Dead Kennedys Sue Jello Biafra for Underpayment of Royalties, Unjust Enrichment
Dead Kennedys, the influential San
Francisco punk rock band, filed suit today against front man Jello Biafra,
alleging that Biafra failed to fully pay his bandmates and that Biafra
enriched himself at their expense.
We aint gonna work on Biafras farm no more, said
guitarist East Bay Ray, paraphrasing Bob Dylan.
The seven-count suit, Dead Kennedys v. Jello Biafra, charged Biafra with
breach of duty and breach of contract based on Biafras alleged actions
as owner of Alternative Tentacles Records, the label which released Dead
Kennedys albums. Biafra acquired the record label from the band in 1986.
Biafras acting like a large corporate record label. Hes
shortchanging us on royalties and cutting us out of the earnings from
the Dead Kennedys catalog, Ray said. I think thats a
shabby way to treat your band members.
Biafra made promises about how he would administer the Dead Kennedys
catalog and Biafra is also a partner in Decay Music, the Dead Kennedys
business entity, said Dead Kennedys lawyer David M. Given.
As a partner, Biafra has a legal and moral obligation not to take
advantage of the band members, Given explained. Biafra must
pay the band members all their back royalties. And Biafra absolutely cannot
structure the label-artist relationship so as to enrich himself at the
expense of the other band members.
The Dead Kennedys voted September 30th to sever their ties with Alternative
Its ironic because Alternative Tentacles was formed by us
as an alternative to the greedy tentacles of the large corporate labels,
Ray said. Then Biafra took it over and became what he says he hates.
Biafra has violated the spirit of the label.
The suit was filed today in San Francisco Superior Court by the band as
a partnership and by all the individual band members except Biafra.
The Dead Kennedys consist of lead singer Jello Biafra, guitarist East
Bay Ray, bassist Klaus Flouride and drummer D.H. Peligro. The band actively
toured and recorded from 1978 to 1986, creating irreverent and politically
charged punk rock hits such as Holiday in Cambodia and California