Andy Shernoff - vocals, keyboards
Handsome Dick Manitoba - lead vocals
Ross Friedman - lead guitar
Scott Kempner - guitar
Mark Mendoza - bass
Stu King - drums
The Dictators are another example of unsung heroes from the early punk movement that never got the respect and recognition they deserved. Although they were considered a novelty act when they first emerged in 1973, the band has gone on to become one of the most influential of all the early punkers, and their first album, The Dictators Go Girl Crazy, is considered a masterpiece.
This recording from the Bill Graham archives, made after the band released its second album, Manifest Destiny, and its first for David Geffen's Asylum records, caught them on a brilliant night. For this show the group played second, on a triple bill that also included the Nuns and the Ramones. Because the band incorporated so much humor into their show (thanks mainly to frontman, Handsome Dick Manitoba—a cocky cross between Elvis, Sha Na Na's Bowser, and anyone from WWF wrestling), they arguably often were not taken seriously for their music.
Today, supporters such as Steven Van Zandt consider the Dictators a crucial link from the '60s garage band area to the angry punk movement of the late 1970s. The music was abrasive, and the lyrics borrowed heavily from Frank Zappa's school of sarcasm. Aside from the band's musical prowess, many rock historians consider them among the funniest acts ever.
By 1979, the band had still not seen any commercial success (perhaps the fact that their last'70s studio album was on the ROIR label and called Fuck 'Em If They Can't Take A Joke had something to do with this). They soon split up, and went off to other non-music related careers. However, in the late 1980s, the core members re-grouped and have worked on and off ever since.