40 Years Ago: DEAD KENNEDYS perform Pull My Strings at the Bammies

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40 Years Ago: DEAD KENNEDYS perform Pull My Strings at the Bammies

The DEAD KENNEDYS only played "Pull My Strings" once - on this day in 1980 at the third annual Bay Area Music Awards, an industry event held at the Warfield Theater, San Francisco. Broadcast live on KMEL.

Bay Area Musician, or BAM for short, was kind of the Rolling Stone for San Francisco. It would have these award shows every year. You get to give an award to people and that strokes their ego. That’s what the BAMMIES were about. As a journalist, one of your biggest fears is being uncool. And the BAMMIES figured they were being uncool, because The Clash were coming. All this stuff was coming out in England, all this new music in the Top Ten. And there’s nothing like that in the States. So they asked us to play, in order to give themselves some street cred, I guess. And of course, we were meant to play our big hit, ‘California Über Alles’. But we changed it a bit, and it became ‘Pull My Strings’.

East Bay Ray / Dead Kennedys interview, Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables: The Early Years

The band were booked to play "California Über Alles", which they sound-checked earlier in the day, but during the live performance quickly broke into "Pull My Strings", written specifically for this event by drummer Ted and Biafra. The song parodies THE KNACK's "My Sharona" - their big hit, released the same month as "California Über Alles". The band wore a 'new wave' shirt & tie combo with spray-painted S's.

The live recording was included on the 1987 compilation Give Me Convenience or Give Me Death.