When a reporter asked Handsome Dick Manitoba if his band, of course named the Dictators, was new wave, the King of Men replied, "We ain't no new wave, Jack. We're the tidal wave." Manitoba, born Richard Blum, was born in the Bronx, spent time in the Catskills, and started out as roadie and cook for the Dictators. When he destroyed too much equipment setting up gigs, the Dics decided it was cheaper and safer to keep him onstage. This led to unforgettable antics like the Handsome One driving the Dics' van through the front of a building, assaulting Geddy Lee fans with fast food while opening for Rush, and a knock-down drag-out fight with Wayne/Jayne County.
The group's seminal debut, The Dictators Go Girl Crazy, appeared in 1975, with Manitoba decked out in wrestling regalia on the front, and spouting songs about TV, beer, cars, and girls inside. Appropriately credited as a "secret weapon," Manitoba was the full-time vocalist by the time of the delayed follow-up, Manifest Destiny. Another excellent platter, Bloodbrothers, dropped in 1978, but the Dictators finally disbanded in 1981. Manitoba and guitarist Scott "Top Ten" Kempner began working with another New York group, Del-Lords, in the early '80s, while the Dics' legend lived on through a posthumous live release. Ten years later, Manitoba's Wild Kingdom popped up on MTV. Comprised of, naturally, Manitoba and two other Dics, bassist Andy Shernoff and mega-guitarist Ross the Boss (also a member of the monolithic Manowar), Manitoba's Wild Kingdom released one record, And You? As the '90s progressed, the Handsome One's N.Y.C. bar became a local institution and the Dictators reunited for several regional shows. A new studio album, DFFD (Dictators Forever Forever Dictators), appeared in 2001, yet another timeless blow to the head from Handsome Dick Manitoba.