As part of Black History Month, DFFD salutes Mel “Starr” Anderson, the only African-American to serve as a member of the Dictators. Mel was with the band for their last 10 or so shows in 1978, replacing the then-departed Ritchie Teeter.
Brother of Al Anderson from Bob Marley and the Wailers, Mel came over to the Dictators in a complicated personnel swap with Twisted Sister, in return for Mark the Animal and a roadie to be named later. Although he only played a handful of shows with the Dictators, he manned the drums for one of their highest-profile gigs ever, the band’s very first farewell show at the Bottom Line on 10/20/78.
Here is an excerpt from a band interview following that show. This originally appeared in “Ffanzeen” in 1980.
FF: “How many drummers did you audition before you found Mel?”
Top Ten: “I saw Mel play in his old band, Twisted Sister. He used to wear this big rainbow-colored afro wig and he used to twirl his sticks and all these cool things. Fred Heller, Mott the Hoople’s manager after Ian Hunter quit, wanted Mott to do ‘Sleeping With the TV On,’ so me and Andy, this other guy from Queens and Mel made a demo in a friend’s basement. Mel called Andy while Teeter was telling us he was leaving and asked if we knew any bands that needed a drummer and we said, ‘It just so happens we do.'”
FF: “Mel, how does it feel to be a Dictator?”
Mel found himself a ex-Dictator less than a month later, and returned to the cover band circuit on Long Island from whence he came.
HDM summed up the entire Mel era when he introduced him by saying, “Great public relations move, no?”
— Salvi C.