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Dead Kennedys Beat Jello

Judge denies former singer’s appeal

A 2000 ruling against former Dead Kennedy’s frontman Jello Biafra
was unanimously upheld by a California Court of Appeals yesterday.
The three-judge panel found that Biafra still owed bandmates
guitarist East Bay Ray, bassist Klaus Flouride and drummer D.H.
Peligro more than $200,000 in compensatory and punitive damages
because his label, Alternative Tentacles, withheld money from the
band partnership, Decay Music. Biafra’s attempts to dissolve the
partnership and gain sole custody over the Kennedy’s music was also
denied.

“From the beginning of this ordeal, neither Klaus, D.H. nor
myself wanted to go to court to settle something that should have
been handles reasonably between us,” East Bay Ray said. “This
ruling clearly says that Dead Kennedys and Decay Music are a full
partnership. Biafra, regrettably, is left as the only one who
thinks otherwise.”

The dispute dates back to 1998, when the band discovered a
$76,000 underpayment from Alternative Tentacles to Decay. Two years
later, when a jury in San Francisco Superior Court ruled against
Biafra, he claimed the band brought their suit against him because
he denied permission to license their song “Holiday in Cambodia” to
Levi’s for a television ad. “They’re punishing me for sticking to
the principles of the band and underground, independent culture,”
Biafra said at the time.

“We wanted Biafra to recognize our vote in how we wanted our
music released,” Flouride said. “No one seemed to understand that
by Dead Kennedys and Decay Music controlling our own catalog, Jello
still gets 100% of his record royalties and his music publishing,
which is exactly what he is entitled to. We just wanted an equal
say in all matters that pertained to the band.”

After the initial ruling, the remaining three DKs had their back
catalog reissued on Manifesto Records. A DVD, Dead Kennedys, In
God We Trust, Inc.: The Lost Tapes
, will be released next
month, and a new live album from 1979 will be released in
late-2003/early-2004.

The DKs formed in 1978 in San Francisco’s punk scene, and the
band’s independent ethic and left-wing political leanings helped
pave the way for the Eighties hardcore scene. The four-piece
splintered after the release of 1986’s Bedtime for
Democracy
.

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