American punk rock band formed in San Francisco, California in 1978. The band became part of the Americanhardcore punk movement of the early 1980s. They gained a large underground fanbase in the international punk music scene.
Their music mixed the more experimental elements of British 1970s punk with the raw energy of the 1980s American hardcore punk scene. Dead Kennedys’ songs mixed deliberately extreme lyrics with satire, sarcasm, and irony of social and political issues of the 1980s.
In the late 1980s, the band was embroiled in an obscenity trial in the United States over the artwork of their album Frankenchrist (1985), which included the explicit titular subject of H.R. Geiger’s Penis Landscape. The band was charged with distribution of harmful matter to minors, but the trial ended with ahung jury.
Dead Kennedys released five studio albums before disbanding in 1986. In 2001, the band reformed without original singer Jello Biafra, who had been in a legal dispute with the other members over royalties.
The band played three performances in October 2010.At one of the concerts, they debuted their first new song since 1986, “You’re Such a Fake”.
Since the dissolution of Dead Kennedys, Biafra has continued to collaborate and record with other artists, including Mojo Nixon, Al Jourgensen of Ministry, and the Melvins, and has become a spoken word performer, covering political topics in particular.