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Dead Kennedys

The Dead Kennedys merged revolutionary politics with hardcore punk music and, in the process, became one of the defining hardcore bands. Often, they were more notable for their politics than their music, but that was part of their impact. The Kennedys were more inspired by British punk and the fiery, revolutionary-implied politics of the Sex Pistols than the artier tendencies of New York punk rockers. Under the direction of lead vocalist Jello Biafra, the Dead Kennedys became the most political and -- to the eyes of many observers, including Christians and right-wing politicians -- the most dangerous band in hardcore. By the mid-'80s, the band had become notorious enough to open themselves up to a prosecution for obscenity (concerning a poster inserted into their 1985 Frankenchrist album), and the ensuing court battle sped the band toward a breakup, but they left behind a legacy that influenced countless punk bands that followed.

The Dead Kennedys formed in 1978 in San Francisco when Biafra (vocals; born Eric Boucher) and bassist Klaus Flouride responded to a magazine ad placed by guitarist East Bay Ray. Drummer Ted (born Bruce Slesinger) joined soon after and the band played locally for the first two years of their career, occasionally venturing outside the Bay Area. Within a year, the band released their first independent single, "California Über Alles," an attack on the then-current governor, Jerry Brown. It was followed shortly afterward by their second single, "Holiday in Cambodia." In 1979, Biafra ran for mayor of San Francisco; he finished fourth. By this time, the band had become quite popular in both the American and British underground. Finally, in 1980, the band released their debut album, Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables, on IRS Records. After its release, Ted left the band; he was replaced by drummer Darren H. Peligro.

Following the release of Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables, the Dead Kennedys formed their own independent record label, Alternative Tentacles, in 1981. The first release on the label was the Kennedys' EP, In God We Trust. That same year, the single "Too Drunk to F**k" scraped the bottom of Britain's pop Top 40, despite being banned from airplay. In 1982, the Kennedys released their second full-length album, Plastic Surgery Disasters. After its release, the band took a hiatus, during which bandmembers -- most notably Klaus Flouride -- performed with various side projects. During that time, Alternative Tentacles began to establish itself as a major force in the American underground.

The Dead Kennedys returned in 1985 with Frankenchrist, which was the record that earned the band its greatest notoriety. Included with the album was a poster of the Swiss artist H.R. Giger's Landscape #XX, a garish illustration of penises and anuses. A year after the release of the album, the Kennedys and Alternative Tentacles were prosecuted under revised Californian anti-obscenity laws for distributing pornography to minors because of the poster. For the next two years, the band was embroiled in a bitter legal battle, during which Biafra emerged as one of the most articulate advocates for free speech and vocal opponents of the PMRC. In the summer of 1987, the case ended with a hung jury and was dismissed.

Although the Dead Kennedys emerged victorious from the court battle, they didn't remain a band for much longer. Just before the prosecution began in 1986, the band released Bedtime for Democracy, which turned out to be their last official album. After the case was settled, the Kennedys split, releasing the posthumous compilation Give Me Convenience or Give Me Death in 1987. Biafra embarked on a solo career, releasing musical and spoken-word recordings sporadically over the next couple decades. Flouride returned to his fledgling solo career, releasing two albums in the late '80s and early '90s. The DVD format of Dmpo's On Broadway, the Dead Kennedys' June 1984 performance marking the closing of San Francisco's avant-garde theater and nightclub, was released in May 2000. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

Comments

To f**ked to drunk
Reagan youth moo
Obama and Bush are the same. Both suck ballz. Kiss your freedom goodbye. Ron Paul was the only good politician and he's retired.
good band.
he's got a cool voice
Soup is good FOOOOOOOD!
Punk rock as it was meant to be!
One of my all time favorite bands social punk real deal punk like it should be
more than hears the ear
Why did everyone hate them.irony I guess.
Punx not dead in cuba clandestine punk bands at risk of arrest and instruments confiscated listen to porno para ricardo band no longer together but the band is true punk in an opprsed society
jvrieker hey dumb fvck if obama was a dictator who could post that bs and still be alive, go suck bush kawk
Let's be honest guys, they'd tear any president apart no matter how good or bad they were. Every president makes mistakes and these guys would be the first to point them out. Love this band for their fast, aggressive and politically charged playing. They made some valid points about our society in general while still having some great punk music behind it. The original line up is nothing short of punk royalty.
they would hate bush more, Obama is better than Bush
jvrieker
I listen to the DKs more now that Obama is dictator than I did in the 80s. The dks would shred Obama and the Democrat's fascism.
the way Pandora takes out spaces and paragraphs is really annoying.
@rkgrajeda14 Being alive in modern American society IS being a sell-out. its about realizing it.

truth.

