This just in... the members' REAL names...
East Bay Ray - Ray Peppernell, Klaus Flouride - Geoffrey Lyall, D.H. Peligro - Darren Henley, Jello Biafra - Eric Boucher... Now, on to the feature presentation...
It all began when East Bay Ray placed an ad in a music paper. It was responded to by non other than Jello Biafra (Eric Boucher), who was seeking a job and wanted to be the vocalist for the band.
They were soon joined by bassist Klaus Flouride, drummer Bruce Slesinger, and another guitarist known as 6025. He left in March of '79 and Slesinger was replaced by D.H. Peligro in 1981.
The British punk scene had yet to impact America fully, mainly because of the large size of the country, compared to the much smaller England. Bands with little money couldn't travel abroad. The Sex Pistols toured in late '77, but fell apart after a show in San Francisco, and Biafra was there to witness the occasion. Fueled by this and a trip to Britain in 1977, in the middle of full blown punk, Biafra began to feel a need to spread it in the States. America was primed for punk, aided with the unique culture of the time. The Dead Kennedys played their first performance in July 1978, and that set a precedent for what was to come. It was clear from the start that the Dead Kennedys were not your average band.
Biafra's lyrical themes were mainly poltical, attacking the Government under the control of Ronald Reagan, the Klan, big business, and such. All songs had a glorious sense of sarcasm, from "Let's Lynch the Landlord" to "Chemical Warfare". The band remained special, backed up by the incredible way that Biafra sang, truly, never has been duplicated, and the strong political viewpoints of the band. But they weren't just talk. Most notably was Biafra's run for mayor of San Francisco in 1979. This began as a prank, but turned into a serious campaign, where he received the votes of those that were fed up with the current candidates. Key platforms included the clown suit wearing of business men, and, remarkably, he placed fourth out of ten. Imagine what the bottom six felt like.
Obviously, even the name of the band was designed to offend people, or at least gain notice. To the delight of the band, they got the attention of far right groups, which led to problems, namely their difficult relationship with authorities, and the abundance of police at typical concerts. (Don't the police have anything better to do? They probably thought moshes were riots in the makings.) $20.00 - $40.00