Negativland’s Don Joyce Dies At 71

Don Joyce, a member of pioneering sound-sampling group Negativland,  died of heart failure in Oakland, Calif., July 22. He was 71.

Photo: KPFA / Derk Richardson
in an undated photo.

Joyce was a DJ at Berkeley public radio station KPFA when he first got involved with Negativland and inserted fragments of spoken word, “found sound” recordings into the band’s songs. The band attributes Joyce as originating the phrase “cultural jamming,” reports Rolling Stone.

The band famously took on U2 when the latter’s Island Records label filed a lawsuit over Negativland’s 1991 U2 EP  The cover included the title prominently displayed while “Negativland” occupied a much smaller space.  The disc featured a parody of “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” along with samplings from the original U2 hit.  Another song sampled a famous off-air rant by “American Top 40” host Casey Kasem.

In an interview with magazine Mondo 2000, U2’s The Edge suddenly found that the two people asking him questions were Negativland’s Joyce and Mark Hosler.  The Edge quickly disassociated U2 from the label’s lawsuit.

“I think we would have reacted in a different way, but the lawsuit was not our lawsuit,” The Edge told Joyce and Hosler.  “Although we have some influence, we weren’t in a position to tell Island Records what to do.”

You can read more about the life and times of Donald Joyce at the official Negativland website.