Twisted Sister Drummer A.J. Pero Dies at 55

Photo by Owen Sweeney/Invision/AP
Twisted Sister's Dee Snider and AJ Pero during the band's 2013 performance

"I will always remember that smile," frontman Dee Snider said.

Twisted Sister drummer A.J. Pero has passed away at age 55, the metal band announced on its Facebook page.

"The members of Twisted Sister are profoundly saddened to announce the untimely passing of our brother, AJ Pero," the post reads. "The band, crew and most importantly the family of AJ Pero thank you for your thoughts and prayers at this time."

Pero died of an apparent heart attack, according to the Associated Press. While touring with Adrenaline Mob, a group he played with between Twisted Sister gigs, Pero was found unresponsive by his bandmates on their tour bus on Friday (March 20) morning. He was pronounced dead at a hospital in Poughkeepsie, New York, shortly after 11 a.m. ET.

After joining the group in 1982, Anthony Jude Pero became part of the classic Twisted Sister lineup along with Dee Snider, Jay Jay French, Eddie Ojeda and Mark Mendoza. Pero left the band in 1986 but returned in 1997; he drummed on every one of the group's albums except 1987's Love Is For Suckers.

Sister's classic Stay Hungry album (1984) peaked at No. 15 on the Billboard 200 and produced a No. 21 hit on the Hot 100, the oft-referenced "We're Not Gonna Take It."

"A.J. was the final piece in a band that would become an international sensation and one of the greatest live rock acts to ever hit the stage," Snider said in a statement. "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."

This story first appeared on Billboard.com.

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