Jello Biafra
By: Jason Grote | Categories: HiLo Heroes

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It’s never been easy to like Eric Reed Boucher, better known as JELLO BIAFRA (born 1958). In my New Jersey high school, the mainstream kids were offended the very idea of the Dead Kennedys, while the hardcore purists found them old hat. Jello himself — with his screeching voice, hatred of nostalgia, and holier-than-thou left politics — still seems like he’s defying you to embrace him. But embrace him I do: he saved my life. I vividly remember unfolding the cassette liner notes for Frankenchrist (1985) and learning I was not alone in my Reagan-era anger and despair. With lyrics like “Let kids learn communication/Instead of schools pushing competition/How about more art and theater instead of sports?… No one will do it for us/We’ll just have to fix ourselves/Honesty ain’t all that hard,” Jello knocked the scales from my teenaged eyes.

PUNK, POST-PUNK & ALTERNATIVE on HILOBROW: Joey Ramone | Dez Cadena | Jello Biafra | HR | Mike Watt | Vivienne Westwood | Iggy Pop | D. Boon | John Lydon | Henry Rollins | Palmolive | Plastic Bertrand | Kira Roessler | Lisa Carver | Frank Black | Ari Up | Gary Panter | Paul Simonon | Darby Crash | Penelope Houston | Exene Cervenka | Sid Vicious | Andrew Eldritch | Kate Pierson | Paul Westerberg | Lux Interior | Ian Dury | Stiv Bators | Tom Verlaine | Colin Newman | Johnny Thunders | Poison Ivy | Green Gartside | Lydia Lunch | Mark E. Smith | David Byrne | Debbie Harry | Captain Sensible | Mark Mothersbaugh | Kim Gordon | ALSO: The Original Generation X (1954–63) and the birth of DIY | The Original Stooge | Origin of the Pogo | Shocking Blocking: Rock’n’Roll High School | Punk fanzines from the 1970s | Post-Punk and New Wave on HiLobrow

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On his or her birthday, HiLobrow irregularly pays tribute to one of our high-, low-, no-, or hilobrow heroes. Also born this date: | Wally Wood |

READ MORE about members of the Original Generation X (1954–63).

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Jason Grote is a playwright, television writer, and librettist. His best-known play is 1001, a deconstruction of the tales of the Arabian Nights. He wrote for season one of Smash, and is currently a writer for Mad Men.