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The Justified Ancients of Mu Mu

The Justified Ancients of Mu Mu is one of the two protagonist 'secret societies' in the "Illuminatus" series of books by Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson. In the books, The JAMs are in a seemingly endless struggle for control of human culture, government and power with their enemies, the Illuminati. Whereas the Illuminati's tactics are to restrict, govern, control the populace, The JAMs aim is to bring about anarchy and an end to any possibility of ultimate control.

In 1987, Bill Drummond and Jimmy Cauty, fans of the books, would adopt the name for their intended attack on the institution of the music industry in the UK, mirroring the (fictional) JAMs' gleeful political tactics of causing chaos and confusion by bringing a direct, humorous but nevertheless revolutionary approach to making records. The JAMs' primary instrument was the newly invented digital sampler, with which they would plagiarise the history of popular music, cutting chunks from existing works and pasting them into new contexts. An early and seminal influence in the development of sampling music in the United Kingdom, The JAMs notoriously and wilfully ran afoul of copyright laws when they sampled large portions of the ABBA single "Dancing Queen". After a legal showdown, their debut album "1987- What The Fuck Is Going On?" had to be withdrawn from sale and destroyed. This only served Drummond & Cauty's legendary aspirations and after successive name changes and a plethora of highly-influential dance records, they would ultimately become, as The KLF the biggest selling singles act in the world, still incorporating the work of other artists in less gratuitous ways and, in the main, without legal problems.

The JAMs are associated with the cultural movement which has come to be termed Samplism and which retrospectively bundles together those literary and artistic works which make use of what could be termed 'creative plagiarism'. Other luminous figures claimed unilaterally by the Samplists as 'members' of their movement include writers William Burroughs, T.S.Eliot, Michael Moorcock, artists Pablo Picasso and Georges Braques, the video-sampling pioneers, Michael K, X$X, Emergency Broadcast Network and a host of musicians ranging from Beethoven through John Cage, Philip Glass, The Beatles to the more obvious contemporary hip-hop and dance acts.