The story of The Dictators begins when Andy Shernoff met Ross at the party house he lived in near the State University of New Paltz. Ross was in his first band, Total Crudd, when Andy talked him into starting a band with him. They played lots of shows in the NYC area and made a reputation for themselves as cocky loudmouths who poked fun at other bands. This was the beginning of punk rock.
"Yeah, The Dictators. The band that embodied all the elements of junk culture (when it wasn't cool) and threw it right back in the public's and the perplexed critics' faces. A band that helped put a bit of the fun back in rock 'n' roll when it was becoming way too serious, obviously ahead of its time and, while influential on many underground bands (as well as better-known acts), never really getting the credit they deserved. Well, fuck 'em if they can't take a joke."
- Suburban Voice Fanzine #26
The band broke up for two years in 1978. By 1980 The Dictators started to do reunion gigs. This led to a live album, more reunions, tours, another band called Manitoba's Wild Kingdom, which quickly morphed back into The Dictators.
"After a sold-out Dictators reunion show in New York, the magic was still there. Original Dictator Bassist/songwriter Andy Shernoff was gigging in a band with drummer JP Patterson. They got together with two more original Dictators, Ex-Manowar guitarist Ross The Boss and vocalist Dick Manitoba. Hence, the four-piece known as 'Manitoba's Wild Kingdom' was born!!!"
- Drag-in-Bones, MWK Fan
Manitoba's Wild Kingdom was more metal, and more 80's than the Dictators, but the guys always knew who they were. Dictators songs made their way into both the bands live show and the album "...And You?" they released in 1990.
In the early 2000's they were "The Dictators" again with a successful studio album "DFFD". They toured and released a second live album decades after they first began.
The members of The Dictators all always did side projects and they'd all come back together again eventually when the time is right. Any 'breakup' the band ever had was brief and inconsequential in the relative scope of history. They were always the first to tell you the Dictators never broke up, and therefore they don't do "reunions". They just get together and play whenever enough of them are up for it.
In 2006, Ross and Dictators Drummer JP "Thunderbolt" Patterson toured Spain and released a live album with their Spanish half-Spanish supergroup "The Thunderbolts" with Juancho from the band Bummer and Fernando and Miguel Pardo from the band Sex Museum.
While at home, they also collaborated on an instrumental album and made several NYC area appearances under the name "Thunderboss" with bass player Dean Rispler.
In October 2006, the band reunited to headline two special shows the last weekend CBGBs was open. They have the honor of having been the last punk rock band ever to play at this historic venue.
"The Dictators, a New York institution since 1974, were -- and are -- one of these bands that got screwed by poor timing. Making the scene when the New York Dolls were crapping out as trash-rock saviors and being just a little too instrumentally savvy to completely fit in with the CBGB punks that they are always lumped in with, the 'Tators weren't `too much too soon' or even too little too late. They were outcasts in a scene of outcasts..."
The last incarnation of the band included Handsome Dick Manitoba, Ross The Boss, JP Thunderbolt Patterson, Daniel Rey and Dean Rispler. They toured for a few years before they officially broke up in late 2017 with a facebook message to their fans.