February 23, 2020

Dick Manitoba on ‘Born In The Bronx’ Album, Jewish Roots and Punk Rock History

Richard "Handsome Dick" Manitoba. Photo courtesy of Richard Manitoba

As the leader of the New York City punk group The Dictators – who many look at as one of the first punk bands ever (their first album came out a year before The Ramones’ debut), Richard “Handsome Dick” Manitoba has been active as an entertainer since the mid-1970s. Beyond his time fronting The Dictators, Manitoba has fronted other bands beyond his work as a DJ (thousands of shows with SiriusXM’s “The Handsome Dick Radio Program”), podcaster (“You Don’t Know Dick”), author (“The Official Punk Rock Book Of Lists”) and public speaker. He was also the namesake and owner of the popular New York bar Manitoba’s, which unfortunately closed earlier this year after two decades in business.

What many people may not realize about “Handsome Dick” Manitoba is that he was born Richard Blum. The New York native was not the only Jewish member of The Dictators, which also included Ross “The Boss” Friedman, Andy Shernoff, Scott “Top Ten” Kempner and J.P. Patterson. On the cover of his new solo album “Born In The Bronx” –as helmed with Jon Tiven (whose credits include Wilson Pickett, Arthur Alexander and Steve Cropper) –Manitoba is noticeably wearing a Star Of David necklace.  

On Dec. 8, 2019, I had the pleasure of speaking with Manitoba by phone about “Born In The Bronx,” his diversified career path, Jews in punk rock, the influence professional wrestling had on his on-stage persona, future plans and more. The full interview is embedded below for your listening pleasure – pardon my stammering as part of the first question – as is Manitoba’s music video for the song “Eve Of Destruction,” a song written by P.F. Sloan (born Philip Gary Schlein) which has also been recorded by many prominent artists including Jan & Dean, The Byrds, The Turtles, Public Enemy, Johnny Thunders, Larry Norman and Tiny Tim.

More on Dick Manitoba can be found online here.

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