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Building The People’s Pyramid – brick by brick

For the bargain price of £99, the duo formerly known as the KLF will bake 23g of your ashes into a brick, which will be used to construct the People’s Pyramid. Will Gimpertz reports on the annual bricklaying ceremony.

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Dan Dares Photography

Bill Drummond and Jimmy Cauty – also known as The KLF, The Timelords, The K Foundation, The Justified Ancients Of Mu Mu and The JAMs – have had a long and varied career in and out of the music industry, enough to base two movies on.

Chris Atkins’ Who Killed The KLF? tells the story of the duo’s brief stint as the best-selling singles band on the planet. Somewhat ironically, the James Corden-financed documentary may never see the light of day due to alleged copyright infringement on the part of the filmmakers.

Cauty and Drummond’s brush with the music industry lasted a little over five years, beginning with a mysterious, sample laden hip-hop record and finishing with a Brits Awards performance that climaxed with Drummond firing a machine gun over the heads of a bemused audience of pop stars and record company executives.

Paul Duane’s Welcome To The Dark Ages tells the story of what happened next. Under the guise of The K Foundation, Bill and Jimmy burned the remainder of their earnings from their pop careers on the Scottish island of Jura. It was a million pounds. People were either angry or indifferent.

After a few months of trying to find out why they did what they did, they decided that everyone needed to take some time to figure it out – and promptly disappeared.

For 23 years. Precisely.

At midnight on 23 August 2017, the KLF returned. They had written a book. Not an autobiography – a dystopian costume drama influenced by George Orwell, Robert Anton Wilson and the KLF’s own mythology. There was no new music, but over the next three days the real purpose of their return was revealed. They had a new career in mind: undertaking.

For the bargain price of £99, they will bake 23g of your ashes into a brick. Then every year, on 23 November, they will add your brick to the People’s Pyramid, a grand project expected to take generations to finally complete with the 34592nd brick. They call the process mumufication.

This year, taking a break from the usual location of Toxteth in Liverpool, the bricklaying ceremony took place in Buxton, once immortalised by The JAMs in the track ‘It’s Grim Up North’.

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Left to right: Bill Drummond, Bricklayer Daisy Campbell, Undertakers Claire Phillips-Callender and Ru Callender.

Dan Dares Photography

Beginning at 3pm at the Palace Hotel, Buxton’s shrine to faded glamour, more than 200 like-minded souls carefully processioned through the streets and parks of Buxton towards Poole’s Cavern, standing in this year for The Cavern in Liverpool, the birthplace of The Beatles – the only band to appear above The KLF in a 'greatest bands of all time list' published by The Times in 2014.

A 30-minute walk up through woods, accompanied by the gentle chimes of an impossibly placed ice cream van, revealed the stunning vista centres around Solomon’s Temple, transformed for one night only into the Temple Of Mu.

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Dan Dares Photography

Freshly-fired bricks were tenderly distributed to the dearly departed’s loved ones and then the procession continued down to this year’s mumufication site.

26 bricks were added this year, making a total so far of 35, approximately a thousandth of the number required to complete the People's Pyramid.

As each brick was ceremonially laid by The Bricklayer, Daisy Campbell, tributes were read out and friends and family said their goodbyes. The atmosphere was a respectful celebration of life and everyone in attendance came away deeply moved.

Learn more

The Toxteth Day Of The Dead will happen every year on 23 November until the People’s Pyramid is complete.

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