Mysterious band burned £1million on remote island and fired machine gun at crowd

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On August 23, 1994, mysterious musical duo The KLF took £1 million to a remote Scottish island and, in the middle of the night, they ceremoniously burned the lot.

The bonkers move on the Isle of Jura came two years after the electronic duo fired blanks from a machine gun into a stunned Brit Awards crowd – their final performance before quitting the music industry.

Both shocking incidents went down in rave folklore. And a 2021 documentary called Who Killed the KLF? brought the band under the spotlight again.

Looking back at the career of the KLF – there was rarely a dull moment. Here we recall some of their strangest stunts.

Surfing in on the acid house wave, the KLF – an acronym for Kopyright Liberation Front, will be remembered by ravers of a certain age for hits such as 3am Eternal and Justified and Ancient.

Members Bill Drummond and Jimmy Cauty reportedly burned their debut album in woods in Sweden after Abba refused to let them use samples of Dancing Queen. But by 1991 they were the bestselling British act in the world.

It was their final acts as a band which attracted perhaps the most press attention.

The £1m bonfire

They haven't said a lot about the notorious million pounds, but Drummond recently said they didn't regret the move.

At the time, it was widely condemned with people pointing out they could have donated the cash to charity.

Cauty once said: “There’s plenty of people who want to give money to charity. We want to do something we found more interesting with the money.”

The pair had also reportedly said they wanted to create artwork with Drummond stating that burning the money “seemed the most powerful thing to do”.

Brits machine gun chaos and dead sheep at after-party

After winning the award for best band in 1992, no-one at the Brit Awards ceremony could anticipate the chaos that would ensue.

The duo had invited hardcore punk band Extreme Noise Terror to collaborate with them for a new version of their hit song 3am Eternal, which resulted in conductor Sir George Solti walking out in disgust.

Drummond, ended the performance by firing blanks from a machine gun over the unsuspecting audience.

The final words were spoken by their radio plugger, Scott Piering: “The KLF have left the music business.”

Later that night, the KLF left a dead sheep outside the venue of an aftershow party, with their Brit Award reportedly found buried in a field near Stonehenge in 1993.

Bill Drummond and Jimmy Cauty deleted their entire back catalogue.

They then wrote a vow of silence on a Nissan Bluebird which was pushed off a cliff at Cape Wrath.

Return of the icecream van

When they burned all that money on the beach in 1994, the KLF said they would return in 23 years. And in August 2017, they kept their promise.

The pair hurtled back into the spotlight in the ice cream van that was a theme in their songs at a launch in Liverpool of their new book, 2023.

It was described as nightmarish vision of a world in the not-too-distant future that’s ruled by big corporations.

  • BRIT Awards

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