The KLF vocalist Wanda Dee has blasted Bill Drummond and Jimmy Cauty for their infamous burning of £1 million, calling it “disrespectful.”
It’s 30 years since the rave agitators allegedly burnt the cash – the amount of money earned by them as The KLF – on Jura’s Ardfin Estate.
While the prank on August 23, 1994, was documented and released as a film, Watch The K Foundation Burn A Million Quid, many didn’t believe they did it.
But Wanda is sure they did and is appalled they didn’t use the money for better purposes than an artistic two fingers to the music industry.
The New York rapper, 60, whose vocals were sampled for the 90s group’s hits What Time Is Love? and Last Train To Trancentral has been touring for over 30 years as The KLF after the duo refused to play live.
She will perform The KLF’s debut Scottish show at Stereofunk in May at Hamilton’s Chatelherault Country Park.
The KLF burn £1m
She said: “Never in a million years would I burn a million pounds when hard-working people are struggling to make ends meet!
“It was disrespectful to burn money – in this day and age or back then.
“Look around you, in any country in the world, you don’t have to look far to find poverty, people starving, unable to pay for basic essentials like shelter, food, transportation, indoor plumbing, clothing, fresh water, etc.
“As creative and kindhearted as Bill and Jimmy are, they very easily could have come up with no less than a thousand ways to part with a million pounds and still thumb their proverbial noses into the face of the ‘establishment’.”
Bill, 70 –who was born in South Africa and lived in Newton Stewart, Dumfries and Galloway, moving aged 11 to Northamptonshire – and English musician Jimmy, 67, had a number one with Doctorin’ The Tardis as The Timelords before dominating the charts in the early 90s with a string of hits including 3am Eternal, Last Train To Trancentral and Justified And Ancient which featured country superstar Tammy Wynette.
In 1991, they became the biggest-selling act in the world but retired after a performance at the 1992 Brit Awards where Drummond fired blanks from a gun over the heads of the audience and a dead sheep was left at an afterparty from the event with a message: “I died for you – bon appetit”. They established art foundation the K Foundation and burned what was left of their KLF earnings – over £2.3m in today’s money.
They also deleted their entire back catalogue and only added their music to streaming platforms in 2021.
Drummond has since admitted he regrets doing it.
Wanda, born Lawanda McFarland, was the first female hip hop DJ in the 70s before turning to rapping in the 80s.
She said: “I 100% believe they truly burned a million pounds.
“Money has never been their main motivation to do anything – if it was, we’d have all embarked out on tour together over three decades ago, playing stadiums together for seven figures a night!
“Bill and Jimmy deleted and abandoned their back catalogue for public consumption, all of these aforementioned acts of anti-establishment and anti-commercialism clearly attests to individuals that would surely burn a million pounds and think nothing of it.”
Looking back, Wanda thinks they could have done better things with the money rather than burn it, including holding a gig and giving £100 to everyone in the audience, go round the UK in their ice cream van handing out £1,000 in poor neighbourhoods or pick charities and gift them £100,000.
She added: “You get my drift.
“Anything’s far better than burning hard-earned and much-needed money! If you don’t care for it, then give it to someone who cares.”
Keeping the KLF alive
Wanda feels she has been KLF for the past 30 years – keeping the music alive around the world for fans who haven’t been able to buy it until recently. The duo issued a statement in 2004 dismissing anyone representing to be The KLF.
While she accepts it was Bill and Jimmy who created the songs, they used her music and she feels she’s as much part of the end product as they are.
At the height of their fame, they refused to tour despite huge success in America.
After legendary Arista Records president Clive Davis was knocked back after begging the duo to tour, he turned to Wanda.
They used her vocals on To The Bone and she gets royalties and co-writing credits on the American release of The White Room.
For two years from 1992 she performed in 150 cities and 90 countries and has continued to tour all around the world – although this year’s show in Scotland will be the first time The KLF will have performed in the country where Drummond spent his childhood.
Many fans are angry Wanda has used the duo’s name but she hits back. She said: “Clive Davis begged Bill and Jimmy to tour the world and they flat- out refused – even with tens of millions of dollars being dangled about. He turned to me, and I’ve been on the job ever since.
“This is why I laugh out loud when the self-appointed and self-anointed KLF purists waste their time trolling me online to express their ‘outrage’ over my touring The KLF live show, when their precious Bill and Jimmy flat-out refused to do so.
“What are you hating on me for? World touring is hard work and requires discipline and these chaps were just not up for it, then or now!”
Wanda admitted she has no contact with Bill and Jimmy but wishes them the best. She said: “We have no problems with Bill and Jimmy and make sure to thank them at every show as we will also respectfully do in Scotland.
“I’m sure their accountants thank us every quarter that their massive royalties hit their accounts by and large due to my touring for the past 33 years of keeping The KLF mystery, mastery and music alive for generations past and present!”
The Stereofunk Festival, which will also feature Vengaboys, Snap! and Dave Pearce, will see a KLF show which includes her producer husband Eric Floyd and their only son sIAMeze who will open the KLF part of the show.
Stereofunk is on May 4 at Chatelherault Country Park, Hamilton stereofunkfestival.co.uk
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