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The KLF (also known as The Justified Ancients of Mu Mu, furthermore known as The JAMs, The Timelords and other names) were a British electronica band of the late 1980s and early 1990s.
Beginning in 1987, 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. The KLF released a series of international hits on their own KLF Communications record label, and became the biggest-selling singles act in the world for 1991. The duo also published a book, The Manual (How to Have a Number One the Easy Way), and worked on a road movie called The White Room.
From the outset, they adopted the philosophy espoused by esoteric novel series 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 a collaboration with Extreme Noise Terror (and Barney Greenaway of Napalm Death) at the February 1992 BRIT Awards, where they fired machine gun blanks into the audience and dumped a dead sheep at the aftershow party. This performance announced The KLF's departure from the music business, and 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 one million pounds sterling. Drummond and Cauty remained true to their word of May 1992; the KLF Communications catalogue remains deleted in the UK, but The White Room is still being pressed in the U.S. by Arista. 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.
In 1986, Bill Drummond was an established figure within the British music industry, having co-founded Zoo Records, played guitar in the Liverpool band Big in Japan, and worked as manager of Echo & the Bunnymen and The Teardrop Explodes. On 21 July of that year, he resigned from his position as an A&R man at record label WEA, citing that he was nearly 33⅓ years old (33⅓ revolutions per minute being significant to Drummond as the speed at which a vinyl LP revolves), and that it was "time for a revolution in my life. There is a mountain to climb the hard way, and I want to see the world from the top". He released a well-received solo LP, The Man, judged by reviewers as "tastefully understated," a "touching if idiosyncratic biographical statement" encapsulating "his bizarrely sage ruminations", and "a work of humble genius: the best kind".
Artist and musician Jimmy Cauty was, in 1986, the guitarist in the commercially unsuccessful three-piece Brilliant - an act that Drummond had signed to WEA Records and managed. Cauty and Drummond shared an interest in the esoteric conspiracy novels The Illuminatus! Trilogy, and, in particular, their theme of Discordianism, a form of post-modern anarchism. As an art student in Liverpool, Drummond had been involved with the set design for the first stage production of The Illuminatus! Trilogy, a 12-hour performance which opened in Liverpool on 23 November 1976.
Re-reading Illuminatus! in late 1986, and influenced by hip-hop, Drummond felt inspired to react against what he perceived to be the stagnant soundscape of popular music. Recalling that moment in a later radio interview, Drummond said that the plan came to him in an instant: he would form a hip-hop band with former colleague Jimmy Cauty, and they would be called The Justified Ancients of Mu Mu.
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