EXCLUSIVE: Arrest of Handsome Dick Manitoba Ends Punk Band The Dictators




Handsome Dick Manitoba, Richard Blum, arrested on assault charges - Photo by Donna Balancia
Handsome Dick Manitoba, Richard Blum, arrested on assault charges - Photo by Donna Balancia

By DONNA BALANCIA

Ross “The Boss” Friedman said The Dictators band — in any form — is finished following the arrest of “Handsome” Dick Manitoba on assault charges Friday.

Manitoba, the frontman for the former punk band, The Dictators, was arrested and released last week for assaulting his ex-girlfriend, according to The Daily News of New York. The ever-angry frontman, whose real name is Richard Blum, was charged last week with choking Zoe Hansen, his former domestic partner with whom he shares a cheap apartment in the East Village.

Handsome Dick Manitoba flips off the crowd at The Viper Room - Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia
Handsome Dick Manitoba flips off the crowd at The Viper Room – Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

Manitoba Court Date March 26

The 64-year-old punker was slammed with three counts of third-degree assault and one count each of criminal obstruction of breathing or blood circulation and second-degree harassment. Hansen, 51, was “crying, with tears streaming down her face and her body shaking,” when officers arrived, according to The News.  She reported: “He bit me. He bit my nose. He grabbed my neck and applied pressure.” His court date is March 26.

The Dictators NYC perform at The Viper Room in 2016 - Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia
The Dictators NYC perform at The Viper Room in 2016 – Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

It’s an awful fall from punk’s hierarchy for a band that has had many ups and downs over the years.

The Dictators changed their name to Dictators NYC when the original band broke up. Andy Shernoff and Ross “The Boss” Friedman are the founders of The Dictators, and Friedman and Manitoba carried on as Dictators NYC.  They play the same songs as the original Dictators did.  Friedman said in all that time he never heard from Shernoff, who he says exerted his rights when it came to songs and the name of the band.

Handsome Dick Manitoba dances with nary a care at The Viper Room - Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia
Handsome Dick Manitoba dances with nary a care at The Viper Room – Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

But apparently since the last time they played The Viper Room on the Sunset Strip a few years back it has been a downward spiral.

On the Dictators NYC web page it indicates the Dictators NYC is no longer and now the band in its current form is called Manitoba NYC.  The Manitoba NYC web page has not been updated since last August.

Friedman said Dictators NYC was a successful band with a great run lasting seven years and it was more successful than the original band.

“We did a fall tour and then we had to change the name of the band, so we changed it to Manitoba NYC,” Friedman told CaliforniaRocker.com. “I just think it ran its course. We had a seven year run when we started.

Handsome Dick Manitoba dances with nary a care at The Viper Room - Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia
Handsome Dick Manitoba dances with nary a care at The Viper Room – Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

Friedman is working on his own music now.

“My record is coming out in April and Dean Rispler produced it,” he said. But Friedman said never say “never” when it comes to The Dictators future.

The latest news of Blum’s arrest is not surprising to those who know the band. While the band’s hit album The Dictators Go Girl Crazy put the band on the punk rock map, Blum’s off-stage — and sometimes on-stage antics —  have always been in the background. Blum and Wayne County got into a brawl that was well publicized.  Blum started as the band’s roadie but once he grabbed the mic on stage at Popeye’s in Sheepshead Bay, a new era in punk began.  He was known to be a wild roadie for the band.

Loren Molinare, (R), remembers when Dick Manitoba first took the stage - Photo © 2015 Donna Balancia
Loren Molinare, (R), remembers when Dick Manitoba first took the stage – Photo © 2015 Donna Balancia

Loren Molinare of LA based punk band The DoGs was there when “Handsome” Dick Manitoba hit the stage for the first time at Popeye’s:

“We played with The Dictators three times but that specific gig, we were trading sets with them,” Molinare recalled. “Eric Emerson was in the Andy Warhol scene, but we met him because he was dating Edgar Winter’s ex-wife and they had a loft.  She liked The Dogs we got along with Eric, he had a glam band called the Magic Tramps. He loved the Dogs and we invited him to the gig and he did a song with us at that first Dick Manitoba gig.  Unfortunately Eric died when he got hit by a car. Then, The Dictators threw a kegger in Co Op City in the Bronx and invited The DoGs. Dick was the roadie and he would come up and sing ‘Wild Thing.’ It was a good schtick.  It was the original band with Scott Kempner, who now I believe lives in LA.”

Dick Manitoba sticks out his tongue at Viper Room - Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia
Dick Manitoba sticks out his tongue at Viper Room – Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

More than 40 years later, When Dictators NYC played the Viper Room a few years back, CaliforniaRocker.com wrote an advance feature story promoting the show.  The band was happy with the article. After the article ran, we requested to be put on the guest list to cover the live event and we were turned down.

We paid for a ticket, covered the show and a few days later received an over-the-top nasty note about how tough life is for the band and that CaliforniaRocker.com has incredible “balls” to ask for a ticket to the show.  The note said: “We’re a bunch of 60-year-olds schlepping in a van, we told you tickets were tight and you’ve got the balls to still ask for a ticket?  We love the article you did but I don’t love that you’re asking for a ticket.”

Dictators NYC with Dick Manitoba was likely the last incarnation of one of punk's greats - Photo 2016 Donna Balancia
Dictators NYC with Dick Manitoba was likely the last incarnation of one of punk’s greats – Photo 2016 Donna Balancia

The rambling, angry note continued on.  But it can’t be obtained now because the group shut down its Dictators NYC Facebook page.

Friedman said he is happy that they had as long a run as they did.

“As far as I’m concerned anything is possible,” he said. “As of now there’s no band. We had a fantastic run with Dictators NYC. We played more places, countries than the old Dictators ever played to. We’ll see what’s next.”

Video courtesy of Jason Barnett: