Dead Kennedys drummer and North American punk rock legend DH Peligro has died of a head injury after a fall in his Los Angeles home. He was 63 years old.
On Instagram, his bandmates wrote, “Dead Kennedys drummer DH Peligro (Darren Henley) passed away at his Los Angeles home yesterday, October 28. Police at the scene say he died of complications from head trauma caused by an accidental fall.
Peligro joined the Dead Kennedys after their debut album Fresh Fruit For Rotting Vegetables. He would go on to play on the albums that made the DK’s one of the biggest bands in the first wave North American punk scene, including Plastic surgery disasters and frankenchrist.
Peligro will join East Bay Ray and Klaus Flouride from the band after they started playing together again after a nasty split with singer Jello Biafra.
The Dead Kennedys had deep ties to Vancouver through the group’s friendship with West Coast legends like DOA and the Subhumans. These two Vancouver artists would appear on the infamous Let Them Eat Jellybeans compilation released by Biafran-run label Alternative Tentacles.
Peligro was one of those rare punk drummers who hit hard but also swinged, groove being just as important to him as power. Born in St. Louis, he started playing drums as a child, eventually falling in love with rock bands like Black Sabbath and KISS. After moving to San Francisco, he joined SSI, eventually catching the attention of Biafra who enlisted him after original drummer Bruce Slesinger left in 1981.
Peligro was briefly a member of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, contributing songs that culminated in the band’s 1989 breakthrough. Breastmilk.
In recent years, in addition to touring with the reunited DK sans Biafra, the drummer has collaborated with Moby, played with projects such as the Hellions and the legendary group Roky Erickson Aliens.
He has also released three albums with his own band Peligro.
One of the first African American musicians to break down color barriers in the North American punk scene, he also appeared in the 2003 documentary Afro Punk.
Here’s what his peers are saying about him.