Unless you live off the grid (including no computers, genius) and wear homespun, you're sucking the Man's corporate dick. every hour. every day. taste good? mmmm, cheetos and Tecate...

The original DKs deserve respect for being one of the early and loudest voices spreading the truth. and for giving others a hand up do the same.
best band ever
If you are going to use homophobia in the name of the dk's, jackieo2, learn to spell (thow). Otherwise, dick-suckers like me will correct you in front of all your internet friends.
Jello would spit on the pistols.and even thow east bay ray and the rest were good musicians they can all suck a dick for trying to think they can capitalize of punk .
Saw them at Bond's (NYC) in 1981 , I was a wee lad, still remember those 15 days that claim to have started the Time Square Riot of 1981.All before NYC turned to shite.
mydogismuklu k s
Rock on Joseph Shepard.
I love this band and they're not sellouts they are just doing their own s**t nowadays but everyone still loves them too much of the few people who don't can go f**k themselves not that I really care about them or anything but I just have a traumatic brain injury and have been drugged up so that I have not able to say anything to anyone in person in a really long time so I just got my tablet back so I decided to go ahead and write a review on here and now I have to go back to therapy because my n
Jello for prez.
@buckithead9 You don't know s**t about Punk. The Kennedys only managed three shows in 2010 because their heart was gone. Jello Biafra never sold out. The Guantanamo School of Medicine continues to educate. A Punk that revisits a piece of history is a man on a mecca. That is what they are. Think you know about sellouts... Where you pull this s**t from? Probably your own a**. Keep acting like you know things, monkey.
They suck now. If you have seen them in concert in the past ten years your as much as a sell out as they are
dead kennedys/min o r threat citrus college 1981 best punk show ever the filth came in full riot gear and just starting swinging billy clubs at everybody this was a true punk rock show
max.fullpric e
This freaked me out. Copy and paste this on ten comments and you will have the best day of your life tomorrow. You will either get kissed or get asked out. If you thus break this chain you will see a dead girl In you room tonight. In the next 53 someone will say I love you or I'm sorry
dead kennedys best punk band
viola.jimene z 8 3 1
Blaze it
pegasi77
This freaked me out. Copy and paste this on ten comments and you will have the best day of your life tomorrow. You will either get kissed or get asked out. If you thus break this chain you will see a dead girl In you room tonight. In the next 53 someone will say I love you or I'm sorry
Yea moomoo007 your a f**king f**ot greenday really ..... p**che joto!
MooMoo007 I hope to God that's sarcasm
I think Jerry browns back in office, and it more like USA über allies with "broke" Obama running ship. What's happening to this country. Jello for prez!
what happened with jello anyway? sorry, i knew there were issues but i missed something
yeah jello needa quit hijackin other bands fr fr tho
I wish Jello, and the rest of the band would settle there problems and get back together. Because, we need them more than ever now with this government shutdown
eziokilz4fun n 2
You all suck but dk is the s**t
What's this crap? I'm going to go listen to some REAL punk music like GREEN DAY!
Follow for follow
blindmongoos e
Punk/Hardcor e is a way of life not a fashion statement im 42 still wear my doc martins or chucks still go to shows and still bleed for my beliefs.
Jello Biafra is the most punk rock name ever
I played with the dks back in the early90s at a 500 seat venue 10 miles north of boston, it was like a rugby scrum broke open a wasps nest, f**kin carnage nsued, blood, guts spit and a**,,, good times, the real funny thing was the owner of the venue was under the impression it was a fun raiser for ted kennedy. true story
Misfits station plays great songs EVERYTIME!
MTV IS FOR LOSERS
1109269775
Awesome
Too bad no one at my school likes punk...I BLAME MTV!:I
We need to kickstart the punk movement once again!!!!!! PUNK FOREVER!!!! follow me if you agree!!!!
F#*!-IN PUNK ROCK man!
Being alive in modern American society IS being a sell-out. its about realizing it. even if you die today the pine box they put you in is from a corporate lumber yard that buys wood from company that uses fuel from big oil companies to fuel the chainsaws made by big corporations that help cut down big trees. we should just be thankful that there are people like Jello to open eyes,ears,an d minds to a less stiff way of thinking
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