hair and seemed really fresh and sober. I was really glad to see that. It was great. They were the first band that I ran into after first landing at the Tulsa airport. Being greeted by none other than Great White…? Way to start the weekend! Jack’s vocals were top notch and the rest of the band seemed like they never took a break from each other. Michael Lardie, Audie Desbrow and Sean McNabb all seemed to be having a great time, and as a unit they were just terrific. The set list was a greatest hits package that included everything you would expect, from Great White, “Once Bitten, Twice Shy,” “Lady Red Light,” “Mista Bone,” “Rock Me,” “Save All Your Love,” “Face the Day,” “Down On Your Knees” and “Rollin’ Stoned” as well as many others. My hat’s off to Great White for coming back together and giving the fans a terrific show.

There is a reason that Jackyl plays at the Full Throttle Saloon at the Sturgis motorcycle rally every year: Because when they hit the stage this band hits it full throttle! It’s a non-stop in-your-face barrage of hillbilly, countrified, hard rock with a touch of punk and a whole lot of swagger. Jackyl gave me everything I wanted. Their motto is “Rock Me, Roll Me, Jackyl Me Off,” and that’s exactly what they do to me every time I see these boys. One of my favorite live bands, they never fail to please. Rude, crude and sometimes lewd, Jessie James is one of the best frontmen touring these days. Best known as the kings of chainsaw rock, due to their hit song “The Lumberjack,” Jackyl combines raw energy and a pounding rhythm section with AC/DC-style vocals into a one-two punch to the throat. It only takes a chainsaw, a shotgun and throw in a bottle of whiskey for good measure and you’ve got yourself a Jackyl show. Yeehaw!!

A welcomed late addition to the Rocklahoma lineup was Queensryche, due to WASP having to cancel their performance because of financial difficulties by their North American distributor. It was an unfortunate cancellation as I was really looking forward to seeing WASP, but being a huge Queensryche fan I certainly wasn’t disappointed when they were added only days after WASP canceled. I don’t know if Queensryche fits into the whole hair/glam scene as they are considered to be more progressive in their musical styling, but the Rocklahoma crowd loved them. Queensryche has enough radio hits to keep the average fan interested when they play their greatest hits set list, so this was not a difficult set for everyone to enjoy. Fresh off their “Mindcrime I and II” tour, the Ryche stuck mainly to the meat and potatoes by not straying too deep into the album cuts to lose the crowd. Songs like “Empire,” “Jet City Woman,” “Eyes of a Stranger,” “Another Rainy Night” and “I Don’t Believe in Love” went over big. Unfortunately, the set was hit with the usual technical problems all the other bands were having, which was frustrating. It was a real strong performance by the boys from Seattle and it seemed to have worked, even if they were never part of the hair/glam scene.

37 bands down and one left to go. Who better to close out this celebration of ‘80s glam and hair metal than those sick SMFs from Twisted Sister? The voice of the Hair Generation that keeps rockin’ the nation, Dee Snyder and company finished this fest in pure glam bam hard rock style. In full makeup and costumes, Twisted Sister hit the stage about 12:30 AM Monday morning after 4 full days of rock and blew everyone out of their seats. Twisted Sister held back nothing on this night, the hottest of the fest. Along with Dee, the rest of the band is comprised of Mark Mendoza, AJ Pero, Eddie Ojeda and JJ French, who made it very clear during the set that he hates “American Idol.” Many in the crowd were probably not familiar with the Twisted Sister catalog other than 2 or 3 songs, but that didn’t keep them from rocking along with Dee and the rest of the band. Snyder is one of the best band leaders ever and his non-stop stage antics and sadistic humor work perfectly onstage.

One of the highlights of the whole fest was during a Christmas song that Twisted Sister played. Yes, I said a Christmas song. In 2006, Twisted Sister recorded a Christmas album titled “Twisted Christmas,” and it was during the song “Silver Bells” that Twisted Sister made it snow on a hot summer night in Oklahoma. The entire stage area was covered in snow and it looked like a blizzard onstage. Only Dee Snyder can pull that one off. Complete with a Santa hat, candy canes and Christmas lights, it was a classic moment and something you don’t see at your average rock show. Twisted Sister has two of the most recognizable songs and videos to come out of the ‘80s: “We’re Not Gonna Take It” and “I Wanna Rock” put them on the front pages of every music magazine in the world, and that is still right where they belong. Dee Snyder praises the hair metal scene each week on his radio show, “The House of Hair,” and they rightfully deserved to close out this festival and did so in pure unadulterated glam style.

Overall, Rocklahoma was a fantastic event and one can only hope it is as good next year. Early rumors indicate it will be even bigger and better, which is hard to imagine.

Here are a few excerpts from the latest press release from the promoters at Event Marketing Group: “ROCKLAHOMA’S PHENOEMAL SUCCESS SETS STAGE FOR 2008. TICKETS ALREADY SELLING FOR 2008 ROCKLAHOMA. PRYOR, OK -- With nearly 100,000 fans in attendance at Rocklahoma over the pre-party and three-day concert last week, organizers are already planning the Second Annual Rocklahoma Eighties Festival, scheduled for July 11-13, 2008. As a thank you to this year’s V.I.P. and Reserve Seat ticket holders, fans can renew their same seats for next summer’s Rocklahoma, now through September 17th…. ‘The artists and the fans came out and enjoyed the party in record numbers,’ said Dave Giencke, Director of Operations for Catch the Fever Music Festivals. ‘Over 1,000 fans have already renewed their V.I.P. seats for next year’s Rocklahoma, which will continue to feature the major rock artists from the music of the eighties. As a thank you for Rocklahoma’s success, we want to give all our fans the first chance to renew their seats for 2008.’

“…Organizers say the phenomenal success of this year’s Rocklahoma was noticed around the world, as fans from all 50 states and six continents were in attendance. The success of 2007’s Rocklahoma guarantees that next summer’s event will be even bigger. ‘Artists worldwide took note of the response of rock fans at Rocklahoma this year. Although the line-up for the Second Annual Rocklahoma in 2008 hasn’t yet been finalized – and the possibility is hard to imagine after the success of this year’s event – fans can expect an even bigger eighties line-up next summer and an even better show,’ Giencke said.” Thanks for a great ‘80s glam/hair weekend! Keep up with Rocklahoma happenings at www.rockfeverfest.com.

Story by Erick Tweedy and Valerie Nerres

Photos by Valerie Nerres

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