Dead Kennedys Lose Vocalist, Gain A Replacement Almost Instantly

BY Cam LindsayPublished Mar 25, 2008

Does anyone still care about the Dead Kennedys when Jello Biafra hasn't actually been a member for 22 years? Well, for those out there who like their DK sans J-E-L-L-O, it appears Biafra isn't the only vocalist who can't see eye to eye with Easy Bay Ray and Klaus Floride.

Following Brandon Cruz's 2003 departure as the band's lyrical ranter, most recent Jello-imitator Ron Penalty left the band on Thursday (March 20) over terms he describes as "not amicable." Penalty explained the situation:

It’s likely that, if asked, the band will attribute my departure to scheduling conflicts brought about by my documentary work, but in reality it’s a tediously long story involving personality conflicts, creative differences, arguments about splitting money equally, arguments about how the band should be run, arguments about the wisdom of hiring a band manager whose other star client was a Christian folk artist, arguments about whether we should or shouldn’t go on MTV, and arguments about many other wretched things.

I thought about quitting numerous times over the past year, but I officially did so on Thanksgiving when I found out that the band had been recruiting a new singer behind my back and had even played a secret show with one at a bar in my neighborhood.

It’s a sad turn of events for me because I was really proud of what we were able to accomplish with Dead Kennedys. Despite all the criticism, we took more of a principled stand on certain things than most people will ever know and we brought great music and a great message to a lot of audiences. I was glad that we ruffled a few feathers in the punk scene and I was amazed at the ability of their music and our performances to transcend scene politics and convert scores of non-believers. I will always think of it as an important and timely reunion both for the punk scene and for the world at large, and as a defining period of my life. So it’s upsetting for me personally to see that Ray and Klaus have finally become what they’ve always been accused of. It wasn’t always like this.

My sincere thanks, and apologies, go out to the fans that supported my participation in the band. And Jello, you’ve been wrong about a lot of stuff, but you were certainly right about not trusting those guys...

A spokesperson for the Dead Kennedys made a statement concerning Penalty's departure, simply saying: "The bands previous singer, Jeff Penalty, has been unavailable because of numerous other projects he is working on, and the scheduling conflicts became impossible to work around. Jeff also expressed that he was not interested in working on new material, something the other band members were keen on exploring."

If you're still reading at this point, you're likely with the DK until the bitter, bitter end, which means you're also likely interested in knowing that almost immediately after Penalty's departure Ron "Skip" Greer (of long-forgotten Lookout! band the Wynona Riders) has become the successor, filling the position of "touring vocalist." "Touring vocalist" - now there's a job that just screams stability.

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