I know what you’ve been thinking. “Hey, those knuckleheads over at the DFFD Blog haven’t had much to say lately. Where they been at?” Well, here’s the reason for the long gap between posts. I spent almost a year tracking down the remaining members of Total Crudd, which was RTB’s band prior to joining the Dictators. A dozen interviews with seven members took a while to assemble, but the end result was worth the effort. The story will appear in Ugly Things #46, which will be available later this month. Expect lots of nonsense about epic parties, illegal substances, and a monkey.
If that isn’t enough to entice you, here’s Ross with fellow TC alumnus (and first Dictators drummer) Jim Sugarman from their fourth-grade class picture. (That’s Ross in the glasses.) This kinda stuff is website GOLD. Here also is a story from Jim that didn’t make the cut for the final article:
Here’s the story about Ross’s white guitar. My brother (6 years older than us) bought himself a white Gibson SG and a Fender Vibrolux amp. After a while he decided to go to college overseas, needed money, and sold both to Ross for around $300. You can imagine how he’s kicking himself today.
One of the first times Ross used the guitar, maybe 7th grade, was when we were rehearsing in the neighborhood youth center. We did a blistering version of “Spoonful,” improvising our own solos and generally going nuts. At the end of the song, in marched in the local band that consisted of the neighborhood thugs. Their guitarist went up to Ross and says, “I bet you think you’re hot sh*t!” and started pushing and punching him. Ross calmly put his guitar down someplace safe and proceeded to kick his a**.”
— Salvi C.
Ugly Things #40 is now available at www.ugly-things.com. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the magazine, it’s a biannual bible of musical history for both the obsessed and the dilettantes. This issue features the first ever interview with Stu Boy King, conducted by yours truly. Stu could not have been more generous with his time and patience for my carpet bombing of questions, and he had a ton of great stories from the GGC days. He also proved to have an amazing memory about stuff that happened 40 years ago.
There were a lot of nerves on both ends of the interview. I’ve never conducted one that wasn’t with a potential new hire, and Stu had never had the opportunity to tell his story. We both worked hard at getting this thing right, and I think the effort paid off in the results.
Here’s a teaser from the interview:
“Our only tour before the album came out was opening for Nazareth. We drove out to Winnipeg to open for them. Hudson and Ford were the middle act. I remember that it was a beautiful venue to play in. We did our sound check, and the acoustics in the place were perfect for the Dics. All the vibrato and feedback made us sound great, we couldn’t go wrong. Nazareth’s LP with ‘Love Hurts’ had just come out, and this was their shot at the big time. They didn’t want anything to interfere with their moment in the sun. We were loud and amped up, and sounding really good. We were jamming to ‘Diamond Dogs,’ me and Ross, and blowing it up. Nazareth saw this, and wanted no part of us trying to steal their thunder. They came in with a tight and precise package, and here come these young, fired up hooligans stirring the pot. We scared them, and got sent home after one gig!”
There are 8 more pages of this kind of insider ambrosia in the mag–order your copy now!
March 2015 marks the 40th anniversary of “The Dictators Go Girl Crazy.” Ignored and/or ridiculed at the time of its release, it’s since grown to be rightfully seen as a classic smart-azz manifesto.
It’s impossible to overstate the influence the lp had on me, and probably on you, our loyal audience, as well. This blog would not exist if not for GGC.
Reams of praise have been written about the album over the years, all if it deserved. Hell, we devoted a full week to its 35th anny back in 2010 (read it all here). Rather than try to come up with more in the same vein, we here at the DFFD Blog, in the style you’ve grown to know and tolerate, have come up with a new perspective on that mysterious, embryonic era of the band. Starting very soon, we’ll be running a multi-part interview with — wait for it — Stu Boy King. Believe it, Baby!
— Salvi C.
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.
Andy Shernoff is currently in Canada with his “When Giants Walked the Earth: A Musical Memoir” solo tour — Thursday was Toronto. Next up: London, Ontario (Friday), and Hamilton, Ontario (Saturday). Details.
Get caught up on all the latest press on the show, which he just took south to Tennessee and will soon be bringing to several places in the Northeast:
GoMemphis.com: Rock pioneer Andy Shernoff kindles music and memories
Nashville Scene: A lesson in the history of rock ‘n’ roll according to Andy Shernoff
Über Röck: Andy Shernoff – The Dictators/Master Plan: Interview Exclusive
Everyone’s Wrong and I’m Right: Andy Shernoff Breaks His Silence
Join the Andy Shernoff Appreciation Society on Facebook.
If you see any other relevant new links out there, please let us know in the comments!
Filed under Adny, Interview
We’ve stumbled across lots of news bits to share, which means it’s time for another edition of ‘Tators Tracker. Here goes:
* HDM, Andy and J.P. have all taken part in a new Joey Ramone solo album. More info as we get it.
* Andy’s heading out on tour with the can’t-miss “When Giants Walked the Earth: A Musical Memoir” show. First stop: a guest appearance at tonight’s Carla Rhodes show in Brooklyn, then a very special opening slot for David Jo at New Jersey’s Brighton Bar tomorrow night (more info). During the next few weeks, he’ll hit Tennessee, Canada, Pennsylvania, NYC, Rhode Island and Massachusetts. Details here.
* A new Ross the Boss audio interview has been posted at Blabbermouth.net.
* Scott Kempner gets listed among some pretty heady company by the legendary Dion DiMucci.
* Cool photos of Thunderbolt Patterson at the Joey Ramone Birthday Bash are posted here.
* Time Out offers a sweet portrait of family life at Chez Manitoba; plus, HDM merits another Page Six mention, just by showing up: NYPost.com.
For those of you planning to kick it old school with the Master Plan this Friday and Saturday and during their upcoming two-week tour of Spain, we share a taste of the band’s recent live action, courtesy of Veer Magazine.
[Edited to add: The Spanish dates have been updated here.]