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)
- 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
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
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."
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
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
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