The band confirmed the news of Peligro’s passing on their official social media accounts Saturday night (Oct. 29), noting that he died the day before in his Los Angeles home following an accidental fall.
“Dead Kennedys’ drummer D.H. Peligro (Darren Henley) passed away in his Los Angeles home yesterday, October 28th,” Dead Kennedys wrote in a statement on Instagram. “Police on the scene stated that he died from trauma to the head caused by an accidental fall. Arrangements are pending and will be announced in the coming days. We ask that you respect the family’s privacy during this difficult time. Thank you for your thoughts and words of comfort.”
“My dear friend, my brother I miss you so much,” Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Flea wrote on Instagram upon hearing of his death. Peligro had played with the band briefly, in 1988, and has three writing credits on RHCP’s Mother’s Milk album.
Flea’s tribute said: “I’m devastated today, a river of tears, but all my life I will treasure every second. The first time I saw you play with the DK’s in ‘81 you blew my mind. The power, the soul, the recklessness. You became my beloved friend, so many times of every kind. We had so much fun, so much joy, having each other’s backs. I love you with all my heart. You are the truest rocker, and a crucial part of rhcp history. D H P in the place to be, you live forever in our hearts, you wild man, you bringer of joy, you giant hearted man. I will always honor you. Rest In Peace and freedom from all that restrained you.”
Peligro, born Darren Henley in 1959, joined Dead Kennedys in 1981 and first appeared on the band’s In God We Trust, Inc. EP that year. The St. Louis native who moved to San Francisco recorded on the band’s pre-breakup studio albums Plastic Surgery Disasters (1982), Frankenchrist (1985) and Bedtime for Democracy (1986), plus the compilation album Give Me Convenience or Give Me Death (1987).
Dead Kennedys reunited (without original vocalist Jello Biafra) in 2001, with Peligro returning on drums alongside other original band members East Bay Ray and Klaus Flouride.
In a 2018 interview with LA Weekly, he spoke of the racism he faced touring in a punk rock band over the years. “You go down South, you go across the Midwest, then people were thinking that it was music for white people, or I was the janitor or security or something,” Peligro said. “You got to experience the racism firsthand, because everybody wasn’t as open-minded as they were in San Francisco. It’s a bit more open and accepted today, but there’s still pockets of people who want to use punk rock to create hate music. That angers me to no end.”
At the time, he said he was working on a script for a series based on his 2013 memoir, Dreadnaught: King of Afropunk. “It’s about all the stuff you don’t hear about from African-American punk rockers,” he told the publication.