Ex-MANOWAR Guitarist ROSS THE BOSS Blasts 'Tyrant' JOEY DEMAIO, Says 'Battle Hymns' Re-Recording 'Sucks'
March 15, 2022
Former MANOWAR guitarist Ross "The Boss" Friedman has blasted re-recorded versions of the band's classic albums, saying the original LPs were "untouchable."
A founding member of MANOWAR, Ross recorded six albums with the band before leaving after 1988's "Kings Of Metal". His work with MANOWAR included such classic LPs as 1982's "Battle Hymns", 1983's "Into Glory Ride" and 1984's "Hail To England".
Friedman reflected on his involvement with MANOWAR during a recent interview with Sofa King Cool. Speaking about the 40th anniversary of "Battle Hymns", Ross said: "It is obviously an iconic record that has pretty much started power metal. We pretty much put power metal on the map with that record. 'Cause there really wasn't power metal before that. I mean, [Ronnie James] Dio did some things amazingly, and Ritchie Blackmore's RAINBOW, of course, but I think 'Battle Hymns' was the first real, true power metal record. That was my baby."
Asked if there are any plans to reissue "Battle Hymns" for its 40th anniversary, Ross said: "That record has been reissued so many times. I was asked to leave MANOWAR in 1988, right after the release of 'Kings Of Metal'. And [Joey DeMaio] has repackaged everything up so many times… He re-recorded 'Battle Hymns'; he re-recorded 'Kings Of Metal'. Both suck. 'Cause you can't re-record a record; you can't redo it. It's like TWISTED SISTER redoing 'Stay Hungry'; you just can't do it. Especially, he did it without me. I mean, I could see if he had the original lineup playing 'Battle Hymns' and the original lineup playing 'Kings Of Metal', with just [drummer] Donnie [Hamzik] instead of Scott [Columbus]; Scott's not with us no more. But without me? And you tune down those songs. They were written in standard pitch. And then MANOWAR's tuning 'em down for [singer] Eric [Adams]. Those songs lose all their energy. No. Nah nah nah nah nah nah. You've gotta leave genius alone, leave greatness alone. They're untouchable."
Pressed about the chances of him reuniting with MANOWAR for a tour celebrating the 40th anniversary of "Battle Hymns", Ross said: "You wouldn't say that I don't have a good relationship with my old partner, but it's just not there. I'm not saying things can't magically patch up. But [Joey] doesn't want any part of me telling him what he should be doing. And it's okay. I'm happy with my band, I'm happy with DEATH DEALER, I'm happy with THE DICTATORS. Hopefully I'm gonna be very, very busy. I don't have to be in a band with a tyrant."
This is not the first time Friedman has been critical of his former band and DeMaio in particular. Last September, Friedman told Waste Some Time With Jason Green about the circumstances surrounding his exit from the group more than three decades ago: "When a band gets big and the money hits, greed, avarice and evil takes place. A guy that I thought was my partner wasn't," he said, referring to DeMaio. "So he wanted me [out]. He goes, 'You've gotta go.' I go, 'Really? I've gotta go why? I've gotta go why? We're equal partners, 50 percent. Why do I have to go? Why don't you go?' The whole thing is he was so — his antics and his bullshit was so insane that I had it up to [my neck] with him. When you have it up to [your neck] with someone, you've just gotta go, 'Get the fuck outta here. I can't take this anymore.'
"[It was] ego, greed, avarice, evil [that caused me to depart]," he explained. "When [Joey] met me, I had already four major albums. He had done zero. Joey DeMaio was nobody. When he met me, I had already done four. I had no will to fight him. If I were to fight him, I would have killed him. He's just a fucking pariah… You can't live with that. My heart couldn't take it. I can't take evil. And I know people are gonna be… [It's gonna be] hard [for them] to hear that, but I'm better off now. I really am."
Ross went on to say that he had never been approached about returning to MANOWAR. As for whether he would consider playing with the band again, he said: "Well, if the financial arrangements were right. But [Joey is] the kind of scumbag that would never have that… I'll never say no, but you never know. I just called him a scumbag, so… It's not gonna happen. He's secure in the fact that MANOWAR are mediocre fucking pieces of shit right now. What they're putting out to the public [is] just terrible."
After BLABBERMOUTH.NET published Ross's comments from the Waste Some Time With Jason Green interview, he sent a short statement conveying a more conciliatory tone. "I would like to apologize to MANOWAR, the fans and Joey for the insult," he wrote. "If anyone knows me, you know that's not my style for saying things like that. I violated my own rule. Again, I am truly sorry."
Ross later expressed his remorse further in an interview with Italy's TrueMetal.it, explaining that he never should have allowed his original comments to reach the general public.
"Let me say right from the start it came out of my mouth and I take full responsibility for what I said," Ross said. "But I usually edit all my interviews. Journalists will send it back to me. Jason Green is a good guy, and he said, 'I will send it back to you and we'll go over it.' 'Cause you never know if you want it to go out to the public. For some reason, I never did that in this situation with that interview. I know part one I did, and part two I didn't, for some reason. Now, if I would have saw that, do you think I would have let that out? No. But you know something? People say things, and sometimes they just say things. And I definitely said that.
"Let's just say MANOWAR's music now is different," he continued. "I'm not gonna say what I said; I'm just gonna call it different. It's different from my six records, the band that was playing when I was in the band. That's all I'm gonna say.
"And as far as my attack on Mr. DeMaio, well, that's my business with him. And I aired it, and I shouldn't have aired it — calling him the 's-bag' word. And it was quite unprofessional of me. And I violated my own rule. My own rule being… I always knew this. My father told me when I first started — God rest his soul — he goes, 'Ross, if you don't have anything good to say about someone, don't say it. You'll do better in life.' If I didn't have anything good to say, I shouldn't have said it. And it was unprofessional of me.
"I still think that MANOWAR is different, and I have my issues with Joey," Ross added. "But as far as everything else, I do apologize for my unprofessionality."
Ross was one of the pioneers of both punk rock and heavy metal. First crashing on the scene with THE DICTATORS and with such classic albums as 1975's "Go Girl Crazy!", 1977's "Manifest Destiny" and 1978's "Bloodbrothers", Ross helped trailblaze punk rock (just to put it all in perspective, "Go Girl Crazy!" arrived a full year before the RAMONES' debut, and two years before THE CLASH's and SEX PISTOLS' debuts). By the end of the '80s, Ross had reconnected with his DICTATORS bandmates in MANITOBA'S WILD KINGDOM, which served as a bridge between his love of punk and metal, as heard on the group's popular 1990 debut, "…And You?" Throughout the remainder of the decade, Ross also played with such groups as THE HELLACOPTERS and THE SPINATRAS, before THE DICTATORS reunited, which resulted in several new releases starting from the late '90s all the way through the early 21st century. Also around this time, Ross joined forces with former of BLUE ÖYSTER CULT drummer Albert Bouchard in the band BRAIN SURGEONS. With Ross's main focus turning to metal music at this time, two additional projects were launched — DEATH DEALER and his solo outfit, ROSS THE BOSS.