The death of Casey Kasem on Sunday reminded different people of different things, from those long-distance dedications on “American Top 40” to his iconic voicing of Shaggy on “Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!” But for some of us, Kasem’s greatest achievement was his most unintentional: that in-studio meltdown sampled on Negativland’s notorious “U2” single.

Related: Negativland gives away ‘U2’ multi-track master, invites fans to remix infamous single

The experimental sound-collage outfit issued the single in the months leading up to the release of U2’s Achtung Baby, prompting Island Records to sue Negaitvland over the record’s cover — with a large “U2” emblazoned on the sleeve — and the song, which sampled “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For.”

The track itself is built around a studio tape of Kasem struggling to get through one of his famous long-distance dedications, this one involving “a little dog named Snuggles.” The beloved DJ veers far from his wholesome pop-radio image, declaring, “This is bullshit! Nobody cares! These guys are from England and who gives a shit! Just a lot of wasted names that don’t mean diddly shit.”

Negativland withdrew the single, later chronicling the controversy in a magazine/CD called “The Letter U and the Numeral 2” and the book “Fair Use: The Story of the Letter U and the Numeral 2.” The single would be re-released in 2001 as “These Guys Are From England and Who Gives a Shit.”

The battle over Negativland’s single shed important attention on fair use, copyright and sampling, perhaps not something mentioned much in this week’s farewells to the legendary radio voice — but an important, if inadvertent and unwanted, legacy nonetheless.

Below, you can listen to the infamous, and infamously profane, track.


Audio: Negativland, “U2”




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