Jello Biafra

On this date in 1958, musician Jello Biafra (né Eric Reed Boucher) was born in Boulder, Colo., to Virginia (Parker) Boucher, a librarian, and Stanley Boucher, a psychiatric social worker and poet. Biafra is one-eighth Jewish but was unaware of that until the mid-2000s. He grew up in a secular household.

After high school he worked as a roadie for a punk rock band, enrolled at the University of Southern California-Santa Cruz and co-founded a San Francisco group in 1978 that became the Dead Kennedys, known for its politically themed songs, some laced with profanity. He adopted his stage name, mixing the gelatin dessert Jell-O with the short-lived west African nation Biafra.

He and Dead Kennedys guitarist East Bay Ray started the independent record label Alternative Tentacles in 1979. It lost the rights to Dead Kennedys recordings after a 2000 lawsuit. Biafra wrote the lyrics for the band’s 1981 EP “In God We Trust, Inc.,” which scorned organized religion (“Religious Vomit”) and neo-Nazis, among other targets. The band broke up in the mid-’80s and he began recording spoken word albums, joined the group Lard and formed Jello Biafra and the Guantanamo School of Medicine, performing for the first time on his 50th birthday. 

The band canceled a 2018 show in Tel Aviv due to political unrest over the Palestinian situation. Biafra ended up going by himself, and in an article titled “Thoughts On Visit to Israel” (, 5-24-18) wrote: “I have heard many times on both sides of the pond that ‘The problem is not the Israeli Jews. It’s the right-wing American Jews.’ ” He continued: “The bottom line, as one person at the table put it — can democracy survive religion? ‘A little bit of God is a dangerous thing.’ ”

Biafra married singer Theresa Soder, stage name Ninotchka, on Halloween 1981 in a cemetery. The ceremony was officiated by Flipper vocalist/bassist Bruce Loose, who became a Universal Life Church minister to marry them. They divorced in 1986. 

PHOTO: Biafra performing in 2010 in Hradec Kralove, Czech Republic; photo by yakub88 /

Freedom From Religion Foundation