On this date in 2000, frontman for Punk/Pop band The Offspring, Dexter Holland, testified on behalf of Jello Biafra, leader of Punk pioneers Dead Kennedys and both a friend of and huge influence on Holland. Biafra was being sued by his former DK bandmates for allegedly mismanaging royalties from their back catalog and failing to promote their music. Many felt the lawsuit was the result of Biafra not allowing the band's song "Holiday in Cambodia" to be used in a commercial for Levi's, though his former bandmates denied it. (Why Levi's thought that song would be great for selling khakis is another story …)
Holland was on hand at the trial to testify that, in his opinion, if a Dead Kennedys song was used in a commercial, it would taint their legacy and credibility.
"The punk-rock movement was supposed to be a very rebellious movement," Holland told the court. "Anything that connects the band to what is considered mainstream goes against what the band stands for."
While Biafra claimed his solo work and spoken word gigs were, in essence, promoting the Dead Kennedys catalog, and that he himself had never been properly compensated in terms of royalties, the jury agreed with his ex-bandmates. Biafra was ordered to pay $200,000 to the other band members. A later appeal was denied.
The "Dead Kennnedys," minus Biafra, began doing "reunion" shows in 2001, originally replacing Biafra with Brandon Cruz, the former child star of ’69-’72 sitcom The Courtship of Eddie's Father. Biafra responded in song, collaborating with The Melvins on the track "Those Dumb Punk Kids (Will Buy Anything)."
Born This Day: Musical movers and shakers sharing a May 15 birthday include union organizer and Folk singer/poet Utah Phillips (1935);’80s/early ’90s Country star K.T. Oslin (1942); Prog-to-Classical-to-Electronica-to-New-Age instrumentalist Mike Oldfield (1953); leader of Goth Rock stars The Sisters of Mercy, Andrew Eldritch (1959); Rap music pioneer Gradmaster Melle Mel (1961); founder of shocking Grindcore favorites Anal Cunt, Seth Putnam (1968); and musician/composer/producer Brian Eno (1948).
From his early ’70s time with Roxy Music and his thrilling solo works that came after he quit the band in ’73 through his endlessly adventurous solo and collaborative works since and his revolutionary production jobs, most notably with Talking Heads and U2, Brian Eno is one of the most important figures in contemporary music in terms of influence. Today's Modern Rock, Indie, Dance music and Electronica landscape is filled with artists who might sound differently were it not for Eno's work. Although known as the godfather of Ambient music, Eno's influence goes beyond that. Eno's legacy is more about sound, mood and feel.
AllMusic says that Eno "forever altered the ways in which music is approached, composed, performed, and perceived, and everything from punk to techno to new age bears his unmistakable influence."
In 1996, Eno literally became a part of a lot of people's everyday lives when he composed the six-second start-up sound for Microsoft's Windows 95 OS. Meaning every time your PC crashed (I've used a Mac forever, but from what I understand, that was/is a lot), you heard a little Eno. (Ever the rascally rascal, Eno told BBC radio he created the sound on a Mac because he doesn't like PCs.)
And, yes, people still need Brian Eno, now that he's 64. Eno has never stopped releasing or producing new music in some form. Last year, he released Drums Between the Bells on the Warp label. (Pitchfork — which has numerous Eno releases on their "Best of the Decades" overviews, in multiple decades — described Eno signing to Warp as like being The Beatles joining the Elephant 6 collective). The album was a collaboration with poet Rick Holland.
And this past Sunday, Eno won his first BAFTA award from the British Academy of Film and Television Arts for his soundtrack work (something else for which he's very well known) on the BBC Channel 4 mini-series Top Boy.
Below is a playlist featuring several of Eno's Ambient works, plus a clip from his earlier, ingenious "Art Pop" days.