The KLF

The KLF Artistfacts

  • 1987-1992
    Bill Drummond
    Jimmy Cauty
  • Bill Drummond's musical career began in 1977 when he founded the punk group Big In Japan. The group's membership also included future successful musicians Holly Johnson (Frankie Goes to Hollywood), Budgie (Siouxsie and the Banshees), and Ian Broudie (The Lightning Seeds).
  • After Big In Japan's demise, Drummond and another member David Balfe started Zoo Records. From 1979 he acted as manager, producer and publisher for post-punk outfits The Teardrop Explodes and Echo And The Bunnymen before leaving his home city of Liverpool to concentrate on work as an A&R man for WEA records in London. Among the acts he worked with there were Strawberry Switchblade and a group called Brilliant which had been formed by former Killing Joke bassist, Youth, and featured a guitarist called Jimmy Cauty.
  • In 1987 Bill Drummond joined with Jimmy Cauty to form The Justified Ancients of Mu Mu (The JAMs), a collaboration that played out in various guises and media over much of the next decade, including The TimeLords and KLF.
  • Drmmond and Cauty had their first UK #1 the following year under the Timelords moniker with "Doctorin' The Tardis", a cheesy dance take on the theme from Doctor Who. Following the song's success, Drummond quickly published his first book The Manual (How To Have A Number One The Easy Way) which told its readers how to have a #1 hit.
  • The Manuel offered a money-back guarantee to the reader if they followed the book's advice but failed to have a #1 hit. Some applied but Drummond later sheepishly admitted he never answered them.
  • Austrian group Edelweiss' only real hit "Bring Me Edelweiss" was made following the guidelines in the book. One of the instructions of The Manual was to "Compose your music with bits you've nicked from other songs." As a result "Bring Me Edelweiss" is full of samples.
  • KLF was originally the initials of The JAMs' record label, Kopyright Liberation Front, before becoming the name for Drummond and Cauty's recording projects.
  • The first album released by KLF in February 1990 was an ambient house concept album Chill Out. The album sampled instrumentation, vocals and sound effects overlaid with original music and is considered to be the first proper ambient house album.

    "The phrase ambient house was basically born out of cynicism, but once we'd come up with it we thought, 'Okay, if it's got to be called something, that's as good a name as any. We knew that people would soon pick up on it - it's the start of a new decade and everyone wants to have something different to talk about - so we drew up a list of tracks to recite to anyone who asked us what ambient house was," Jimmy Cauty recalled to Melody Maker. "It was full of contradictions."
  • Ever since the release of 1990s Chill Out LP featured pictures of sheep on the sleeve, the animal had been The KLF emblem. As part of their 1992 Brit Awards performance, Drummond and Cauty had originally planned to carve up a freshly slaughtered sheep onstage and fling the pieces at the audience, in front of the millions of TV viewers. They were prevented from doing so by their vegetarian backing band Extreme Noise Terror. The performance instead featured a kilted Drummond firing blanks from an automatic weapon over the heads of the crowd.

    The sheep was laid at the entrance to the post-awards party, with a tag reading: "I died for ewe. Bon appetit."
  • On May 14, 1992 The KLF issued a press statement to the effect that they had ceased to exist:

    "We have been following a wild and wounded, glum and glorious, s--t but shining path these past five years; the last two of which have led us up onto the commercial high ground. We are at a point now where the path is about to take a sharp turn from these sunny uplands down into a nether world of we know not what. For the foreseeable future, there will be no further record releases from the Justified Ancients Of Mu Mu, The KLF, or any other past, present, or future name attached to our activities. And as of now all our past releases are deleted."
  • The KLF's brief life-span included five Top 5 singles in the UK, and two US Top 20 hits. The duo were the UKs best-selling singles act of 1991.
  • The K Foundation was an arts foundation established by Drummond and Cauty in 1993, following their decision to kill off KLF. The pair engaged in a number of art projects and media campaigns, including the K Foundation art award (for the "worst artist of the year").
  • On August 23, 1994, Drummond and Cauty traveled to Scotland's Isle of Jura and filmed themselves burning what was left of their KLF earnings - a million pounds in cash.

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