Former Dead Kennedys singer Jello Biafra has dropped all legal action against his former bandmates, according to the remaining three original members, ending a six-year exchange of lawsuits between the two camps.
“Personally and professionally, I just want to put this entire chapter behind us and concentrate on making music again,” said Dead Kennedys bassist Klaus Flouride in a statement. “The real winners in this case were the lawyers and that is something we hoped would never happen. I don’t know if it is possible but I hope that everyone can now bury the hatchet.”
Informed of the band’s announcement, Biafra said only, “No comment.”
The dispute dates back to 1998, when the band discovered a $76,000 underpayment from Biafra’s Alternative Tentacles label to the band partnership, Decay Music. Two years later, a jury in San Francisco Superior Court ruled against Biafra and awarded Fluoride, guitarist East Bay Ray and drummer D.H. Peligro $200,000 in compensatory and punitive damages and denied Biafra’s attempt to dissolve the partnership and gain sole possession of the Dead Kennedys’ music. Biafra 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.
Biafra appealed the ruling, but a California Court of Appeals upheld it last year.
Since the initial ruling, Biafra’s former bandmates have reissued the band’s back catalog on Manifesto Records and released a DVD and a live album.
As recently as March, Biafra had been critical of the releases, calling the live album Live at the Deaf Club “embarrassing” in a post on the Alternative Tentacles’ Web site and insisting that he’d been given no input into the new releases. He was also adamant that the lawsuits would continue. “I maintain my innocence, and am sickened by what they have done to exploit Dead Kennedys’ once-good name and legacy since,” Biafra wrote. “Let’s just say it is far from over, uglier than ever, with no end in sight.”