Don Joyce, member of the experimental “culture jammers” known as Negativland, has died at the age of 71. The band’s de facto vocalist, Joyce passed away in Oakland, California due to heart failure.
When a mutual friend and band member, Ian Allen, brought Negativland into Joyce’s radio studio one day, they took over his radio show. Joyce was so impressed by their antics and creativity that he ended up joining the band. It was Joyce who helped birth the idea of repurposing found audio, long before hip-hop or electronics producers would trade in sampling. He would cut up and edit audio snippets alongside his own yelps and yells, creating what was essentially the voice of the band.
“Don Joyce’s singular editing style was laced with profundity and silliness in equal measure,” the band wrote in a Facebook post announcing Joyce’s death. “His work was that of a dada humanist, able to wring unforgettable sentiments and statements out of material which originally spoke something entirely different. Hugely inspired by both the droll radio of Bob and Ray and the reckless free-form of the Firesign Theatre, he created a wicked language of repurposed purple prose which has inspired legions of other collage artists over the past three decades. He was the father of the form.”
Joyce is the second member of Negativland to pass away this year; Ian Allen died in January follow complications from heart valve surgery. Despite their losses, Negativland is determined to carry on. They promise “two nearly-completed albums” are in the works, with the possibility of more live shows.
Below, read the band’s entire message from Facebook, followed by some samples of the band’s work.