1988 – 1992 (4 years)
Liverpool, Merseyside, England, United Kingdom
The KLF (also known as The Justified Ancients of Mu Mu, The Timelords, Kopyright Liberation Front and other names) were one of the seminal bands of the British pop music scene during the late 1980s and early 1990s, best known worldwide for their various stunts such as burning copies of their album "1987: What The Fuck is Going On?" on a bonfire in a Swedish field, firing machine gun blanks into the audience, writing a book on how to make a number one hit, dumping a dead sheep at the afterparty of the BRIT Awards and most infamously, burning £1,000,000 on an island off the coast of Scotland.
Beginning in 1987 in London, England, Bill Drummond (alias King Boy D) and Jimmy Cauty (alias Rockman Rock) released hip hop-inspired and sample-heavy records as The Justified Ancients of Mu Mu and, on one occasion (the British number one hit single "Doctorin' the Tardis"), as The Timelords. As The KLF, Drummond and Cauty pioneered the genres "stadium house" (rave music with a pop-rock production and sampled crowd noise) and "ambient house". The KLF released a series of international top-ten hits on their own KLF Communications record label, and became the highest internationally selling UK band of 1991. The duo also published a book, The Manual, and worked on a road movie called The White Room.
From the outset, they adopted the philosophy espoused by esoteric novels The Illuminatus! Trilogy, gaining notoriety for various anarchic situationist manifestations, including the defacement of billboard adverts, the posting of prominent cryptic advertisements in NME magazine and the mainstream press, and highly distinctive and unusual performances on Top of the Pops. Their most notorious performance was at the February 1992 Brit Awards, where they horrified the formal audience with a hardcore thrash version of "3 A.M. Eternal" (performed with the justifiably named Extreme Noise Terror) that also included Drummond spraying the crowd with blanks from an automatic rifle and the post-performance announcement, "The KLF have left the music industry." Topping their already extreme actions, Cauty and Drummond delivered the carcass of a dead sheep – plus eight gallons of blood – to the lobby of the hotel after-party. In May 1992 the duo deleted their entire back catalogue.
With The KLF's profits, Drummond and Cauty established the K Foundation and sought to subvert the art world, staging an alternative art award for the worst artist of the year and burning a million pounds sterling. Although Drummond and Cauty remained true to their word of May 1992—the KLF Communications catalogue remains deleted—they have released a small number of new tracks since then, as the K Foundation, The One World Orchestra and most recently, in 1997, as 2K. Cauty has provided remixing services for bands as diverse as Hawkwind and Placebo, under the name Scourge of the Earth.
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