263. The Dead Kennedys

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263. The Dead Kennedys

Top 5 Albums from Last.FM

  • Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables

  • Give Me Convenience or Give Me Death

  • Bedtime for Democracy

  • Plastic Surgery Disasters

  • Frankenchrist

Much of the work of the Dead Kennedys showed off the best that Punk music had to offer. With the political anger of British Punk stars and the fiery rapid approach of American Punk performers, the Dead Kennedys may not have broken down that many doors in the Punk Rock genre but among the Punk bands of the early 80’s, the Dead Kennedys had few peers, and those who loved the genre revered them.



The Bullet Points: 

Eligible Since:



Country of Origin:

U.S.A. (San Francisco, CA)


Nominated In:



NIHOF’s Favorite Album:

Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables (1980)


NIHOF’s Favorite Song:

Too Drunk to Fuck (Single, 1981)

Should The Dead Kennedys be in the Hall of Fame?

Definitely put them in! - 71%
Maybe, but others deserve it first. - 6.5%
Probably not, but it wouldn't be the end of the world. - 22.6%
No opinion. - 0%
No way! - 0%
Last modified on Friday, 15 September 2017 14:54
Tagged under
More in this category: « 262. Pere Ubu 264. Them »


+3 #3 Esol Esek 2014-03-17 09:04
Hands down most important punk band in US history, defining the genre in a radically specific and horrifyingly American way. The way people reacted to the Pistols in the UK, they reacted to the DKs in the USA. You could get beat up for liking this band.

Beyond all that, their first record Fresh Fruit is a masterpiece, replete with scary artwork that blasted out of the record shelves. I had never heard a singer call out a sitting US governor and then president on record in my life before the DKs. Had they followed that debut record up with something at the same pace and accessibility, they might've had to be chased out of the business, they may have become so popular.

However, to my taste, they unfortunately turned into a speedcore band, and musical rifts emerged, and that was not my style, although We've Got a Bigger Problem Now was another watershed event, with clear beautiful production, a juxtaposition of lounge jazz and hardcore punk rock, and a cover that defined the underground art of the time. What more can a band do, and they are AMERICAN?!

The HOF is illegitimate until they are inducted. The problem with waiting 25 is that people forget just how impactful and scary certain bands were.
+3 #2 Darryl Tahirali -0001-11-30 00:00
LOL @Jimmy26: I don't know that I would brag about that, man! Being too drunk to do the deed wouldn't necessarily endear you to the ladies, would it?It is a hilarious song, though, and Dead Kennedys were one of the great American underground bands of the 1980s, one of the few to champion an overtly political stance in parallel with the Brit bands of the time (Clash, Stiff Little Fingers, et al). DKs did have an influence on subsequent acts later labeled "alternati ve," and singer Jello Biafra is one of the celebrated political guerillas in rock history.The problem is that I don't think the Kennedys are simply that good a band, and their influence is not that widespread to have had a significant impact. Not at the Hall of Fame level. As I write this, I am actually wearing a Dead Kennedys T-shirt (yes, really!), and I certainly think this is a band that doesn't deserve to be forgotten. But is it at the top level of rock 'n' roll? Not hardly.Look, the Kennedys concern under Biafra is an admirable one. Biafra himself was a mayoral candidate in San Francisco in 1979 and a Green Party presidential candidate in 2000. The Kennedys formed their own recording label, Alternative Tentacles, that also released material by other underground acts from the Butthole Surfers to D.O.A. to the Melvins, as well as spoken-word albums by alternative political luminaries Noam Chomsky, Mumia Abu-Jamal, and Howard Zinn, not to mention Biafra himself, who is an estimable speaker. Moreover, the Kennedys took the heat during a censorship trial concerning an H.R. Giger poster included in the Kennedys' 1984 Frankenchrist album. The trial resulted in a hung jury [a droll pun considering that the poster was entitled "Penis Landscape" ], but fighting the charges nearly broke the label and effectively sundered the band. (Biafra details the trial in his spoken-word album The High Priest of Harmful Matter.)The obscenity trial underscores the reality of the DKs and Alternative Tentacles: They were small enough for the authorities to pick on with confidence. The little guy fought back, but at the cost of his career. And if this is news to anyone reading this
+3 #1 jimmy26 -0001-11-30 00:00
In the early 80's before the terms alternative and grunge came along we called that kind of music underground. Never knew why. Mayb it was because most of it was played it in underground pubs. But the kings of underground music were without question the Dead kennedys. If we are talking influence then these guys deserve to get in on the first ballot. There would be no Seattle sound without this group and probably no Green Day as well and as much as everyone wants to jump on the Melvins and Pixies bandwagon these guys were way before them and their impact was much larger. And Btw TDTF was my nickname in college. What a great song.

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