Welcome to the unofficial fan site of Jello Biafra. He first gained attention as the lead singer and songwriter for San Francisco punk
rock band the Dead Kennedys. After his time with the band concluded, he became a political activist and took over the influential record label, Alternative
Tentacles, which was founded by him and East Bay Ray. He continued as a musician in numerous collaborations and as a spoken word artist. Politically, he is
a member of the Green Party and actively supports progressive political causes. He is a self-proclaimed anarchist who advocates civil disobedience and
pranksterism in the name of political change. Biafra is known to use absurdist media tactics in the tradition of the Yippies to highlight issues of civil
rights, social justice, and anti-corporatism.
His stage name is a combination of the brand name Jell-O and the name of the short lived country of Biafra which attempted to secede from Nigeria in 1966. After four years of fighting and horrific starvation in Biafra, Nigeria regained control of the nascent Biafran state. Jello Biafra created his name as an ironic combination of a nutritionally poor mass-produced food product and mass starvation. He said he likes how two ideas clash in people's minds.
1958 - Biafra born and raised in Boulder, CO , six blocks from the JonBenet Ramsey murder site. So far, he has not been named as a suspect.
November 1963 - JFK assassinated on a day Biafra remembers well. Biafra sees Oswald get shot live on the living room TV. (See last track, Beyond the Valley of the Gift Police)
Fall 1965 - Biafra hears rock and roll for the first time when his parents tune in a rock station by mistake. He is immediately hooked, and knows what he wants to be when he grows up.
1966 - Biafra encounters his first rock star. Bob Demmon, leader of the surf-garage legends The Astronauts , shows the second grade class his Alaskan malamute dog.(Bob's mother worked in the school office)
1966-68 - Biafra idolizes Batman villains while his classmates want to be baseball players, nurses and policemen.
1969-72 - The Vietnam war, Chicago 7 trial, Kent State massacre and the Denver smog problem convince Biafra that corrupt, violent governments and corporations should be fought, not trusted.
1970 - Fall of the Republic of Biafra - Ibo people's war for independence is crushed by the Nigerian army. With British and some American help, all Biafran food supplies had been cut off for months. Horrific, jarring images of skeletal Biafran children dying from hunger make "Biafra" the universal symbol of starvation and genocide until the Ethiopian famine 15 years later.
January, 1977 - Biafra sees the Ramones horrify an audience of the pre-yuppies he loathes at Ebbets Field night club in Denver. He decides there must be more to life than listening to Judas Priest and committing suicide. He roadies for the first Colorado punk band, The Ravers, who would later move to New York and become The Nails (of "88 lines About 44 Women" fame).
Fall, 1977 - Biafra enrolls in University of California at Santa Cruz , where he studies acting and history of Paraguay. After seeing very early gigs of The Saints and Wire , among others in London that summer, Biafra discovers that the early San Francisco punk scene (Avengers, Dils, Zeros, etc. ) is far more raw and primal than anything he has seen so far. Its epicenter is Mabuhay Gardens , an all ages venue run by Dirk Dirksen . Biafra leaves school after one quarter.
February 28, 1978 - Biafra returns to San Francisco after saving money doing laundry in a nursing home in Boulder, Colorado.
July 19, 1978 - Dead Kennedys live debut performance after rehearsing for one week. After first calling himself Occupant , Jello Biafra picks his name at random out of a notebook . Years later, he says he chose it because he "likes the way the two images collide in people's minds."
June 1979 - Dead Kennedys release first single, California Uber Alles on their own label, Alternative Tentacles . An east coast tour follows, almost unheard of in those days for a west coast underground band.
Compared to the primal pogo frenzy of the west coast, the scene there is almost comatose, largely due to the lack of all ages venues. Audiences expecting to sit quietly and clap find themselves showered with their own beer as their tables and chairs are knocked away. Max's Kansas City looks like a tornado went through it. At the Rat in Boston, MA, people line up as far away from the band as they can against the back wall but don't leave. This may be Biafra's favorite Dead Kennedys show of all time.
Fall 1979 - Biafra runs for mayor of San Francisco. He finishes fourth out of ten candidates with 6,591 votes, 3 1/2% of the total; helping force a run-off. Mayor Dianne Feinstein's supporters are aghast. (For the full story, see Biafra's third spoken word album, I Blow Minds for a Living.) Biafra also performs nude before 3000 Clash fans and an infuriated Bill Graham. DK never play for Bill Graham Presents again.
California Uber Alles is re-released in England on the hot label-of-the-moment Fast Product (Gang of Four, Mekons, Human League ). By sheer luck a band barely known in their own back yard is an overnight sensation in the U.K.
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