ROSS THE BOSS On His Creative Relationship With JOEY DEMAIO: People Called Us 'The LENNON And MCCARTNEY Of Metal Songwriting'

January 7, 2024

In a recent interview with rob wog, former MANOWAR guitarist Ross "The Boss" Friedman reflected on the band's classic debut album, 1982's "Battle Hymns", saying, "It was the start of a lot of things. It was the start of a new vision, a new force in music called power metal."

Asked if he knew MANOWAR was going to become as iconic as it later turned out to be, Ross said: "Joey [DeMaio, MANOWAR bassist] and I knew that our imagery and the messages we were putting out were strong — were really strong — but we didn't realize how strong it was. For some reason, it's embedded itself in Europe and Eastern Europe, and other places. In America, not so much — America in pockets. Because they can't play and demand the same money they get in in Europe. I have my own reasons for why that happened — because we didn't tour enough in America. And while the buzz was on, we let METALLICA, ANTHRAX, TESTAMENT, all the other bands, tour and get all the fricking jack. But MANOWAR is MANOWAR."

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 the aforementioned "Battle Hymns", 1983's "Into Glory Ride" and 1984's "Hail To England".

Speaking about MANOWAR's loincloths-and-oily-pecs image, Ross said: "We always thought that starting with 'Denim And Leather'SAXON, all those bands… People would go, 'Why don't you wear leather and denim?' We'd go, 'We're not that.' We told people we were just not that. I said animal skins is a lot wilder. It's a lot more brutal and wilder than denim and leather, as much as I like denim and leather. So we were coming from a much different spot than those bands."

Recalling MANOWAR's third studio album, Ross said: "That record 'Hail To England' was — I mean, not that 'Sign Of The Hammer', not that 'Into Glory Ride' was a piece of shit. But that record really started to congeal, started to come together, of all of the MANOWAR ideas. 'Cause that session we recorded most of 'Sign Of The Hammer' as well. Those are back in the days that we had plenty of songs and it was never a problem. Between Joey and I, it was never a problem of songs. People would call us like the [John] Lennon and [Paul] McCartney of metal songwriting, because we did six records in six years. Think of that. Now how many have they [MANOWAR] done after that? 13 years between records."

In 2021, Friedman was asked by Waste Some Time With Jason Green if he would consider playing with MANOWAR again, to which 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 clarified to the "Mike Nelson Show" that he only "apologized to the fans" for his comments. "What I said about him, I just said I went against what I believe in, is to not air that shit out in public. And I apologized to the MANOWAR fans for saying that. I didn't apologize to him."

During the aforementioned Waste Some Time With Jason Green interview, Friedman stated about the circumstances surrounding his exit from MANOWAR more than three and a half 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."

In 2022, Friedman told Sofa King Cool about the 40th anniversary of "Battle Hymns": "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 were 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 [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."

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.

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