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.