Peligro made his recording debut with Dead Kennedys on the 1981 EP In God We Trust, Inc., which notoriously was the first of the band’s many anti-Ronald Reagan references. The record also includes their legendary hit “Nazi Punks Fuck Off”. Peligro’s hardcore drumming style continued, in modified form, on the band’s second album, 1982’s Plastic Surgery Disasters, and on their next set of records: 1985’s Frankenchrist, 1986’s Bedtime for Democracy and the compilation album Give Me Convenience or Give Me Death from 1987.
After the Dead Kennedys split in December 1986, Peligro briefly joined the Red Hot Chili Peppers in 1988. The band needed a drummer after their original member Jack Irons left. A longtime friend of the band and former bandmates of Anthony Kiedis and Flea in their prank project Three Little Butt Hairs, Peligro enjoyed stepping on the plate. He performed with Red Hot Chili Peppers and contributed to the songwriting process for several tracks on their fourth album Mother’s Milk. Peligro is also responsible for introducing Kiedis and Flea to then-teen John Frusciante, who joined shortly after as their new guitarist. In November of that year, Peligro was fired. Red Hot Chili Peppers replaced him with Chad Smith a few weeks later.
In 2001, Ray, Peligro and Flouride reunited Dead Kennedys with Brandon Cruz replacing Biafra. Aside from a year-long absence to address health issues, Peligro has been part of the band’s overall reunion efforts, from multiple tours to live album releases such as Mutiny on the Bay, Live at the Deaf Club and DK 40.
In the later years of his career, Peligro performed with other artists, both live and in the studio, including Moby, Feederz, the Aliens sans Roky Erickson, and Nailbomb, among others. He also formed his own band called Peligro, which released a self-titled album, Welcome to America and Sum of Our Surroundings. He has also fronted the bands Reverend Jones and the Cool Aid Choir, the Hellions and Al Sharpton’s Hair.
An early black icon on the punk rock scene, Peligro was frequently open about his experiences of racism while touring, including being denied entry to clubs where his bands were scheduled to play. “Music took me places I wouldn’t normally go and it was okay when you were on stage, but when you got off they got drunk and called you all kinds of names,” he told LA Weekly. “You go south, you go through the Midwest, then people thought it was white music, or I was the janitor or security or something. You had to experience racism first-hand because not everyone was as open-minded as in San Francisco. It’s a bit more open and accepted today, but there are still people who want to use punk rock to make hate music. That annoys me to no end.”