Richard Lyons (musician)

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Richard Lyons
Born(1959-04-19)April 19, 1959
DiedApril 19, 2016(2016-04-19) (aged 57)
Known forNegativland

Richard Lyons (April 19, 1959 – April 19, 2016) was an American musician, best known for being one of the founding members of the experimental music band Negativland.[1] His personas in the band included Dick Vaughn, 5-time CalPi Award winner; auto trivia expert Dick Goodbody, and Pastor Richard Seeland, an ordained minister.

While looking through used records in a thrift store in the mid 1980s, Lyons discovered a 1968 LP by Baptist preacher Estus Pirkle entitled If Footmen Tire You, What Will Horses Do? Lyons was intrigued by the LP and brought it to the other members of Negativland. They sampled phrases and rearranged words from Pirkle's sermon to create the song "Christianity Is Stupid" which was released on their 1987 album Escape From Noise. Another song from Escape From Noise, "Nesbitt's Lime Soda Song", was composed and sung by Lyons.

In 1988, Richard Lyons masterminded a hoaxed press release that claimed the Negativland song "Christianity Is Stupid" had inspired 16-year-old David Brom to murder his entire immediate family. It also claimed that Negativland had been "advised by Federal official Dick Jordan not to leave town pending an investigation into the Brom murders". Lyons came up with the idea for the press release when Negativland could not afford to go on tour in support of Escape From Noise. Lyons prepared the phony press release and mailed it out to various news outlets, many of whom took it at face value. The hoax received widespread media coverage, inspiring Negativland's next album Helter Stupid.[2][3]

After taking a brief hiatus from the group, Lyons composed and sang several songs on Negativland's 1997 album Dispepsi, including "Happy Hero" and "The Greatest Taste Around". He also created an art piece using letters found in junkyard cars. He compiled and arranged the found letters with photographs of the wrecked cars, to create a Xeroxed book that he distributed to friends. Lyons recorded a segment about his book for an episode of This American Life entitled "Other People's Mail".[4] In 2002, the book was released by Negativland with an accompanying soundtrack CD as Deathsentences of the Polished and Structurally Weak.[5]

Lyons traveled with the band during its "True or False" tour, doing a mid-show version of "Pastor Dick's Treehouse".[6]


Richard Lyons died on his 57th birthday, April 19, 2016, from complications of nodular melanoma.[7][8]


  1. ^ Raggett, Ned. "Biography: Negativland". Allmusic. Retrieved 21 September 2010. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  2. ^ Baise, Greg. "Guerilla culture-jam | Local Music | Detroit Metro Times". Retrieved 2016-04-27. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  3. ^ "FEED ON MY CONTENT, episode #82 of The Fogelnest Files with Jake Fogelnest on Earwolf". 2014-03-20. Retrieved 2016-04-27. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  4. ^ "70: Other People's Mail". 1997-07-25. Retrieved 2016-04-27. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  5. ^ "Trip Magazine Interview". Retrieved 2016-04-27. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  6. ^ "Negativland Review". Splendid Magazine. September 19, 2002. Retrieved October 1, 2012. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  7. ^ "Negativland - CANCER IS STUPID Richard Duaine Lyons, a..." Facebook. Retrieved 2016-04-27. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  8. ^ Ratliff, Ben (27 April 2016). "Richard Lyons, 57, a Founder of the Subversive Band Negativland, Dies". New York Times. Retrieved 11 July 2016. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)