The Dictators PhotoFormed in 1974, N.Y.C.'s Dictators were one of the finest and most influential proto-punk bands to walk the earth. Alternately reveling in and satirizing the wanton excesses of a rock & roll lifestyle and lowbrow culture (e.g., wrestling, TV, fast food), , whose worldview was defined by bassist/keyboardist and former fanzine publisher (Teenage Wasteland Gazette) Andy (occasionally Adny) Shernoff and renegade rock critic/theorist Richard Meltzer, played loud, fast rock & roll fueled by a love of '60s American garage rock, British Invasion pop, and the sonic onslaught of The Who. Driven by the guitar barrage of Scott "Top Ten" Kempner and Ross "the Boss" Funichello and fronted by indefatigable ex-roadie and wrestler Handsome Dick Manitoba (aka Richard Blum), it seemed that nothing stood in the way of The Dictators and mega-popularity. But that's not what happened.

There were complications with record companies, personnel changes (one-time bassist Mark Mendoza left for Twisted Sister; original drummer Stu Boy King was replaced by Richie Teeter), radio hated them, critical response was lukewarm, and lots of audiences didn't get the jokes; supporters remained loyal and vociferous (especially Meltzer), but it didn't turn into anything tangible. Ironically, what didn't help at all was the rise of the New York punk scene, which only diverted attention away from them and onto bands they influenced (e.g., The Ramones). They did manage to release three fine albums, but by 1978, it was over, and The Dictators broke up in the face of the public apathy and overstated accusations of sellout that greeted what was to be their final album, Bloodbrothers.

Since then, individual members have kept busy: Kempner put together the Del-Lords and now records as a solo act; Ross the Boss spent a few years in the goofy, macho heavy metal band Manowar and later joined Shernoff and Manitoba in the punk/metal combo Manitoba's Wild Kingdom; Shernoff also works as a producer. In 1991, there was a reunion tour that proved they hadn't lost a step after all these years. ~ John Dougan, All Music Guide