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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
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: Live At The Deaf Club

1. Introduction By DJ Johnny Walker

2. Kill The Poor (Disco Version)

3. Back In Rhodesia

4. Man With The Dogs

5. Gaslight (Live)

6. California Uber Alles (Live)

7. Ill In The Head

8. Straight A's

9. Short Songs

10. Holiday In Cambodia (Live)

11. Police Truck

12. Forward To Death

13. Have I The Right

14. Back In The USSR

15. Viva Las Vegas

x

Track List: Mutiny On The Bay (Live)

1. Introduction (Live)

2. Police Truck (Live)

3. Kill The Poor (Live)

4. Holiday In Cambodia (Live)

5. Moon Over Marin (Live)

6. California Uber Alles (Live)

7. MTV-Get Off The Air (Live)

8. Too Drunk To F**k (Live)

9. Goons Of Hazzard (Live)

10. This Could Be Anywhere (Live)

11. Forward To Death (Live)

12. I Am The Owl (Live)

13. Hell Nation (Live)

14. Riot (Live)

x

Track List: Plastic Surgery Disasters / In God We Trust, Inc.

1. Advice From Christmas Past

2. Goverment Flu

3. Terminal Preppie

4. Trust Your Mechanic

5. Well Paid Scientist

6. Buzzbomb

7. Forest Fire

8. Halloween

9. Winnebago Warrior

10. Riot

11. Bleed For Me

12. I Am The Owl

13. Dead End

14. Moon Over Marin

15. Religious Vomit

16. Moral Majority

17. Hyperactive Child

18. Kepone Factory

19. Dog Bite

20. Nazi Punks F**k Off

21. We've Got A Bigger Problem Now

22. Rawhide

x

Track List: Give Me Convenience Or Give Me Death

1. Police Truck

2. Too Drunk To F**k

3. California Über Alles

4. The Man With The Dogs

5. Insight

6. Life Sentence

7. A Child And His Lawnmower

8. Holiday In Cambodia

9. I Fought The Law

10. Saturday Night Holocaust

11. Pull My Strings

12. Short Songs

13. Straight A's

14. Kinky Sex Makes The World Go 'Round

15. The Prey

16. Night Of The Living Rednecks

17. Buzzbomb From Pasadena

x

Track List: Bedtime For Democracy

1. Take This Job And Shove It

2. Hop With The Jet Set

3. Dear Abby

4. Rambozo The Clown

5. Fleshdunce

6. The Great Wall

7. Shrink

8. Triumph Of The Swill

9. Macho Insecurity

10. I Spy

11. Cesspools In Eden

12. One-Way Ticket To Pluto

13. Do The Slag

14. A Commercial

15. Gone With My Wind

16. Anarchy For Sale

17. Chickenshit Conformist

18. Where Do Ya Draw The Line

19. Potshot Heard 'round The World

20. D.M.S.O.

21. Lie Detector

x

Track List: Frankenchrist

1. Soup Is Good Food

2. Hellnation

3. This Could Be Anywhere

4. A Growing Boy Needs His Lunch

5. Chicken Farm

6. Jock-O-Rama

7. Goons Of Hazzard

8. Get Off The Air

9. At My Job

10. Stars And Stripes Of Corruption

x

Track List: Fresh Fruit For Rotting Vegetables

1. Kill The Poor

2. Forward To Death

3. When Ya Get Drafted

4. Let's Lynch The Landlord

5. Drug Me

6. Your Emotions

7. Chemical Warfare

8. California Uber Alles

9. I Kill Children

10. Stealing People's Mail

11. Funland At The Beach

12. Ill In The Head

13. Holiday In Cambodia

14. Viva Las Vegas

x

Track List: Milking The Sacred Cow

1. California Uber Alles

2. Police Truck

3. Kill The Poor

4. Holiday In Cambodia

5. Nazi Punks F**k Off

6. Too Drunk To F**k

7. Viva Las Vegas

8. Moon Over Marin

9. Halloween

10. MTV Get Off The Air

11. Soup Is Good Food (Live)

12. Jock-O-Rama (Live)

Comments

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D. Peligro...
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I got 2 punisher shirts and one of psylocke
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is it 4xl ?
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And I seen a Misfits shirt in Walmart .
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the misfits and dead kennedys are in the dirty dozen. most wanted list.
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rip motorhead
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"Don't hate the media, become the media." - Jello Biafra ❤
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milosdad
I remember when DK were new on the scene. There was such a big uproar from conservative s about the danger these musicians. I especially recall one news story that had a woman sobbing as she read the Lyrics to I Kill Children. It made me laugh and it made Jello, who was sitting next to her, grin.
They were one of the most important entities in the fight against censorship an one of the most intelligent bands out there.
Also, great live.
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Punk bands when punk was good.
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Whoever said s**tty music must have been hearing punk for the first time.f u
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Damn, Chickenshit Conformist is soo accurate to the scene nowadays
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George Kennedy was in The Dirty Dozen... :)
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Forgive me fa not knoin but wut is the dirty dozen????
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a most wanted band and in the dirty dozen
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⚡️❤️⚡️ God bless the Kennedy's
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codylalonde0 1
Too drunk to f**k.
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What a bunch of (Chichenshit Conformists! ! ! )
