Richard Duaine Lyons, a founding member of the experimental music collective Negativland, has died. He was 57 years old.
Lyons passed away on his birthday, April 19th, from complications due to nodular melanoma, a cancer he battled for more than 12 years. According to a post on Negativland’s official Facebook page, the cancer had recently returned and led to inoperable tumors on Lyons’ spine, liver, and brain. The post also claims that Lyons died “peacefully and pain free,” surrounded by other members of Negativland after a birthday party at his nursing facility, where he was receiving palliative care.
Lyons stayed prolific until the very end. According to the band, he spent his last days working on new handmade covers for a forthcoming reissue of Negativland’s 1980 debut LP. He was also interviewed for a documentary about the group, which is currently in production.
An insatiable musician and artist, Lyons was known by his pseudonyms and alter egos ranging from radio personality Dick Vaughn to preacher Pastor Dick. His numerous contributions to Negativland’s legacy include finding the Estus W. Pirkle LP sampled in the band’s infamous 1987 “Christianity Is Stupid” track. Lyons was also responsible for issuing a fake press release claiming that the song had played a role in 16-year-old David Brom’s real-life axe murder of his Rochester, Minnesota family.
In 2001, Lyons led a memorably disastrous radio broadcast from a Walnut Creek bowling alley (later released on CD as Ultimate Pinsmack), and he took the wrecking yard photos that inspired the 2002 Negativland album Deathsentences of the Polished and Structurally Weak.
Born in 1959 in Castro Valley, California, Lyons is the third member of Negativland to die in the past year alone. Don Joyce and former member Ian Allen also passed away recently. Despite this, Negativland will move forward with plans for a series of live performances in May as well as “a trio of forthcoming album projects.”
Lyons is survived by his mother and sister.
Read the band’s full Facebook post below:
“Christianity Is Stupid”: