The carnage of The KLF’s final show


Machine guns and dead sheep: The carnage of The KLF’s final show

(Credits: Far Out / Apple Music)


During their time, The KLF took on Swedish pop supergroup, the music industry en masse, and in 1992, a very unsuspecting audience at the Brit Awards. The duo of Bill Drummond and Jimmy Cauty, known to some as either the JAMS, the Timelords, or the Justified Ancients of Mu Mu, were part of the acid house wave of the late 1990s.

Even the most cursory glance at their discography would hint at the band’s apathy towards the music business. As the Timelords, their tongue-in-cheek mash-up of the Doctor Who theme tune, Gary Glitter’s ‘Rock and Roll’ with hints of The Sweet’s ‘Block Buster!’ sailed to number one in the UK and New Zealand charts. For all its commercial success, ‘Doctorin’ the Tardis’ was hardly intended to be taken seriously – and they then doubled down on the joke with their “how to have a number one” book, The Manual (How to Have a Number One the Easy Way).

The KLF were avant-garde, provocative, and never shy to sarcastically decry the state of the industry – and their Brit Awards performance was no exception. Initial plans for their final hurrah included throwing buckets of blood over the audience, which was quickly nixed. Somewhere along the line, the idea of disembowelling a dead sheep was also floated, much to the horror of BBC lawyers. That, and Extreme Noise Terror, the grindcore group that would appear alongside them during the show, were also vegetarian.

“The idea was that two-thirds of the way through the song, this altar would appear with the sheep on,” Drummond explained to the NME. “We’d bought the meat cleavers, the knives, the tablecloth, got everything. But of course, in the end, Extreme Noise Terror made it blatantly known that they were totally against the idea.”

But dietary choices and legal objections weren’t what convinced the duo it was a non-starter. Sheep were a long-time symbol of The KFL, and Drummond decided that massacring a sheep on stage was almost akin to suicide. The next logical step was, obviously, going to be cutting his own hand off with an axe.

What ensued was equally shocking, though. Drummond, donning a leather coat and hobbling around on crutches, launched into an atonal rendition of ‘3 a.m. Eternal’ in what has to have been the most chaotic performance in Brit Award history. “This is television freedom!” they cried, shortly before Drummond wielded a gun at the audience, who were likely so stunned by all the feedback and pyro they barely noticed.

“I get a machine gun,” he laughed during an interview with Louder Sound. “Smuggle that in! I machine gun the audience with blanks and walk away and just go, ‘Fuck you!’ and that was our exit from the music industry.” That was the final goodbye to the business, with their publicist ominously declaring: “The KLF have now left the music business”, as they slunk offstage.

The dead sheep they’d commandeered was chucked on the red carpet at the after-party. The message strapped to it read: “I died for you – bon appetite”.

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