Even way before bands like THE RAMONES, THE DEAD BOYS, and the SEX PISTOLS were heard of, THE DICTATORS (formed in New York City) were making good old-fashioned punk rock music as far back as 1973. And in 1975, after employing their “Secret Weapon” Handsome Dick Manitoba, THE DICTATORS recorded Go Girl Crazy! and immediately began acquiring a cult-like following for their unique punk/garage/rock sound and offbeat sense of humor.
Many rock music historians have opined that it was THE DICTATORS who helped define the “proto-punk” genre. After all, it was THE DICTATORS who inspired John Holmstrom and Legs McNeil to create Punk magazine, which later became a “bible” of sorts of the punk rock movement of the late seventies.
Go Girl Crazy! was originally released in 1975 on the Epic Records label. It was produced by Murray Krugman and Sandy Pearlman (who also worked very closely with BLUE OYSTER CULT).
And it was on this record, where we first started to hear loud and dirty punk music blended with faster heavy metal riffs (founding guitarist Ross “the Boss” Friedman later went on to form MANOWAR).
While we often think of bands like the NEW YORK DOLLS, MC5, and THE STOOGES as godfathers of proto-punk n’ roll, THE DICTATORS are sometimes over-looked in the discussion.
While bad management, poorly planned tours, and in-fighting were said to have brought on the bands’ downfall, Epic Records dumped the band shortly after the records’ release citing poor sales. The band then broke up for a while, reconvened again in 1976 (with some member swap-outs and re-joins), and released their second album, Manifest Destiny, in 1977. And by then, bands like THE RAMONES had begun to cement themselves as New York’s darlings of high-energy (and humorous) punk n’ roll.
Nevertheless, THE DICTATORS will go down in rock and roll history as trailblazers of the mid-seventies punk rock explosion – paving the way for bands like THE RAMONES, THE FLESHTONES, and even THE MISFITS.
Handsome Dick Manitoba even went on to front MC5 circa 2003 for several performances and reunion shows, after original MC5 singer Rob Tyner passed in 1991.
Go Girl Crazy! features [cheesy] covers of Sonny Bono’s “I Got You Babe” and The Rivieras’ “California Sun.” And songs like “Back to Africa,” “Two Tub Man,” and “(I Live For) Cars and Girls” wreak of main song-writer Andy Shernoff’s hilarious, wise-ass, “smart guys who like dumb stuff” sense of humor.
It makes complete sense that two guys so addicted to the songs would start a magazine (Punk) strictly so that they could “hang out with THE DICTATORS.”