Mel, We Hardly Knew Ye

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?”

Andy: “One.”

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: “Terrific.”

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.


Filed under Interview, The Cincotta Archives

15 responses to “Mel, We Hardly Knew Ye

  1. Robbiecube

    We’ve never found any live tapes with Mel on drums..anybody got any?

  2. Anonymous

    is there a vide of mel with twisted sister 1973

  3. Mr 74

    Like anonymous said
    Is there a video or any other recording of Mel Anderson with twisted sister 1973 or 1974 ??

  4. Anonymous

    did find a video or a recording of him in twisted sister

  5. Anonymous

    im asking if there is a recording

  6. Anonymous

    im asking is there a recording.

    • Anonymous

      I know none of you will ever believe me but Mel Anderson was a friend of my mother’s. He was a cook at the same restaurant where my mother was a waitress and he came to our house for dinner. I remember he was a really nice guy. I believe his real name was Armel. Does anyone know if he’s still around/playing etc. I’d love to see him play.

      • Anonymous

        I know this post is well over a year old but I will give you a reply about Mel/Armel. I actually used to work with him in a Pathmark in Northern NJ He works in the non foods department and has worked for Pathmark since he left TS. His reason he told me once I discovered who he is/was that he left TS, was that at the time he needed a steady job, he was about to get maried and also needed some dental work done at the time. So since he didn’t see TS going anywhere (at the time), he decided to quit and work for Pathmark. I no longer work for Pathmark and haven’t seen Armel since I left the company, but I understand that he is no longer working in the store I knew him in. Lastly, he told me that he does still play drums and keeps in touch with his old band mates. He is a VERY nice guy.

        • Anonymous

          Thank you so much for your reply!! I can’t believe it’s been 9 years since you replied and a decade since my original post. I know the Pathmark to which you are referring. It’s right on Route 15. I really hope he’s doing well wherever he is. And thank you again for your reply.

  7. But have you found any videos of mel Anderson or more photos of mel.

  8. Just to let you know that Mr.74

  9. Anonymous

    There’s a bit of TS ’73 with Mel in an unreleased documentary called The Johnny Heartbreaker Story. But take heart, the footage has been licensed out and may yet see the light of day after all in another documentary currently in production (one about Twisted Sister and the Tri-State cover band circuit) that should hit by 2013.

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