Dead Kennedys

1978-1987, 2001-
Jello BiafraVocals1978-1987
East Bay RayGuitar
Klaus FlourideBass
D.H. PeligroDrums1981-1987
Brandon CruzVocals2001-2003
Jeff PenaltyVocals2003-2008
Skip GreerVocals2008-

Dead Kennedys Artistfacts

  • Biafra picked his name randomly out of a notebook. He later said he liked the way the two images- Jello, a consumer product, and Biafra, a poor third world country that is now part of Nigeria - collided in people's minds.
  • The Dead Kennedys' first single, "California Über Alles," was an attack on then governor Jerry Brown and his brand of "zen fascism." However, the title was often misinterpreted and used as a slogan by skinheads in the punk scene.
  • Dead set against signing a record deal, Biafra started his own record label, Alternative Tentacles, to distribute the music of the Dead Kennedys. The label went on to distribute music from acts such as DOA, 7 Seconds, and Butthole Surfers.
  • Biafra ran for mayor of San Francisco in 1979, coming in fourth out of 10 candidates with over 6000 votes. Supervisor Quentin Kopp soon enacted a law banning people from running for mayor using "funny names."
  • Their 1981 single "Too Drunk To F--k" actually hit the charts in the UK, despite (or because of) a ban from airplay.
  • The release of their 1985 album Frankenchrist led to the first-ever case of a band being brought to trial over the content of an album. A painting by the Swiss surrealist artist H.R. Giger that depicted rows of penises engaged in intercourse was included with the album. The band was brought to trial for "distributing harmful matter to minors." The jury was deadlocked so the case ended in a mistrial, but the band was financially devastated and soon broke up.
  • A 1998 lawsuit against Biafra gave Flouride, Peligro and East Bay Ray control of the Dead Kennedys name, so they activated the group, which had split up in 1987, with a new lead singer, Brandon Cruz. Biafra has steadfastly refused offers to reunite with the group.
  • D.H. Peligro played drums with The Red Hot Chili Peppers from 1988-1989. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Colton - Puyallup, WA
  • In 2008, Flouride announced that a skin condition known as Angiodema would keep him from touring with the Dead Kennedys. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Bertrand - Paris, France
  • Biafra remained a vocal opponent of censorship and injustice, touring the country and giving lectures. He released several albums of spoken word material. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Andrew - Tucson, AZ

Comments: 3

  • Kim from Stuart, FlI love DK, but the idea of seven albums of spoken-word Jello Biafra existing side-by-side in a record shop or somebody's shelf somewhere is a little disturbing.
  • Mike from Melrose, MaEast Bay Ray was the one who originally started Alternative Tentacle, and Biafra later went on to take over its operation.
  • Stanley from Dallas, TxThe information about the Frankenchrist obscenity trial is partially incorrect. Dee Snider, John Denver, and Frank Zappa did NOT testify at the trial. The author is confusing the Dead Kennedys case with the Senate Commerce Committe hearing on record labeling in 1985 (this happened before the Dead Kennedys trial). Snider, Denver, and Zappa did in fact testify during that hearing.
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