Two Tuesday Quotes: Jello and Janis

Where’s the common cause
Too many factions
Safely sulk in their shells
Agree with us on everything
Or we won’t help with anythng
That kind of attitude
Just makes a split grow wider
Guess who’s laughing while the world explodes
When we’re all crybabies
Who fight best among ouselves

Jello Biafra (Dead Kennedy’s) – Chickenshit Conformist

I missed being a typical child. I never lead a normal life. I kinda resented the fact I was tied up in this. I think if I had contributed as much time to tryin’ to be a success as I did tryin’ to aggrivate everybody and pull away from it that maybe the story would have turned out different. I fought it all the way. I just wanted to settle down and be normal, ’cause I had not been since I was eight years old.  – Janis Martin (from an interview with Greg Milewski)

Jello Biafra:

Biafra has been a prominent figure of the Californian punk scene and was one of the founding members of the San Francisco hardcore punk community. Many later hardcore bands have cited the Dead Kennedys as a major influence. Hardcore punk author Steven Blush describes Biafra as hardcore’s “biggest star” who was a “powerful presence whose political insurgence and rabid fandom made him the father figure of a burgeoning subculture [and an] inspirational force [who] could also be a real prick… Biafra was a visionary, incendiary [performer].” (Source)

Born Eric Boucher in Boulder, Colorado, he left town after high school. First, he did what many youth do—he formed a band. He became the leader and vocalist of Dead Kennedys, a pioneering punk rock band featuring smart, political lyrics with furious music.

After first calling himself Occupant, Jello Biafra picked his name at random out of a notebook. Years later, he said he chose it because he “likes the way the two images collide in people’s minds.”

Jello’s controversial spirit raged on as he turned toward social commentary, and ran for mayor of San Francisco in 1979. While he did not win, he became a magnet for the vote of those dissatisfied with the leading candidates. During his campaign he never lost his sense of humor, wearing T-shirts from an opponent’s previous campaign, and vacuuming leaves off another opponent’s front lawn. With 6,591votes, he finished fourth out of ten candidates, with 3.5% of the total vote.

Biafra ranks as the first musician to be put on trial, because of the content of a record album (in 1985, three years before 2 Live Crew). The Frankenchrist album released with his group, Dead Kennedys, contained in its original release a reproduction of a painting by Swiss artist H.R. Geiger. Obscenity charges followed, under the urging of Tipper Gore and the Parent’s Music Resource Center, after a woman spotted the record in her daughter’s collection.

It was because of this painting that Jello’s house in San Francisco was raided and torn apart by a squad of Los Angeles and San Francisco police officers. Former L.A. deputy city attorney Michael Guarino, regrets the episode. Stating, “about midway through the trial we realized that the lyrics of the album were in many ways socially responsible, very anti-drug and pro-individual.” (Source)

Janis Martin:

At age 11, she began her career as a member of the WDVA Barndance in Danville, Virginia. This same show launched the careers of the famous Louvin Brothers, Charlie and Ira. From the barndance, she traveled with Glen Thompson’s band for two years and then went on the road with Jim Eanes, a former Starday recording artist. In 1953, she appeared at a Tobacco Festival with Ernest Tubb and Sunshine Sue. As a result of this appearance, Janis was invited to become a regular member of the Old Dominion Barndance in Richmond, Virginia. At that time, this stageshow was the third largest in the nation, ranking only behind the Grand Old Opry and The Wheeling, West Virginia Barndance. Such stars as Jean Shepherd, Hawkshaw Hawkins, Sonny James, Martha Carson, the renowned Carter Sisters and others appeared on this show and encouraged Janis to try for the “big time”. Two years of travels with this show gave her the experience in show business that she would need later in life. She was noted for her dynamic stage appearance and was happiest while on stage, whether in a theater or tent show, Janis lived for one thing – entertaining people. Two staff announcers at WRVA (the station that carried the barndance over the CBS network) were successful songwriters. They wrote the hit “Little Things Mean A Lot”.

Janis was voted the ‘Most Promising Female Artist of 1956″ at the annual disc jockey convention and received the Billboard Magazine award on plaque. With much success behind her, she formed her own band called the “Marteens” and began her travels in the U.S. and Canada, playing clubs and fairs. She made a screen test for MGM, but Janis had married her childhood sweetheart at the age of 15 and in 1958 she gave birth to a son and temporarily laid her career aside, although she continued recording and appearances into 1959. When her son was two years old, she signed with Palette Records and recorded four sides with them, but her marriage and family interfered with her career to the point that she decided to retire and just be a wife and mother. Since 1960, she has kept in “musical shape” by making appearances on a local basis. A while she formed another band and began statewide appearances. (Source)

When Ms. Martin secretly married and became pregnant, her record label dropped her, and she returned to a life of relative obscurity in southern Virginia. Except for a few local appearances, she was all but forgotten until 1982, when she emerged from retirement with a concert in England.

She was called “the female Elvis” with the approval of Elvis Presley, her RCA label mate, and sang one of her minor hits, “My Boy Elvis” on NBC’s “Today” show. She also appeared on “The Tonight Show” and “American Bandstand” and at the Grand Ole Opry. (Source)


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