Jello Biafra Biography

Jello Biafra was born as Eric Boucher in Boulder, Colorado, and his dad was a social worker, and his mom was (and still is?) a librarian. Even early on, one could tell that Biafra was not going to be a normal kid. As he said later, “I used to come home from school and watch cartoon shows, and then the 6 O’Clock News would come on. I saw very little difference between the two, so I watched both with equal fascination. My early favorite cartoon characters were…oh, I liked George of the Jungle, Sen. Everett Dirksen and a few others, I mixed and matched.”

His was influenced by politics upon such occasions, and his parents would help and explain to him what was happening at the time, and why there were race riots. When he was eight, his dad drove him through the slums of Detroit, and a week later riots happened. His dad wanted to show him why people were angry. He had seen the Berlin Wall go up on television, and he also saw Oswald get shot live on television as well. He also recalls his father taking him to a park and explaining the Cuban missile crisis to him. He was a loud mouthed kid as well, and even in only sixth grade, he would argue with his right wing teacher. No wonder he turned out like he did.

He eventually went to Santa Cruz for two and a half months to go to school, then went back to Boulder. He saved some money, and then went out to San Fransisco, where he took acting classes by day and went into punk by night, and soon answered an ad that was put up by East Bay Ray, which of course led to the Dead Kennedys.

In 1979 he formed the label Alternative Tentacles, which was used to publish all of the Dead Kennedys albums from then on, and was later used to put out other bands as well. Also in 1979, Biafra led a campaign and ran for mayor of San Francisco, and one of the most remembered platforms was that all business men would be forced to wear clown suits between the hours of nine and five.

When Frankenchrist was released in 1985, included with it was a replica poster of H.R. Giger’s “Penis Landscape”. This caught the attention of some right wingers, and soon the police were raiding Biafra’s apartment, and soon Biafra went to court on charges of “Distributing Harmful Matter to Minors”. Biafra chose to fight the charges, citing his first ammendment rights, instead of paying $2,000 and facing a year in prison.

After a long, drawn-out trial, where Biafra was eventually acquitted, the band broke up, and Biafra went on to other projects. He soon went to spoken word, published on Alternative Tentacles, and collaborated with D.O.A., NoMeansNo, Mojo Nixon for a country album, and most recently joined former members of Ministry to start a new band, Lard. At least Biafra will never fall to the side as he fears, either by touring until he’s eighty singing “Holiday in Cambodia”, or by becoming a mainstream musician, or for that matter, a mainstream politician. “People rely on artists for the truth far more than they rely on politicians,” he says, and that is indeed the case in today’s world.

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