Dead Kennedys


Dead Kennedys  is an American hardcore punk band formed in San Francisco, California in 1978. The band became part of the American hardcore punk movement of the early 1980s. They gained a large underground fanbase in the international punk rock community, and were one of the first American hardcore bands to make a significant impact in the United Kingdom.  (More from Wikipedia)
Punk rockers often pick out wacko names; frontman Jello Biafra of the Dead Kennedys, drummer Rat Scabies of the Damned, and of course Johnny Rotten and Sid Vicious of Sex Pistols are examples.  Usually it is just one or two bandmembers who do that, but all of the Ugly did:  Mike Nightmare (singer), Raymi Gutter (guitar), Sam Ugly (bass), and Tony Torcher (drums), plus soundman Johnny Garbagecan
(November 2011)
*       *      *
I was introduced to Dead Hippie in their performance on New Wave Theatre, the punk rock showcase on late night TV that originated from Los Angeles.  Dead Kennedys is about the only band that I had previously heard of which I saw on that show, but most have landed articles in Wikipedia (punk rockers have a lot of fans it seems).  To date, the only other UARB from New Wave Theatre that I have included in this series is the Unknowns
(July 2012)
*       *       *
LootersFlashpoint – My copy of this 1990 CD has a sticker on it with a list of the dates in their U.S. tour, so it might have been a promotional album of some kind.  Allmusic gives this album 4 stars and says this about their incongruous beginnings and fan base:  “Formed in San Francisco in 1982 at the peak of the city’s hardcore punk movement, Looters were embraced by the local punk rock scene even though the style of music the multi-racial, multi-ethnic band played couldn’t have had its roots further from Gilmore Street.  The Dead Kennedys’ Jello Biafra was an early fan of the band, however, which led to the release of a self-titled EP on his Alternative Tentacles label.  As legend would have it, Island Records head honcho Chris Blackwell heard the disc playing in a record store during a trip to the Bay area and subsequently signed the band to Island.”  This is their debut album on Island but actually their second album (Jericho Down came out in 1984).  The album has a host of influences and is rife with a compelling world-music vibe.  The opening track, “War Drums” naturally is drum-based but also has fine harmony vocals.  But the killer track for me is “Manzanar”, with its recurring call of “how far . . . is Manzanar”.  From Wikipedia:  “Manzanar is the site of one of ten American concentration camps, where more than 120,000 Japanese Americans were incarcerated during World War II from March 1942 to November 1945.” 
(December 2015)
* * *
Since I am down to a quarterly schedule rather than a monthly schedule, my annual list is a lot shorter, so I will try listing all of the people that I have discussed in some depth rather than just the Under Appreciated Rock Band and the Story of the Month. They are all punk rock bands of one kind or another this year (2015-2016), and the most recent post includes my overview of the early rap/hip hop scene that an old friend, George Konstantinow challenged me to write – probably so long ago that he might have forgotten.
(Year 7 Review)
* * *
There are plenty of rock bands out there that do not have a Wikipedia article yet, and I already have the LP or CD in hand.  I alphabetized my CD’s a year or so back, and picking a row almost at random, here are some potential future UARB’s and UARA’sKing Richard and the Knights (a wonderful 1960’s garage rock band from Albuquerque that actually I was pretty sure had a Wikipedia article, though I can’t seem to find it now), Level with the Ground (a local band that came along about the same time as 3 Doors Down – as with Schattenfreiheit though, a German duo who put out a self-published album that is among my all-time favorites, they are too obscure to make the UARB list), Looters (I have written about them before but had not realized they were a potential UARB – an inventive world-music band that, unaccountably, was a favorite of many Bay Area punk rock bands, including Dead Kennedys), the Love Drunks (an Alive Records punk rock band, with quite affected vocal stylings), and Martin (how could I resist that one?  His full name is Martin Kember).  That is actually a pretty good list of potential UARB’s and UARA’s; I will have to do this more often! 
(Year 8 Review)
Last edited: March 22, 2021