Six months after the loss of Negativland’s Ian Allen at age 56, the experimental San Francisco outfit has lost another member. Don Joyce passed away at 71, according to a post on the band’s Facebook page. Joyce died of heart failure in Oakland, CA.
Describing Negativland as “culture jammers,” Joyce helped create music made out of re-appropriated material years before electronic and rap producers started doing the same. Although they never came anywhere close to mainstream success, the group’s sonic collage proved incalculably influential and ahead of its time.
“In Don Joyce. Negativland had found its “lead vocalist” without even realizing they were looking for one,” the band wrote of his pivotal role on Facebook. “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.
“When he and Negativland discovered their mutual love for “found” sounds, an intensely collaborative creative partnership was cemented. It continued non-stop for the ensuing decades, with Don endlessly scanning the airwaves of radio and television, along with his massive LP collection, for new material, day by day, week by week.”
The band goes on to share details of the man behind the uncompromising sounds: “He was also an animal lover, a Bob Dylan fanatic, a staunch atheist, a convicted (but never jailed) draft dodger, and slept with the radio on.”
Joyce stopped touring with the group in 2010, but made it clear he wanted them to continue without him. Listen to “Escape From Noise” below.