Former Dead Kennedys singer Jello Biafra has dropped his remaining lawsuit against his ex-bandmates. Thus stands a June 2003 California Appeals Court decision ordering Biafra and his label, Alternative Tentacles, to pay back royalties and other damages to East Bay Ray, Klaus Flouride and D.H. Peligro.
In that case, the court upheld a May 2000 San Francisco Superior Court jury’s conviction of Biafra and the label for breach of contract and fraud in their dealings with the remaining members of the trailblazing San Francisco-based punk act. More than $200,000 was awarded.
But the Appeals Court reversed the lower court’s decision to break up Decay Music, the partnership of the four Dead Kennedys members, remanding the case back to the trial court to decide if its dissolution and the sale of its assets was necessary.
As Biafra has dropped his remaining challenge, the partnership remains intact.
“Personally and professionally, I just want to put this entire chapter behind us and concentrate on making music again,” bassist Flouride says in a statement. “The band is finally free of being hounded by our former record label for just trying to make things fair,” drummer Peligro says. “It’s time to move on.”
A call to Alternative Tentacles offices for comment was not returned by deadline.
A revolutionary hardcore punk band founded in 1978, the Dead Kennedys split in 1986. Biafra established a solo career that has leaned heavily on spoken word. Several years ago, the band reunited without its politically charged frontman and continues to perform as the Dead Kennedys.
Throughout the case, Biafra maintained his innocence, occasionally posting updates on the label’s Web site and soliciting donations from fans to fund the fight.
He has contended that the legal entanglements began when he opposed the use of one of the band’s most notorious songs, “Holiday in Cambodia,” in a Levi’s commercial.
The statement from East Bay Ray, Flouride and Peligro asserts that claim to be false, along with assertions by Alternative Tentacles that the band wanted to sign with a major label and was trying to destroy Biafra’s label.
With control of the band’s assets returned to Decay Music, the trio remastered and re-released its back catalog in the wake of the original court victory. The group has also issued a compilation and live album through Manifesto Records and several DVDs.
In a March message on the Alternative Tentacles site, Biafra derides each of the releases, and apologizes to fans, claiming he had no input into the projects and his suggestions were ignored.
“Many people doubted the claims we made against our former record label back in 1998,” East Bay Ray says. “But with this announcement there is no denying we were the victims here. Now maybe it’s time for Klaus, D.H., Biafra, and myself to move on with our lives — more music and less lawyers!”
“The real winners in this case were the lawyers and that is something we hoped would never happen,” Flouride adds. “I don’t know if it is possible but I hope that everyone can now bury the hatchet.”