Former Dead Kennedys frontman JELLO BIAFRA has been ordered to pay almost a quarter of a million dollars to his former bandmates on after a court in SAN FRANCISCO found that he had underpaid royalties to them.
A judge ruled on Friday (May 19) that Biafra (real name Eric Boucher) and his record company Alternative Tentacles had failed to pay East Bay Ray, Klaus Flouride and D.H. Peligro a percentage of royalties due for a number of hits including ‘Holiday in Cambodia’ and ‘California Uber Alles’. It was also found that he had failed to properly promote the band’s back catalogue. He was ordered to pay his former colleagues $220,000.
During the three-week hearing, Biafra argued that the band were angry because he refused to licence ‘Holiday In Cambodia’ for use in a Levi‘s jeans commercial. He also claimed that the rights of Dead Kennedy‘s songs were held by whoever wrote the track. The jury found that they instead rested with the band’s business partnership Decay Music.
The singer was left shocked by the verdict.
“It’s the ugliest thing I’ve ever had done to me in my entire life,” he told the San Francisco Chronicle. “What they’re basically doing is punishing me for sticking to the principles of the band and underground and independent culture.”
During the three-week hearing at San Francisco Superior Courthouse, Biafra had claimed that his high-profile solo work served to promote the Dead Kennedys catalogue.
Witnesses, including The Offspring frontman Dexter Holland, were also brought in to testify that record companies generally do not promote the back catalogue of defunct bands.
Other band members claimed there had been no need for the matter to end up in court. Klaus Flouride (Geoffrey Lyall) said: “We weren’t out to defeat Biafra at all. It’s stupid that it had to get this far, that it had to be settled here… We tried our darndest to settle it,” while East Bay Ray (Ray Pepperell) added: “He just needed to talk to us.”
Biafra is considering an appeal.