In 1991, the best-selling singles act in the world was ‘The KLF,’ a duo consisting of Bill Drummond and Jimmy Cauty. This UK-based group engaged in varied activities and made a point of both mocking the music industry as a whole and not earning a single thing. During their short careers neither one of the pair made any money, instead putting all of their earnings back into increasingly lavish productions. Through the early 90’s their popularity soared with the release of their number one hit ‘Doctorin’ the Tardis’ which mashed together the Doctor Who theme with Rock and Roll (Part Two) and other popular songs of the era. The hit was slated by critics universally but still managed to reach the top ten in Australia and Norway.
The end of the peculiar ride came with an incendiary performance by The KLF at the Brit Awards. They joined up with the band Extreme Noise Terror and, on prime-time television and performed a thrash metal version of their popular song ‘3.am eternal.’ Bill Drummond was on crutches screaming the lyrics into the microphone. He then hobbled off stage and came back on with a large automatic machine gun and a cigar, for effect. He then fired blanks into the audience which panicked. At the end they left the stage and the announcer declared:
“The KLF have now left the music Industry.”
This turned out to be very prescient as later that year the pair retired swiftly and entirely. Then they had a problem. Over the next few months their music still was bringing them money, but they didn’t want to make a profit. By 1993 they had £1,000,000 between them, so they set up the ‘K – Foundation.’ It was initially a fund to help struggling artists but then, true to form they decided against it.
“We realised that struggling artists are supposed to struggle, that’s the whole point.”
Their first deed, nailing all of the money to a pine frame, but no galleries would exhibit it. They considered taking it to Russia by train but no company was willing to insure it. They were at a loss as to what to do when in 1994 they had an idea. In a café they were trying to decide what to spend the money on, then they scrapped that. They would burn it.