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Jello Biafra Excluded From Crucial Business Meeting, Lawyer Says

Former Dead Kennedys singer is being sued by ex-bandmates for allegedly mismanaging royalties.

SAN FRANCISCO — On the second day of a trial pitting ex–Dead Kennedys frontman Jello Biafra against his former bandmates, the singer's lawyer accused guitarist East Bay Ray of excluding Biafra from a crucial business meeting.

At that meeting, members of the band voted to terminate the defunct punk-rock group's agreement with Alternative Tentacles, the label that Biafra runs.

East Bay Ray (born Ray Pepperell), bassist Klaus Flouride (Geoffrey Lyall) and drummer D.H. Peligro (Darren Henley) are suing Biafra (Eric Reed Boucher) for allegedly mismanaging the band's royalties and catalog. Biafra is countersuing East Bay Ray, accusing him of mismanaging Decay Music, the bandmembers' four-man partnership responsible for distributing royalties and making band decisions.

Band-founded Alternative Tentacles (owned solely by Biafra since 1986) is responsible for promoting the group's catalog of songs, including their first single, "California Uber Alles" (RealAudio excerpt).

East Bay Ray testified Thursday in Superior Court that the meeting to discuss "management issues" was arranged so that Biafra could attend, but that he didn't show up.

"He didn't show up because he was out of town," Biafra's lawyer, John Stewart, replied. In an earlier statement, Biafra said he could not attend the meeting because he was on tour in Europe.

At the time the meeting was held, musicians on both sides of the dispute were under legal orders to communicate only through lawyers.

Ray testified that on the same day as the meeting, Decay's attorney sent instructions to manufacturers to stop making Dead Kennedys records. A press release announcing the split from Alternative Tentacles was issued the next day, using Decay's money, including Biafra's share.

East Bay Ray also answered questions about the discovery of discrepancies in royalties paid to Decay by Alternative Tentacles, and he detailed recording expenses, overseas licensing agreements and distribution of publishing and songwriting royalties.

Attorneys for both sides questioned East Bay Ray about a partnership agreement signed by all four members in 1991 — a document that outlined the role of Decay Music.

When asked by his attorney, David Phillips, why the partnership agreement was created, East Bay Ray said, "so there would be a record of what Decay owns."

Biafra's attorney objected, claiming that the document's wording does not say that Decay "owns" the band's recordings, but that the partnership was designed simply to administer, license and collect income from them.

The proceedings will continue Friday morning (May 5).