Negativland Leader Don Joyce Dies at 71
Don Joyce, the lead vocalist for experimental San Francisco collective Negativland, has passed away at the age of 71. He died on Wednesday (July 22) of heart failure in Oakland, California.
Joyce played a key role in the band ever since bandmate Ian Allen -- who died earlier this year due to complications from heart valve surgery at 56 -- connected Joyce with the rest of Negativland during his radio program at Berkeley’s KPFA FM. A statement posted to the band’s Facebook recounts that introduction:
Don was a DJ at the station when a mutual friend, Ian Allen (who died this past January) introduced him to a group of Contra Costa County noise/music artists called Negativland, who entered the station one night, armed with stacks of recordings and electronic gear, and immediately transformed Don’s "normal music show" into a free-form collage sound odyssey, totally blowing open Don’s idea of what a radio program could be and what a DJ could "do."
Negativland built their career on found objects and sounds, which was notably realized on the band’s 1987 album, Escape From Noise. It was a creative process Joyce spearheaded and effectively laid way for sampling:
“It was Don who took the idea of reshaping previously recorded words -- in a pre-sampling age -- and ran with it to an extent and depth never before heard, and never equalled. "Recontextualization" became his weapon, with the 1/4” tape machine and razor blade his ammunition, and the radio "cart player" -- an entirely forgotten piece of broadcast history using endless-loop tape cartridges, which he used until he death -- his delivery system.”
Joyce stopped touring with Negativland in 2010 but encouraged the band to carry on without him. Read Negativland’s entire statement on Joyce’s passing here, and watch this interview with Joyce from 2000 below: