June 5, 2023
RIP Dead Kennedys drummer DH Peligro

RIP Dead Kennedys drummer DH Peligro

DH Peligro in 2003

DH Peligro in 2003
Photo: Giulio Marcocchi (Getty Images)

DH Peligro has passed away. The longtime drummer of influential punk band Dead Kennedys, Peligro – born Darren Henley – played intermittently with the band for over 20 years, co-generating many of their albums (as well as at least some of their ongoing dramas with former leader Jello Biafra). Peligro was also briefly the drummer for his friends in the Red Hot Chili Peppers, a short tenure in 1988. According DeadlinePeligro passed away yesterday, along with the LAPD reporting that he suffered head trauma after a fall. Peligro was 63 years old.

Born in Saint-Louis, Peligro was, by his own accountliving in a van in San Francisco, immersing himself in the punk scene, when he meets Biafra and Dead Kennedys guitarist East Bay Ray at the start 80 years. (In an interview in 2015he talked about jumping a Greyhound in San Francisco at age 17 with nothing more than his battery and a single bolognese sandwich in his name.) When original drummer Bruce “Ted” Slesinger left the band in 1981, Peligro was one of more than a dozen drummers to audition; Clicking easily with Biafra, Ray and bassist Klaus Flouride, Peligro signed with the band shortly before the release of their 1981 EP. In God We Trust, Inc.which marked a shift towards harder and faster punk rock, powered at least in part by Peligro’s drumming.

Too drunk to fuck

Over the next five years, Dead Kennedys would gain international notoriety, releasing three more albums – and also surviving a high-profile obscenity trial related to the 1982 release frankenchristand more specifically the inclusion of an HR Giger paint, Penis Landscape, on poster with the album. The end came in 1986, when, according to Peligro, East Bay Ray announced he was leaving the band. After a brief conversation about the possibility of finding a new guitarist, the band members decided to part ways instead, with Peligro moving to Los Angeles.

Over the next few years Peligro would play with a number of bands and create his own, also called Peligro. (He also, while in musical oblivion, developed an addictiontion to heroin with which he would struggle for the rest of his life.) One of his most publicized concerts took place ’88, when he was brought by his longtime friends into the Chili Peppers to replace founding drummer Jack Irons, who left the band after the death of his high school friend Hillel Slovak from a heroin overdose. Although Peligro would have co-written some of the songs that would end up on the band’s fourth album, Breastmilkhe was only with the Peppers for a short time before being fired, apparently due to his own substance abuse issues. (“I was the one fucking the fuck up,” he said in 2015, sadly admitting that if he had stayed with the band during their rise, it probably would have killed him.)

In the late 1990s, Peligro and the other members of the Dead Kennedys discovered that they were underpaid on royalties from Biafran label Alternative Tentacles. In response, Peligro, Klaus and Ray reunited with a series of new vocalists beginning in 2001, with Biafra frequently taking potshots on the band for what he saw as a back-and-forth over the band’s name and image. Regardless of these accusations – and bolstered by a successful court case, which the members of the Kennedys won, including obtaining the rights to most of the the back catalog of the groupthey continued to tour together until this year.

In his later years, Peligro has spoken candidly about his struggles with addiction, both in interviews and in his memory Dreadnaught: the king of Afropunknoting that he had had a relapse as recently as 2015. (His account of the ways in which constant exposure to racism while tour like a Black man in the punk scene ‘80s contributed to his struggles with addiction was one of the most poignant moments in Dave Grohl’s recent documentary What motivates us.) But danger continued to act, write and even star in a few shorts nonethelesscreating art until his death this week.

#RIP #Dead #Kennedys #drummer #Peligro

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