Dead Kennedys Drummer Dies in Accidental Fall

"I feel like I’ve been hit by a train,' Jello Biafra says of DH Peligro's death
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 31, 2022 12:38 PM CDT

DH Peligro, longtime drummer for seminal California punk band the Dead Kennedys, has died at age 63. He died Friday at his Los Angeles home, and police at the scene "stated that he died from trauma to the head caused by an accidental fall," the band said in an Instagram post, per CNN. Peligro—which means "danger" in Spanish—was the stage name of Darren Henley, who grew up in Missouri and moved to San Francisco as a teenager, Pitchfork reports. He played with bands including SSI before joining the Dead Kennedys in 1981. In a 2004 interview, he said the acceptance he found in the music scene in San Francisco was a big change from the racism he had experienced as a Black rock musician in St. Louis.

"It was actually quite exciting, when I think about that time. Because people were accepted. It was my first introduction to gay people and different-colored hair and mohawks and people just living free," he said. "Like everyday was Halloween!" After the Dead Kennedys broke up in 1986, Peligro briefly joined the Red Hot Chili Peppers in 1988. He was fired after just two months due to his substance abuse issues at the time, but he co-wrote three songs that appeared on the band's 1989 album Mother's Milk, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Peligro returned as drummer when the Dead Kennedys reformed in 2001, without lead singer Jello Biafra. The band finished a European tour three days before his death.

Peligro was also frontman of his own band—Peligro—which released three albums between 1995 and 2004. "I feel like I’ve been hit by a train," Biafra said in a statement. "He was not just our powerful unforgettable drummer. He was a gifted singer, songwriter, guitarist, and so much more.” Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea was among the many other musicians paying tribute. "I'm devastated today, a river of tears, but all my life I will treasure every second," Flea said in an Instagram post. "The first time I saw you play with the DK’s in ’81 you blew my mind. The power, the soul, the recklessness." (Read more obituary stories.)

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