East Bay Ray played guitar for Dead Kennedys and penned some of the most recognizable and memorable guitar riffs to emerge from the initial West Coast punk movement. While most punk guitarists of the time were one-dimensional, Ray incorporated a variety of styles into his playing and hatched a truly original guitar sound, effortlessly rolling off an assortment of riffs (from surf rock, power chords, '60s spy movies and original open voicings, in addition to creating spacey sounds courtesy of an Echoplex effects box.
From The Oakland Tribune & The San Jose Mercury News, Nov. 7 2006:
THE BAY AREA'S 25 GREATEST GUITAR PLAYERS
"Jello Biafra got all the press. But it was the guy beside him in the Dead Kennedys - East Bay Ray - who had the bigger hand in drawing up the blueprint for the second wave of American punk."
East Bay Ray was born in the San Francisco Bay Area, California on November 17, 1958. He was inspired to do music by his father, who had a collection of 78RPM jazz and country blues records from the 1930's and 40's. When Ray's father was a teenager, he used to sneak into black jazz clubs to see Duke Ellington and Count Basie back when the country had legal racial segregation. His father would later take Ray and his brother when they were very young to see legendary performers like Muddy Waters, the Count Basie orchestra and Lightin' Hopkins. Ray's music was also inspired by his mother, who listened to the Weavers and Pete Seeger. Both his parents use to organize art and music festivals in their local suburban neighborhood.
In addition to music, Ray was also politically inspired by his parents - both his mother and father were involved in the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s.
In school, Ray planned on being an architect, but found it too artistically restricting. When he did graduated from the University of California at Berkeley, Ray was writing and playing music and he found by then that it had become impossible for him to live without music.
Dead Kennedyts were founded in mid 1978 when Ray placed an ad in a San Francisco music paper looking for other musicians to form a punk band. Jello Biafra and Klaus Flouride answered that ad and their meeting led to the formation of the Dead Kennedys. The band went on to international recognition, Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables received a Gold record in the United Kingdom and the band's recordings are well known in alternative circles in addition to receiving chart action in the USA.
Dead Kennedys toured worldwide - throughout the USA, Canada, Mexico, United Kingdom, Germany, Holland, Austria, France, Italy, Sweden, Denmark, Russia, Poland, Hungary, Serbia, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Turkey, Argentina, Brazil, and have made many international TV appearances and videos.
In addition to playing guitar for the band, East Bay Ray supervised many of the band's recording and record releases. He produced and mixed Dead Kennedys' first single, “California Über Alles”/“Man with the Dogs,” and sold the first copies from the back of his car to local record stores and from his house over the phone. He went on to produce or mix many of their other classic recordings, including “Holiday in Cambodia”/“Police Truck” (w/ Geza X), Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables, In God We Trust , Inc., “Too Drunk to Fuck”/“The Prey” (w/ Geza X), Plastic Surgery Disasters, and “Bleed for Me”/“Life Sentence” (both w/ Thom Wilson). When Dead Kennedys suffered from distribution problems owing to the band's controversial name and subject matter, Ray set up Alternative Tentacles Records as a formal company in 1981 for the band to counter the major record labels' reluctance to distribute their material in addition to releasing recordings by other artists. He remained a partner in the label until mid 1986.
After Dead Kennedys stopped touring in February 1986, Ray played and recorded with a range of other artists, including garage-pop rocker Pearl Harbour and the exotica lounge act Frenchy. Ray played on the album Sidi Mansour by Algerian Rai music singer Cheikha Remitti, which featured contributions by King Crimson guitarist Robert Fripp and Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea, and he added his guitar to (hed) pe's CD Broke on the track "Waiting to Die." East Bay Ray composed and recorded a soundtrack for the film directors David Segal and Scott McGhee (who later went on to make the acclaimed 2001 thriller/drama The Deep End ).
Ray continues his work in the recording studio and has been sought out to produce, mix, and/or master other artist's albums, including recordings by Cell Block 5 , Strychnine , No Alternative, and Toxic Reasons, among others. He also mixed and produced the two live CD's of Dead Kennedys' recordings, Mutiny on the Bay, 2001, and Live at the Deaf Club , 2004.
Known in the alternative music scene for his unique artistry and wide array of talents, Ray was featured in the January 2006 issue of Guitar World and in the April 2006 edition of Guitar Player magazine speaking about music, guitar playing and record production techniques.