Thursday , October 21 2021

“Let’s Lynch the Lead Singer”

After three years of appeals, virtually nothing changed in the Jello Biafra-Dead Kennedys legal dispute over (what the hell else is new?) royalties, songwriting credits, all the usual depressing crap you would hope a bunch of old idealistic punks could avoid. But no:

    Former Dead Kennedys lead singer Jello Biafra must pay $220,000 in back royalties and other damages to the other members of his band, an appeals court judge has ruled.

    A three-judge panel of a state appeals court in an unpublished opinion Wednesday upheld an earlier ruling against Biafra for breach of contract and fraud.

    ….The panel also decided that the band’s creative output, including songs “Holiday in Cambodia” and “Kill the Poor,” belongs to a partnership formed among the four band members.

    ….”Biafra’s fraudulent actions precipitated the rift in the partnership and made it impossible for the partnership to carry on its business as it had in the past,” Justice Maria P. Rivera wrote for the court.

    The San Francisco-based punk band performed together from 1978 to 1986. The band recently reformed without Biafra and is playing again as the Dead Kennedys, according to their publicist Josh Mills. [AP]

Note the first verdict from 2000:

    A Superior Court jury in San Francisco shocked former Dead Kennedys singer Jello Biafra by ruling on the side of his ex-bandmates and awarding them $200,000 on Friday (May 19).

    Biafra (Eric Reed Boucher) was sued by former members, East Bay Ray (Ray Pepperell), Klaus Flouride (Geoffrey Lyall), and D.H. Peligro (Darren Henley), claiming that he failed to promote the group’s back catalog and failed to pay back royalties, among other charges.

    Biafra will appeal the decision. He told LAUNCH he’s not going down without a fight. “They kind of want to throw the baby out with the bathwater and cut the heart out of the legacy of our band and sell the body parts down the river,” he said. “I mean, recourse is fighting against their lawsuit instead of rolling over and playing dead and letting Bill Graham’s lawyers decide what. . . to act as my boss. I mean, I wrote most of those songs, and it means more to me than it ever did to them. And I don’t want it turned into something that I’m going to be ashamed of the rest of my life.” [Launch]

Okay then. Biafra has a lot of energy and personality, but he’s also a freaking idiot. His scabrous anti-everything line was already getting old in the Dead Kennedy days, but at least there were some great songs around it. A relaxation of ego tripping could have saved everyone a shitload in legal fees.

Anyway, our wKen wrote a great review here of a DK show, minus Jello, last November. Check it out:

    While the last opening band put away their equipment and the roadies set things up for DK, I staked out my spot directly in front of the stage. I was surrounded by 30-something guys, reminiscing about how crazy things got the last time they saw DK live. It wasn’t long before almost everyone in the place had formed a thick standing crowd behind us.

    When the house lights went out, it reminded me of the first time I got caught in a really big ocean wave. The crowd surged forward, crushing me. Then it shifted left, right, back and forth. I grabbed onto a speaker and tried to hold my prime spot as DK took the stage. The first chords sounded so loud that I couldn’t believe the people without earplugs were still standing. People behind me where pushing and pulling my body at the same time. Those beside me where getting smashed together while someone else tried to force their way to the front of the stage.

    Brandon was wearing a sleeveless denim jacket and red knit cap that wouldn’t stay on long. Klaus Flouride, the original DK bassist and East Bay Ray, the co-founding guitarist looked more like middle-aged computer geeks than punk rockers. The drummer, D.H. Peligro , with his long wild braided hair was the only one that looked the part of a rock star. I really didn’t pay a lot of attention to the band. I was too occupied with the music and the crowd. It was mob anarchy.


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About Eric Olsen

Career media professional and serial entrepreneur Eric Olsen flung himself into the paranormal world in 2012, creating the America's Most Haunted brand and co-authoring the award-winning America's Most Haunted book, published by Berkley/Penguin in Sept, 2014. Olsen is co-host of the nationally syndicated broadcast and Internet radio talk show After Hours AM; his entertaining and informative America's Most Haunted website and social media outlets are must-reads: [email protected],, Pinterest America's Most Haunted. Olsen is also guitarist/singer for popular and wildly eclectic Cleveland cover band The Props.

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