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Holiday in Cambodia

"Holiday in Cambodia"
Single by Dead Kennedys
from the album Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables
B-side "Police Truck"
Released May 1980
Format 7"
Genre Hardcore punk, post-punk
Length 4:38 (album version)
3:43 (single version)
Label Cherry Red / Alternative Tentacles
Writer(s) Jello Biafra/John Greenway
Producer(s) Dead Kennedys
Dead Kennedys singles chronology
"California Über Alles"
"Holiday in Cambodia"
"Police Truck"

"Holiday in Cambodia" is a song by American punk band the Dead Kennedys. The record was released as the group's second single in May 1980 on Alternative Tentacles with "Police Truck" as its b-side. The title track was re-recorded for the band's first album, Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables (1980); the original recording of the song, as well as the single's b-side, are available on the rarities album Give Me Convenience or Give Me Death (1987). The photograph in the front cover of the single was taken from the Thammasat University massacre in Thailand, and depicts a member of the right-wing crowd beating the corpse of a student protester with a metal chair.

The song is an attack on a stereotypical, moralizing, privileged American college student. Its lyrics offer a satirical view of young, well-to-do and self-righteous Americans, contrasting such a lifestyle with the brutal dictatorship of the Khmer Rouge, led by Pol Pot (depicted on the original single's label and mentioned in the lyrics), which is estimated to have been responsible for the deaths of some two million people[1] in Cambodia between 1975 and 1979.

The re-recording of this song that appears on Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables is different from the single version, being fifty-five seconds longer, at a higher tempo and featuring an extended, surf-influenced intro, as well as an extended bridge. While the original lyrics include the satirically quoted word "niggers", subsequent performances by the reformed Dead Kennedys (post-2001, without vocalist Jello Biafra) and various other artists who have recorded the song over the years have omitted it substituting other words in its place. When the song was featured in Rock Band 2 as a downloadable track, along with two other songs by the group, the word was replaced with "brothers", and in performances over the years with other groups, Biafra has often used "blacks". The song also mentions the Dr. Seuss short story "The Sneetches".

In October 1998, Biafra was sued by former members of Dead Kennedys.[2] According to Biafra, the suit was a result of his refusal to allow "Holiday in Cambodia" to be used in a commercial for Levi's Dockers; Biafra opposes Levi's due to what he believes are their unfair business practices and sweatshop labor.[3] However, the other members claimed that their royalties had been defrauded. "The record industry has been skimming royalties owed artists since the beginning," according to Dead Kennedys' guitarist East Bay Ray. "This case is no different from blues musicians being taken advantage of in the twenties and thirties. Many people doubted the claims we made against our former record label back in 1998 but with this announcement there is no denying we were the victims here."[4] Biafra lost the lawsuit and as the owner of Alternative Tentacles was ordered to pay $200,000 in damages to the other band members.[5]


  • Covers and other versions 1
  • In other media 2
  • Charts 3
  • References 4
  • External links 5

Covers and other versions

In other media


Chart (1980) Peak
UK Indie Chart[10] 2


  1. ^ Khmer Rouge#Number of deaths
  2. ^ V. Vale, Ex-Dead Kennedys vs Jello Biafra, RE/Search Publications.
  3. ^
  4. ^ "Record Label Drops Legal Action Against Dead Kennedys". Dead Kennedys News. 2004-07-14. 
  5. ^
  6. ^ "Fresh Duck for Rotting Accordionists ~ Release by Duckmandu!". MusicBrainz!. Retrieved 12 February 2014. 
  7. ^ Einhart, Nancy (2002-04-03). "The Keys to Success". SF Weekly. 
  8. ^ """Office Of Future Plans and Damon Locks cover "Holiday In Cambodia. Retrieved 13 April 2013. 
  9. ^ "Holiday in Cambodia".  
  10. ^ Lazell, Barry (1997). Indie Hits 1980-1989. Cherry Red Books. Retrieved September 5, 2014. 

External links

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