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Fall 1980 - Riding the wave of follow-up smash single Holiday in Cambodia , Dead Kennedys release debut album Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables . They are the first non-major label U.S. punk band to successfully tour England and Europe. Many people Biafra meet are rabidly curious about what else lurks musically in the United States. The "punk is dead" media and the U.K. record labels don't care. Biafra records The Witch Trials improvisational EP with Christian Lunch, Adrian Borland (late of The Sound and other friends in an apartment in London.
Spring 1981 - Alternative Tentacles re-launched with Let Them Eat Jellybeans compilation album, designed to introduce Europe and the world at large to D.O.A., Black Flag, Flipper, Bad Brains, Half Japanese and even Voice Farm, among many more. The European underground is never the same again. Hardcore punk breaks out and spreads throughout the industrialized world.
Also released is the Too Drunk to Fuck single, featuring new drummer D.H. Peligro. The British tabloid press goes ballistic, some store owners are arrested. Industry fears rise that the single will reach the top 30 of the national charts and thus mandate a performance of the song on BBC-TV's "Top of the Pops". It peaks at #31.
...Jellybeans helps create the same effect in the United States. Black Flag and D.O.A. stitch together national tours, while the biggest splash is the east coast return of Dead Kennedys. Jaded New York music press dismisses DK's all ages matinee at Bond's as a "cheap gimmick." Several generations of artists later report that being at that show was the baptism that made them want to start a band. New York and the East Coast are never the same.
Fall 1981 - Dead Kennedys release In God We Trust, Inc. EP and Nazi Punks Fuck Off single. The music is faster and more extreme, reflecting the youthful hardcore energy coming out of California and Washington, D.C. Lyrics and packaging are gut-rage responses to the rise of the religious right, violence in the underground scene and the "election" of Ronald Reagan. Almost every "dire exaggeration" in the lyrics has since come true.
More touring in Britain and Europe follows, with particularly wild shows in Italy and Finland. D.I.Y. hardcore EPs mushroom in these countries a few months later.
Spring-Summer 1982 - U.S. hardcore explosion in full swing. Legwork by Black Flag, Dead Kennedys, D.O.A. and Minor Threat establishes solid nationwide touring network through D.I.Y. underground promoters who completely avoid the still hostile music establishment. Harassment by police was an increasing problem. Denver cops try to confiscate the band's equipment, but give up when asked to carry the amps themselves.
Alternative Tentacles continues to grow and penetrate with classic releases by D.O.A., T.S.O.L., 7 Seconds; and in the U.K., Bad Brains and Husker Du.
Fall, 1982 - Dead Kennedys release second full- length, Plastic Surgery Disasters to decidedly mixed reviews. For the third time in a row fans are confronted with different sounds than they expected. Another Euro-visit follows, this time concentrating on Germany.
1983 - Places to go, people to annoy. U.S. touring for Plastic Surgery Disasters culminates in Rock Against Reagan on the capitol mall in D.C. one day before the infamous 4th of July James Watt concert (Beach Boys cancelled in favor of Wayne Newton). Under clear skies a U.S. government helicopter floodlights DK's audience and photographs them when their faces look up. Torrential rains the next day delay Wayne Newton concert for several hours. Dead Kennedys also crack open Australia, finding a much more diverse scene than narrow-minded macho U.S. hardcore audiences will allow. Most bizarre of all is Adelaide's Grong Grong, whose singer screams at the audience wearing a balaklava and a cowboy hat. Their album is later released on Alternative Tentacles. The Aussies take on Detroit/garage rock is at its peak, and Biafra absorbs their sounds accordingly, being possibly the first person to bring their records into the United States.
1984 - More live mayhem brings Dead Kennedys to guerrilla performances outside both the Democratic and Republican National conventions. Republicans in Dallas are greeted by Biafra-led crowd chanting "Fuck off and die!" as they flee the hall for their hotel rooms. A mass die-in at Nieman-Marcus and the notorious Joey Johnson flag burning case that wound up in the Supreme Court add to the festivities. At the Democratic convention Dead Kennedys take the stage in Klansman hoods, then remove them to reveal Ronald Reagan masks underneath. A thousand people break away from the crowd to march on San Francisco City Hall, where they are beaten senseless by out-of-control police officers.
1985 - Dead Kennedys reaffirm their place at the front of the underground musical vanguard with the release of the Frankenchrist album (possibly Biafra's favorite). Again, not what people expected. A poster insert by Swiss surrealist master H.R. Giger will soon prove very controversial.
1985 - Infamous Senate anti-music hearings are staged by Senator Al Gore and his cohorts as a favor to his wife Tipper and her openly bigoted fundamentalist friends calling themselves the Parent's Music Resource Center (PMRC). Among the PMRC's demands were the censorship through a labeling system of warning stickers, the "Reassessment of contracts" of artists whose lyrics are, "sexually explicit", "anti-Christian" or mention suicide or homosexuality. "Expert witnesses" called by the Washington Wives blame rock music for gang violence, suicide, murder, devil worship and sexual perversion. Frank Zappa was one of the first to oppose the PMRC and sense their significance, as was none other than John Denver(!) and Dee Snider (Twisted Sister). The music industry above and below ground keeps their head in the sand, preferring to sleep through the hearings.