Former Twisted Sister frontman Dee Snider, who has Ukrainian roots,...

Former Twisted Sister frontman Dee Snider, who has Ukrainian roots, said he approves of soldiers and citizens using the song "We're Not Gonna Take It" to protest the Russian invasion of their homeland. Credit: Getty Images / Ethan Miller

Long Island Music Hall of Famer Dee Snider, singer-songwriter of Twisted Sister's anthemic "We're Not Gonna Take It," says his Ukrainian roots compelled him to support any use of the song by Ukrainian soldiers and ordinary citizens fighting the Russian invasion of their country.

"My grandfather is Ukrainian," the former Twisted Sister frontman, 66, told Newsday on Tuesday by phone from his home in California.

Before his father’s father immigrated to the United States from Ukraine, then part of the Soviet Union, "Someone would you say to him, 'You're Soviet,' and he would say, 'No, I'm Ukrainian.' You can obliterate and take away their title and their name, but the people will always know who they are. You can't take that away from them. And the Ukrainians are so incredibly valiant," he said. "To watch what's going on there is painful."

Snider made headlines Sunday when he tweeted of his band's 1984 hit, "People are asking me why I endorsed the use of 'We're Not Gonna Take It' for the Ukrainian people and did not for the anti-maskers. Well, one use is for a righteous battle against oppression; the other is a infantile feet stomping against an inconvenience."

A day later he wrote he was "blown away" by the response to this tweet.

Snider — who was raised in Freeport and Baldwin, where he graduated from high school, and until about eight years ago lived in Stony Brook before moving to Los Angeles — said he was prompted to write the tweet after being asked on social media what he thought of Ukrainian defenders using that song as a rallying cry, as numerous groups and organizations have done through the years. He has not seen video of Ukrainians using the song.

After returning home from buying bagels Sunday, he said, "I opened my Twitter feed and I was like, 'What the hell's going on?' " To his astonishment, news organizations internationally began reporting on the tweet and contacting him.

He has selectively denounced anti-mask demonstrators who use his song. In September 2020, he deplored the "moronic cause" of anti-maskers who stormed a Florida Target store to the sound of "We're Not Gonna Take It." He has asked politicians, including former President Donald Trump and retired U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, not to use the song, and they complied. But as use of the song by protesters piled up, Snider tweeted earlier this month: "While I may not agree with some of the things it's used to fight, I can't pick & choose the ones I want. From time to time I will say something to distance myself."

"You only have control [of a song] if it's used for a commercial purpose," Snider says. "So the best I can do is I can publicly speak out. People don't like it when the songwriter denounces their usage. That's why they usually stop. But I don't really have control."

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