Bill Drummond

Bill Drummond looking sober, respectable and sane. Don't be fooled.

Bill Drummond is FirstFoot's kind of musician. He has consistently stuck two fingers up at the mendacious, avaricious, pretentious animal that constitutes the music and arts businesses, whilst simultaneously making a fortune from them.

William E. Drummond was born in 1953 and grew up in Galloway. The teenage Drummond ran away to sea to become a fisherman off the North East coast of Scotland, a period he described as "my youth years lost afloat". He then went to Liverpool to study art. And it is there that the story really begins.

In the mid 1970's Liverpool was an extraordinary place for music. It wasn't long before Drummond joined Liverpool punk band 'Big In Japan'. Although they were crap, they spawned major careers for three of the personnel; Drummond himself, Holly Johnson of 'Frankie Goes To Hollywood', and Ian Broudie of 'Lightning Seeds' and a frightening number of high class production credits.
Ian McCulloch - Echo and the Bunnymen
Ian McCulloch - Echo and the Bunnymen

After Big in Japan split, Drummond formed Zoo Records. Zoo signed and released output from two of the defining Liverpool acts of the period; 'Echo and The Bunnymen' and 'The Teardrop Explodes', both of whom Drummond also managed.

Drummond was an interesting manager. When he was questioned about the point of a Bunnymen tour of bizarre and apparently random sites, including the Northern Isles, Drummond's response was, "It's not random, if you look at a map of the world, the whole tour's in the shape of a rabbit's ears."

Demonstrating a more caring side to his character as the Teardrops manager, he once told lead singer, Julian Cope, to commit suicide in order to boost record sales.
Jimmy Caulty and Bill Drummond - The Kopyright Liberation Foundation
Jimmy Caulty and Bill Drummond - The Kopyright Liberation Foundation

With a management style like that, something had to give and it did. Following an acrimonious split with both bands, Drummond joined WEA as an A&R man and during his stint was responsible, amongst other things, for nurturing The Proclaimers.

But the best was yet to come.

In 1987, together with Jimmy Cauty, ex-Killing Joke, he formed a creative partnership which released output under a number of guises most notably the KLF. The partnership will be long remembered, but probably not for the music.

KLF were masters of culture-jamming, art terrorism, media manipulation. There are three examples of this which are most memorable:

The 1992 BRIT Awards

On live TV, and in front of the captains of the music industry Drummond and Cauty launched a 2 band, mega-metal-thrash with screeching guitars, 200mph drumming and shouted lyrics. The industry had been expecting a KLF dance track.
brits1992
Drummond, in a kilt, sprays captains of the music industry with blanks from his machine gun at the 1992 Brit awards.

The finale was Drummond returning onstage with a large automatic machine gun, and a cigar in his mouth, sparks and explosions from the rear of the stage, and Drummond shooting realistic sounding blanks into the audience.

They left the stage with the audience incredulous, to an announcement "The KLF have now left the music industry".

1993 Art Award

As a reaction to the Turner prize awarded to the best young British artist, KLF Foundation announced an award for the worst British art. The prize was £40,000, twice the value of the Turner prize. The winner of the KLF award would be announced in a TV advert during the live Turner prize coverage on Channel 4.

The recipient of the award was to be Rachel Whiteread, also the winner of the Turner prize.

The money was nailed to a wooden frame and secured to the railings outside the Tate Gallery, where the awards were being held and televised live.

Whitread only accepted the award after the K foundation threatened to burn it if she did not.

In a bizarre simultaneous sideshow, KLF nailed £1,000,000 of their own money to an art installation. When they dismantled the installtion and returned the million to the Bank of England, pierced with nail-holes, the Bank declared the money unusable and fined the K- Foundation £9000 for damaging it and charged them £500 to print a new million. Who says money isn't cheap?

Burning £1,000,000

Allegedly, they burnt a million pounds in an abandoned boathouse on Jura, near the village of Ardfin on the 23rd of August 1994.

It took just over an hour for Cauty and Drummond to pile the wads onto the flames and the spectacle was witnessed by a freelance journalist.

This should be balanced against an Omnibus TV documentary on the burning, where the KLF's bank confirmed that a million pounds in cash had been withdrawn.

Unfortunately, the supporting film also showed a bank statement with a credit transfer of £1,300,000 going into the Foundation's account just a few days later.

Not that we suggest anything. Probably coincidence.

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