|Dead Kennedys are one of the most popular and important American punk bands, and they are returning to Australia for three special shows this April.
They formed in San Francisco in 1978 when vocalist Jello Biafra answered a music paper advert placed by guitarist East Bay Ray. They were joined by bassist Klaus Flouride, drummer Ted, and a second guitarist known to posterity simply as 6025.
The latter soon departed, while Ted was replaced in 1981 by D.H. Peligro. Lead vocals are now sung by former Wynona Riders singer Ron “Skip” Greer
Dead Kennedys’ early success led them to record their first single ‘California Über Alles’ in 1979, a blistering attack on the then Governor of California, Jerry Brown. ‘Holiday in Cambodia’ (1980) followed and is perhaps the band’s definitive moment – a perfect mix of hilarious yuppie-baiting lyrics and evil-sounding music. Almost as essential were ‘Kill The Poor’ (1980) and ‘Too Drunk To Fuck’ (remarkably, a British Top 40 single in 1981), and the debut LP, Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables (1980). That LP went on to be awarded a Gold Record in Britain.
Live, Dead Kennedys are a combination of chaos and theatrics. With their current line-up they still perform with the same thrills that made the Dead Kennedys the name that it is.
Two new Dead Kennedy DVDs are out now through Xelon Entertaiment – The Early Years is a collection of live footage at various venues between 1978 to 1981, and In God We Trust which features footage from the lost recording session of In God We Trust Inc., between song banter, outtakes and rescued multi-track recordings.