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DK! hell yeah
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to troll or to be trolled that is the question
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elisoyfalas
WHAT A BUNCH OF WEIRDOS.! S**TTY A** MUSIC.!
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Google Jello Biafra Levi's and you'll see why it matters. Why do I spend so much time educating you guys? I should just leave you in ignorance!
Report as inappropriate
tlandry043
King wiener is the biggest troll on here. Along with the dummy below.
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no no not me... I'm against ignorance, racism, homophobes ... wait... was that meant to be a complement ??? Nicko and I don't always see things eye to eye but I don't think he's one of the ignorant annoyances.. . . ???
Report as inappropriate
what the FUC% do you wear? Jordache, or some lame A$S $500.00 VonBitch rip off brand? NO WAIT!..... Daisy Dukes... Levi 501s are an American institution you ignorant FUC%
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Jello wears Levi Jeans, what a sell out douche.
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progpond3
@DMS, OK, I give in. I just heard Kill the Poor.... and well.... In fact, I --still-- like to quote JB's opening line in that show: 'There's no punk rock in Argentina, or Nebraska'
Report as inappropriate
yeah you can't judge a band my who opens up for them that's just silly, I saw them 3 or 4 times back in the day and they killed it every time, as for the legal s**t there's always going to be friction between ex bandmates that's just going to happen, unfortunate but reality
Report as inappropriate
progpond3
@DMS: I gotta admit their show absent the shitey warm up acts, was pretty damn good. Maybe I'm just disillusione d by the whole royalty dispute thing, and it's clouding my judgment. Hell, when I don't think about that I guess I still like the music...
Report as inappropriate
PROGPOND3, are you kidding? fresh fruit for rotting vegetables is one of best punk albums of all time, but to each his own I guess, but yeah they have stood the test of time as I'm sure a lot of people would agree with me
Report as inappropriate
missycat_97
Love these f**kers!
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If you listen really close. You can hear
"Kinky sex makes the world go round ". In the remake of the Manchurian Candidate! Crazy... I couldn't believe it but its there.
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Never too drunk to f**k. F**king drunk for me is shooting pool with a jump rope!!!! Maybe sometimes too drunk
Report as inappropriate
progpond3
For me the DKs haven't really stood the test of time like the ' Pistols, Avengers, etc will still listen to stuff like Holiday inn Cambodia, but it doesn't raise the same feelings that other bands still do. Saw them once, they had the two worst opening bands in the history of punk rock; the bass player for one of them spent more time puking on stage than playing the bass. I guess he was Too drunk to F**k...
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plastic surgery disasters is my favorite 80s punk album!
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Ahead of their time. Musically speaking, untouched by any band to this day. Uncanny musicianship /Superb musicality.
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Kill kill kill kill kill the poor tonight.
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NAZI PUNKS
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Sid couldn't even play.
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Sid was ahead of his time dead Kennedys good but not as pure as the pistols my opinion
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Fugazi radio needs more dc band.s kingface soulside shudder to think rites of spring gray matter marginal man ......get it??????
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That's not necessarily true it depends on opinion
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Dead Kennedys are better then the Sex Pistols.
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Artier newyorkers?? Huh?
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DK has been my milk and gram crackers since 79' to name one of many greats...
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I'm sorry I take that back... but that landlord was a stone cold b**ch!!!!!
Report as inappropriate
Lynch the landlord is about the landlord of the farm (big punk hub in 80's) she kicked them out even if they had enough money to buy the farm. My (punk) dad did a documentry about the farm (it's on youtube)
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My dad knows Jello!!!!!!! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! (Who is so awesome)
Report as inappropriate
Jello u think I can eat a b**ch out on stage?... Oh yeah i can
Report as inappropriate
Yeah the Dead Kennedys are a great punk band-about the only good one to come out of the Bay Area. T.S.O.L. stomps the life out of all the all of you. And the band was great also.
Report as inappropriate
Jerry Brown is back! God help CA
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