Category Archives: MWK

Wild Kingdom’s Baby Steps: The Chris Bell Interview

The birth of a band is often a murky affair. Basic differences over direction or status often end with original members quickly becoming ex-members (e.g., Best, Pete, or King, Stu-Boy). Manitoba’s Wild Kingdom was no exception. There were two-plus years spent honing their sound as plain old “Wild Kingdom,” and three different players pre-dated Ross the Boss as the guitar slinger.

Here’s our recent e-mail discussion with Chris Bell, who was the Day One guitarist for Wild Kingdom. Along with Andy Shernoff and Johnny Thunders, Chris is another proud product of Jackson Heights in Queens, NY, and was kind enough to share his memories of the band’s earliest days.

How did Andy and Manitoba know you? Had you been in other NYC bands?

I completely owe my introduction to the Dictators to an old friend named Marc Seligman. In the early ’80s he played with New York new wave band called the Cyclones, who released a single produced by Andy Shernoff. When he casually said, “It was produced by Andy Shernoff from the Dictators,” he was surprised I had never heard of them! Anyway, long story short, he lent me “Bloodbrothers,” and the Dictators became my absolute favorite band for those next five or so years.

Fast-forward to 1986-ish: I was in a band with Marc called Inner Rage, and we were interested in putting out a single as well. We bandied producer names about, and I immediately cast my vote for Andy, because I thought it would be awesome to work with my hero.

Andy came down and hung around a few practices, and gave me some fantastic advice about how to play certain parts. He truly was a musician’s musician. Sad to say, the production gig fell through, and we ended up recording the single with no notable producer. My hopes were dashed, but I was happy to get to know Andy as a fellow musician as opposed to just a fan.

Tell us about how Andy offered you the job.

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The Gif Party Starts Now!!

party1 party2
party4 party5
party7 party8
party9 party10

You celebrate Throwback Thursday your way. We’re celebrating it with animated gifs we made from the glorious Manitoba’s Wild Kingdom video for “The Party Starts Now!!” MWK + gifs = a party that never stops!

— DFFD123

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Filed under MWK, Tomfoolery

Where the Wild Things Did Not Roam


The scene: MCA marketing department, summer 1990.

Faceless Minion #1: “So, how are we going to push this Manitoba’s Wild Kingdom album? We need an animal-related theme.”

Faceless Minion #2: “Hey, how about if we have them play promo gigs at each major city’s zoo?”

FM #1: “Great idea, but it takes forever to get the smell of monkey poo out of their equipment.”

FM #2: “OK, how about if we do some licensing thing with an endorsement from Tony the Tiger, or maybe Toucan Sam?”

FM #1: “They’re both in rehab. Besides, we blew 99% of the budget on the video, we can’t afford big names. What can we do that costs practically nothing?”

Here’s what they came up with…
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Filed under MWK, The Cincotta Archives

Warm Beer, Stale Bagels and Toothless Groupies — a Day in the Life of an Opening Band

There are a million tales from the road. For our 200th post, we thought we’d share this one with you.  

July 18, 1990, found Manitoba’s Wild Kingdom in Asbury Park, NJ, the 3rd and final night of a short stint supporting a band that we won’t name here, but it rhymes with Elle Mae’s Buns. Nights 1 and 2, in Harrisburg and Jim Thorpe, PA, both had the same results, with MWK completely blowing the headliners off the stage, in front of packed houses who had never heard of them.

Set time rolls around, MWK is ready to take the stage, when all of a sudden the roadies start breaking the stage down — before they play a note. The club manager explained to the angry devotees that the headliner refused to follow MWK! There were about 1,200 people there, all but about 30 of them to see Elle Mae’s Buns, so the manager had the proverbial gun to his head — he’d have a riot on his hands if Buns cancelled at that point. But the few, the loud, the Manitoba crowd was not giving up, and threatened to make the band play acoustic in the parking lot if need be. A compromise was struck, and MWK played AFTER the headliners. The Buns drum kit was actually still up when they played; JP had to set up off to the side. Even with the stage monitors already on the truck, they still knocked them dead in Asbury.

