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D.H. Peligro, drummer for punk band the Dead Kennedys, died Friday at age 63


D.H. Peligro, the longtime drummer for the iconic punk band Dead Kennedys, has died at the age of 63.


SUMMERS: His frantic hardcore drumming set the pace for the band's boundary-pushing lyrics and performances.


Born Darren Henley in St. Louis, Mo., Peligro moved to San Francisco to join the punk music scene. After hearing Dead Kennedys play, he auditioned to be their next drummer. Peligro brought fresh energy to the band's music. And despite the music's aggressive formula, Peligro was a warm, easygoing person.


D H PELIGRO: We don't want people coming down to make trouble. We are pretty anti-violence.

SUMMERS: Peligro was also one of the few Black punk musicians early on, and he spoke openly about his experiences with racism when the band toured. NPR Music's Lars Gotrich says Peligro helped set the bar for the hardcore music scene's beat.

LARS GOTRICH, BYLINE: He had the stamina to blast through these 90-second songs, but he also had soul. I mean, just listen to the song "I Spy," which Peligro wrote. It swings at first.


GOTRICH: But then, just as the song barrels into a surf-punk chaos and everything feels like it's going to topple over, Peligro keeps everything steady. His precision and innovation would become the backbone of American hardcore.

KELLY: D.H. Peligro was 63 years old.


DEAD KENNEDYS: (Singing) I spy for you and me. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Lauren Hodges is an associate producer for All Things Considered. She joined the show in 2018 after seven years in the NPR newsroom as a producer and editor. She doesn't mind that you used her pens, she just likes them a certain way and asks that you put them back the way you found them, thanks. Despite years working on interviews with notable politicians, public figures, and celebrities for NPR, Hodges completely lost her cool when she heard RuPaul's voice and was told to sit quietly in a corner during the rest of the interview. She promises to do better next time.
Mary Louise Kelly is a co-host of All Things Considered, NPR's award-winning afternoon newsmagazine.
Juana Summers is a political correspondent for NPR covering race, justice and politics. She has covered politics since 2010 for publications including Politico, CNN and The Associated Press. She got her start in public radio at KBIA in Columbia, Mo., and also previously covered Congress for NPR.
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