V Vale comments on the "dead kennedys"

topic posted Wed, July 5, 2006 - 9:39 PM by  Randy
When we first heard that the Mutants were going to play the Fillmore, we were faintly puzzled, but it seemed okay. Next we heard the Avengers and Flipper were playing, and that seemed incredible. Then we heard that the "Dead Kennedys" were to headline. Well, to us, without lead singer/founder/activist guru Jello Biafra, who's still alive, they're the "Fake Kennedys." But who are we to be party-poopers; people from all over the USA are reportedly flying in for this event. So we hereby announce that the "Fake Kennedys" headline some kind of "Punk Rock at the Fillmore" event, April 8. Why are we disgruntled? Because we know too much, and knowledge can definitely pre-empt "happiness." We still have a "conscience." And thus we have extreme issues with Ray, Klaus and Darren who by winning in court with Bill Graham's lawyers (2001?) against Biafra's inferior legal counsel, seized control of Biafra's/DK's songs and, most outrageously, are touring worldwide calling themselves the "Dead Kennedys."

Now, for the record, back in the '70s I only conversed with Biafra, Klaus and Bruce Slesinger, the DK's original drummer--liked him a lot--who quit in 1979. Never had real chats with Ray or the new guy, Darren. And I liked Klaus quite a bit, but he was no verbal firebrand like Jello Biafra.

Our friend Doug who was NOT in the early punk scene declared, "Nobody today would have even heard of the Dead Kennedys if it wasn't for Jello Biafra! He was the heart and the soul of the band. He's the one who did all the interviews. He was the true spokesperson for the band." Through hundreds of interviews, radio and TV appearances, plus a plethora of Spoken Word recordings and recordings with LARD, the MELVINS, et all (not to mention his punk label Alternative Tentacles), Jello Biafra has been tirelessly touring the world since 1978, disseminating his special brand of anti-corporate, anti-imperialist vitriol. Biafra and Henry Rollins and Exene Cervenka are spokespeople extraordinaire for the most progressive ideas and insights as to how this world is spinning into madness and economic/political/ecological disaster.

Also, arguably the "Fake Kennedys" are a kind of fraud, at least to me (so sue me, Ray! I have a RIGHT to express my own opinion in print). Given that John Lydon is still alive, could the rest of the Sex Pistols tour as the Sex Pistols **without** "Johnny Rotten"? Could the sidemen of the Iggy Pop Band tour as the Iggy Pop Band without Iggy? Could the sidemen of the Henry Rollins Band tour without vocalist Henry Rollins? Maybe that's the problem -- the band should have always been titled The Jello Biafra Band. He was the leader. It wasn't a communist or hippie "collective." And to me, the 3 guys were more sidemen (yes, "talented musicians", but aren't they all?!) who mostly deserved "arranging" rather than "song-writing" credit. This wasn't the Beatles. This was more like Johnny Rotten, or Patti Smith, or Iggy Pop. But maybe most people alive today apparently don't know how Jello Biafra's incendiary persona really was the heart and soul behind the Dead Kennedys while they were existing as a live band playing great music.

Another point: just exactly **WHAT** have the 3 sidemen Ray, Klaus and Darren **DONE** since the Dead Kennedys broke up 20 years ago? In fact, the best DKs songs were created BEFORE Darren joined the band, in our opinion. Yes, what provocative songs and recordings have the 3 created since the band broke up? What insurrectionary interviews have they given that inspire and enlighten people? Nada, or very little that we know of. (On the other hand, Biafra has remained continually in the public eye.) For these three, just for the profit/celebrity motive, to "cash in" on something once almost "revolutionary" seems, at best, despicable. But maybe ethics and morals are just plain outdated now...

The saga awaits a future book or movie dealing with "celebrity" and "revolution"...
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