On 23 August 1994, The KLF – one of Britain’s most incendiary bands, in more ways than one – burned £1m on a remote Scottish island.
They vowed to put their careers on hold for 23 years.
That time is now up.
So at 23 seconds past midnight on Wednesday they made their comeback at a book launch in Liverpool.
The duo are also hosting a three-day event including performance and debates starting with the topic “Why Did the K Foundation Burn a Million Quid?”
They have promised that their new book 2023, described as “a utopian costume drama set in the near future written in the recent past”, will be then performed in full in the city on Thursday.
The event will finish on Friday with a “Graduation Ball” headlined by a hitherto unknown artist named Badger Kull, who is billed as having just one three-minute song, titled Toxteth Day of the Dead.
The KLF – who also went by names including The Justified Ancients of Mu Mu, The K Foundation and The Timelords – had hits like 3AM Eternal, Last Train to Trancentral and What Time Is Love? in the late 1980s and ’90s.
As well as their electrifying pop-trance hits, Jimmy Cauty and Bill Drummond became known for their outrageous, self-sabotaging stunts.
Here’s four of them:
1. Abba vs The Justified Ancients of Mu Mu
The duo were ordered to destroy all copies of their 1987 debut album after a complaint from Abba, who objected to the unauthorised sampling of Dancing Queen.
Cauty and Drummond travelled to Sweden to try to track Abba down in person. But they failed, so they presented the gold disc they had brought with them to a Swedish prostitute instead.
As you do.
They burned some of the LPs in a field before throwing the rest overboard from the ferry on the way home.
The album was eventually released with large stretches of silence where the samples had been.
2. The chart manual
After getting to number one as The Timelords with Doctor Who theme rip-off Doctorin’ the Tardis (fronted by Gary Glitter), they published a book called The Manual (How To Have A Number One The Easy Way) with instructions about how to top the charts.
Austrian Eurotrash band Edelweiss followed their advice and sold five million records.
3. The great Brit Awards massacre
When The KLF won best British group at the 1992 Brit Awards, they made their disdain for the music industry clear by performing 3AM Eternal with death metal group Extreme Noise Terror.
The appearance ended with Drummond firing blanks from a machine gun into the stunned audience before an announcer said: “The KLF have left the music business.”
Not satisfied with that, they dumped a dead sheep on the steps of the after-show party with a note reading “I died for you”, and deleted their back catalogue.
4. The £1m bonfire
After their resignation from the music industry, they rejected everything that had gone before in the most extreme way in 1994 – taking the £1m they had left in royalties to the island of Jura and burning bundles of £50 notes.
That led to howls of protests from those who said it should have gone to a worthy cause.
Despite saying they wouldn’t talk about it, they actually have. “There’s plenty of people who want to give money to charity,” Cauty told Irish TV. “We want to do something that we found more interesting with the money.”