A.J. Pero, the drummer for heavy metal band Twisted Sister, known for its 1980s hits like "We're Not Gonna Take It" and "I Wanna Rock," has died at age 55, the band announced via its Facebook page Friday afternoon.
"The members of Twisted Sister are profoundly saddened to announce the untimely passing of our brother, AJ Pero," the short statement read. "The band, crew and most importantly the family of AJ Pero thank you for your thoughts and prayers at this time."
Pero's bandmates later issued individual statements on the TS website.
Frontman Dee Snider's statement reads:
"Today I lost my brother. ... A.J. was the final piece in a band that would become an international sensation and one of the greatest live acts to ever hit the stage. His sledgehammer assault on the drums helped drive Twisted Sister and I to greatness and inspired me to rock every single show. My heart breaks knowing I will never feel the power of his beat behind me, or turn to see his face smiling broadly from the sheer joy he got from doing what he loved. I will always remember that smile. RIP my friend."
Born Anthony Jude Pero in Staten Island, N.Y., in 1959, the future rock star got his first drum set when he was only 3 years old, according to the bio on his official website. When he was 10, he performed on the "Jerry Lewis Telethon," and by 11 he was reading music. He went on to play in his high school drum corps and traveled to Europe and won three gold medals at the Paris Jazz Festival.
Twisted Sister formed in 1972 but did not record its first full-length album, "Under The Blade," until 1980, shortly after Pero joined the group. With the outlandishly clad Snider the focus of the band's over-the-top image, Twisted Sister became a radio and MTV mainstay. Pero quit the band in 1986, but the "classic" lineup of TS - Snider, Pero, Jay Jay French, Eddie "Fingers" Ojeda and Mark "The Animal" Mendoza - reunited in 2001 for a 9/11 benefit. The band remained together ever since, booking occasional tours. The group has shows scheduled in May and June at festivals in Nevada, Norway, Denmark, Slovakia and Spain; it is not yet known if Twisted Sister will play those concerts now that Pero has passed away.