Set list from 7/18/90:
• 1. The Party Starts Now
• 2. You Had It Coming
• 3. Haircut and Attitude
• 4. Prototype
• 5. The Perfect High
• 6. Minnesota Strip
• 7. New York New York
• 8. Speedball
• 9. Fired Up

— Salvi C.

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We Waxed Our Bikini Zones for THIS??

July 28, 1990. In what has to have been one of the more bizarre bookings they ever played, Manitoba’s Wild Kingdom was the special musical guest at the 1990 United States Lifesaving Association’s National Lifeguard Championship in, or, more accurately, ON, Pompano Beach in FLA.  Yes, there really is such a thing, and no, points are not added if you look like David Hasselhoff.

Someplace between the Junior Lifeguard Treasure Hunt, the Women’s Run-Swim-Run, (again, there really is such a thing) and the Senior Men’s Tournament, in which we presume the victims were instructed to drown very, very slowly, the band unleashed their brand of mayhem on the estimated 15,000 spectators and sun worshippers in attendance.

“The Party Starts Now” was getting heavy airplay all over Florida, and the boys were riding the unfamiliar wave of commercial popularity with a seven-gig tour of the state.  Well, it turned out that the majesty of their rock was too much for the crowd to handle, as security had to shut the show down after only seven songs because they thought the over-enthusiastic crowd was on the verge of a musical riot.  The band was all revved up, but at least they had someplace to go, as they played a second gig later that same day in Ft. Lauderdale.

— Salvi C.

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July 17, 1990: The Day the Party Started!!

Manitoba's Wild Kingdom

Photo courtesy of Paul DiTomasso

On this date in 1990, Manitoba’s Wild Kingdom played their first gig in support of the then-freshly released “And You?” lp, opening for L.A. Guns at the Flagstaff Mountain Resort in Jim Thorpe, PA.

To quote J.P.: “It was a SHED.”

This excerpt is from a review of the show from BITD, written by George Smith for The Morning Call in Allentown, PA.

“Before the show, scary-looking “Handsome” Dick Manitoba of Manitoba’s Wild Kingdom hobnobbed with media types in the resort’s courtyard as teens peered enviously over a fence made of stacked chairs. Once his band hit the stage for a bumpy but satisfying 45-minute opening set, the singer’s personality unfolded on songs like “The Party Starts Now” and “Science Gone Too Far.”

“Can you be louder than me?” He asked the fans at one point.

“Rouarrghhh!” screamed a handful.

“Puny!!” laughed Manitoba.

Footnote: George Smith, under his non de plume of Dick Destiny, actually was a member of the Dictators briefly in 1976.

— Salvi C.

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Manitoba May Mayhem, 1987

On 5/15/87, Wild Kingdom (they hadn’t added the “Manitoba’s” yet) made their first real road trip into enemy territory and played Boston’s Rat. This was one of about 2,000 fantastic shows I saw in that magical toilet during my extended youth.

Finding these tremendous pictures at the Boston Rock and Roll Photography page in Facebook got me to waxing nostalgic about the gig. Thank you to Wayne Valdez for his kind permission to use these shots.

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Unearthing a “Lost Classic”: MWK’s “…And You?”

And You? coverThe Hard Rock Hideout recently rediscovered the Manitoba’s Wild Kingdom “lost classic” …And You?:

“‘Haircut and Attitude’ almost sounds like a lost Beastie Boys song. ‘D.W.I.’ is so catchy, it almost sounds like a KISS tune. … I think I am getting more enjoyment out of this CD now than when it was originally released.”


…AND, for YOUr viewing pleasure, a video clip of MWK rocking the 2008 Joey Ramone Birthday Bash:

— DFFD123


Filed under Adny, HDM, Music Review, MWK, Ross the Boss, Thunderbolt, Video