“At the end of the film classic Conan the Destroyer, the title character sits on his throne. Though his thick muscles bear the scars of his many hard fought battles, his steel-eyed gaze over his vast kingdom shows how proud and mighty he remains. His enemies vanquished, the challengers to his throne dispatched, it is time for the triumphant king to rest.”
And so opens the online biography for the band Manowar; their own biography on their own website that they themselves authored. Most band biographies start out with where the band met (always during or just after art university if the bands are British, and usually in some sort of basement party for American bands), their influences, etc. Not Manowar. Manowar says “we’re Conan the Destroyer, we have a throne, and we had some enemies. The enemies are gone, and the throne is still here under our collective, overly muscled buttocks.” That’s some pretty impressive stuff. Mind you, this is the band who, in the same biography, reminds you that they were the first metal band to introduce the elements of swordplay and sorcery into their cover art and lyrics. Conan would be pleased. But there is a problem.
The original, co-founding bassist for this band was Ross Friedman. Now, Ross understood he needed a nickname. Unfortunately, Ross took the traditional “what rhymes with…” approach to nicknaming and ended up with “The Boss.” Ross The Boss. One of the men in the picture above (yes, Manowar actually were/still are totally ripped and wore loincloths) is Ross The Boss. That’s just awful. It’s not bad for, perhaps, a funk band, maybe a “Grand Funk” band, or, I don’t know, Bruce Springsteen, but this is Conan the Destroyer we’re talking about here. Not “Conan the Good at Swords.” With this said, wouldn't it have made sense for Ross "The Boss" to change his name to "Dragon Floss" Ross upon his founding of Manowar? Again, every band can have a boss. Springsteen is “the boss” (in no way do I mean that literally. If I met him, I would say to him "You sir, are not the boss of anything except crap and Jann Wenner. I say good day to you sir!"). But how many bands have a backstory that involves their bassist surviving multiple dragon attacks? (Which, if you think about it, is the only way for a living person to obtain the the nickname Dragon Floss…see where I’m going now?) I’m pretty sure none of them do, and that is patently ridiculous.
The fact that there are no issues of Kerrang, or Hit Parader, or Circus - whatever - with "Dragon Floss" Ross explaining how he has repeatedly, despite great the peril, climbed the hidden Mountain of Molten Blood, where years ago he discovered the world's last remaining dragons guarding the Ancient Texts of Odin's Muses... I'm telling you, a lot of kids are shoving bad metal music, booze and crystal meth into the "that" sized holes in their lives. Ross really let us down on that one.
Part of me wants to write Manowar a letter, explaining how they should listen to me, because I’m probably the only person who’s not a current or former member of the band that sees himself as a Viking in every single one of his own memories. That’s called “cred” when you’re talking Manowar. But it’s too late. Ross “The Boss” has long since left Manowar, and we’re stuck with the story of Ross Friedman meeting some other dude at a Black Sabbath concert and forming Manowar. Not the worst backstory, not the best, but unless that Black Sabbath concert was played in a volcano of molten blood for an audience of ancient dragons perched upon the giant, iron clad texts written by the giant, iron clad chicks who served as Odin’s muses…
Once again, Manowar, you have let me down, you have let yourselves down, and most importantly, you’ve let Conan down.