With your touring schedule, were you able
to attend her appointments?
Fender Custom Shop Stratocaster
– “The color is custom hot pink with cherry
sunburst,” says Fender’s John Cruz. “The
body is mahogany with crème binding. It
features a tummy cut on the back, however
I did not include the arm contour found on
most Strats. The neck is pretty much the
same as the Tele, which features a mahogany
neck with Indian rosewood fretboard, large C
shape, 12" radius, and 6105 fretwire. It also
features a clear Lexan pickguard with my
custom-wound J.C. Limited pickups—which
are top mounted.”
Twisted Sister stopped performing in 1988
and retired until 2003. My daughter was
born in 1993, and I was her nanny for four
years. For 10 years, I took her to school and
picked her up every day. My dad was a traveling
salesman, and I swore I would never
have a child if I was on the road. Samantha
and I are very close. I was still married, and
I had the luxury of being home all the time.
In 1999, the problem was discovered and we
were there. In September 2003, my wife and
I divorced and she moved four blocks away,
so Samantha stayed with me every other day
and I took her to and from school. By the
time Twisted Sister started playing weekends
again, we played June through August and
it was very easy to do. I was very fortunate
that my schedule allowed me to be on top
of this and never miss a doctor’s appointment.
My ex-wife is English, and the corporation
she works for moved her back to
the UK. So Samantha went to school in
England at 14 and we found a specialist
there. She will be back here to go to college
in the US in 2011. I traveled to England a
lot and went to her doctor appointments,
too. There was never a lack of maintenance
from her mother and me.
You were also lucky to have insurance—they
don’t give cancer drugs away as samples.
We are very lucky, because Remicade will
bankrupt you. It is the most expensive drug in
the world. When you’re a parent whose child
has a chronic disease, you have enough battles
to fight, and it becomes an even tougher challenge
due to the financial strain if you don’t
have insurance—which is another reason I
want to raise research dollars.
Which leads us to the Pinkburst Project. One day you woke up and thought . . .
I’d had my pinkburst Les Paul signature model
for a long time, and at a NAMM show I
was introduced to John Cruz from Fender.
I told him I had a pink Les Paul and asked
what it would take to build a pink Tele with
rosewood—a custom guitar. He looked at
me as if I were nuts. The guy who happened
to be standing next to him was someone I
hadn’t seen in 30 years—he was the kid who
delivered my first Les Paul to me. It was
eerie! I have an Epiphone Les Paul, and I had
a Gibson Les Paul painted pink by a local
luthier named Steve Carr in 1979. He’s the
same guy who made the Axe bass for Gene
Simmons. I had this boat-anchor, thousand-pound
guitar delivered to me in a parking
lot in Long Island, and there I was with the
same guy standing next to John Cruz. John said,
“Okay, I’ll make the Tele.”
Gretsch G6120 –
“The guitar is basically a stock 6120 made from
maple — top, back and sides,” says Fender
Master Builder John Cruz. “It also features a
maple neck and rosewood fretboard. It already
had the traditional thumbnail inlay installed on
the guitar. I did not want to try and change this
beautiful design, and I convinced Jay Jay that
he would love it the way it was. He agreed. After
the custom paint was applied, I installed the
Filter’Tron-style pickups, stock wiring harness,
Bigsby tremolo, custom-painted pickup covers,
and a clear Lexan pickguard. This guitar was
stunning to look at, as well as play. As with all
the other guitars, Jay Jay was speechless.”
I wanted it to look like my Gibson, and
he matched it. The Tele arrived and I had the
two guitars on stands in my living room. I
thought, “Imagine if I could get other companies
to do this—and we could sell them and
donate the money to MERSI because they
have so few research dollars.”
Is this your first fundraiser for MERSI?
I’ve been involved in auctions for the hospital.
They do simple auctions where people donate
typical things, and I donated guitars. This
time, I wanted to do more.
How did you involve other manufacturers?
John was working on the Tele at his bench in
California, and people would see it in the factory.
I called him about a Strat, and then I talked to
Martin and Gibson. By then we were in our second
year of guitar models. And then came basses—and they all had to be pinkbursts. I could
have bought guitars and had them painted, but
the key was having the manufacturers make official
guitars. That’s what matters to collectors—that they get that official slip. Once I explained
the reason for this, everyone was onboard.
Did you request common features from all
My wish list included trapezoid fretboard
inlays—which we got on all but three of the
guitars—rosewood fretboards, and matching
colors. But, as Obama says, it involved the
art of compromise, to a degree. So I had to
compromise. Some of the guitars were made in
China and had certain set inlays, fretboards, etc.
After three years, I’d say this is quite a success
story, with 99 percent of my wish list fulfilled.
Does each piece have a unique serial number
or identifying stamp?
Every amp has a brass plaque with the Pinkburst
Project logo, and every guitar has a custom-made
TKL case with the project logo. Everything was
so disparately made that the custom shops put
their own numbers on them. All the serial numbers
are available on the website.