The Elektra/Asylum legacy of pioneering proto-punk continued with the 1976 signing of New York City’s The Dictators. With their tasteless jokes and loud, hard, and fast sound, the Bronx-based bunch of Converse-wearing, White Castle-munching wrestling fans – fronted by the self-proclaimed “handsomest man in rock ‘n’ roll,” “Handsome” Dick Manitoba – were the diametrical opposite to the polished AOR (FM radio’s “album-oriented rock” format) of the period.
Founded in 1973, the band broke up two years later, after the release of their epochal The Dictators Go Girl Crazy. The ‘Taters, as they were known to their loyal legion of fans, then re-emerged at the height of punk with their 1977 Asylum debut, Manifest Destiny. Bassist Mark “The Animal” Mendoza left the following year – ultimately joining Twisted Sister – but the band persevered and released Bloodbrothers, featuring lifelong ‘Taters fan Bruce Springsteen counting off the album’s classic opening track, “Faster And Louder.”
Disappointed by the lack of mainstream acceptance, the band called it quits once more in 1979. Guitarist Ross “The Boss” Friedman started mythological metal masters Manowar while guitarist Scott “Top Ten” Kempner was a founding member of pioneering roots-rockers The Del-Lords. In 1986, Manitoba and bassist/keyboardist Andy “Adny” Shernoff formed Manitoba’s Wild Kingdom, later to be joined by both Friedman and Kempner. The Dictators in all but name, the band soon readopted their initial moniker and continues to rock out in various combinations today.