negotiations had broken down following their plans to fill a stage with angels and Zulus and arrive on the back of elephants.
With hindsight, it was Jonathan King that killed the KLF. His fatal blow was an innocent-sounding comment. His words may not have split the group immediately, because Cauty and Drummond had too much momentum to stop straight away. But it was only a matter of time, as the implications of what he had said could not be ignored for long. The KLF staggered on for another three months, too stunned to realize that they were already dead.
It was February 1992 and the KLF had just won the ‘Best Band’ award at the Brit Awards. Jonathan King was the producer of the awards show, and he had been asked what he thought of the KLF’s live performance at the show. “I enjoyed it”, he said.
He enjoyed it. There was nothing else for it. It had to end.
King is a music producer, TV presenter and a recording artist who has sold over 40 million records under various pseudonyms, most of them novelty singles. As he busied himself backstage at the Hammersmith Odeon organizing the 1992 Brits Awards, he was forty eight years old and dressed in a garish shell suit and a baseball cap with ‘KING’ stamped in metal across the front. In the coming decade he was named ‘Man of the Year’ by the BPI, praised by Tony Blair and convicted of multiple sexual offences on underage boys, so in many ways Jonathan King could be said to personify the music industry. King’s acceptance had, on a symbolic level, signified the music industry claiming Drummond and Cauty for itself.
Drummond and Cauty’s problem with the music industry wasn’t the usual adolescent anti-authoritarian posturing that is so common among musicians. It was the result of bitter experience. By that point Cauty and Drummond had twenty-five years’ experience in the industry between them, from running record labels to producing, working in A&R, being in unsuccessful bands and being pop stars. They knew what the music industry did to people, and they also knew what it had done to them. But by then they also knew how much they had been formed by it. It had shaped their lives and left them feeling corrupted, but it was also an integral part of who they were.
It’s still surprising that they were asked to provide the opening performance for that year’s Brit Awards show. They had been asked to appear the previous year, but negotiations had broken down following their plans to fill a stage with angels and Zulus and arrive on the back of elephants. The deal breaker, with hindsight, was probably their plan to chain-saw the legs off one of the elephants. The elephant, they said, represented the music industry. The organizers understandably walked away at this point, but they should have realized then that they were not dealing with stable individuals. Read more “KLF at the Brit Awards Show 1992 — Machine gunning the audience (and a Dead Sheep)”