“Boyd Rice is one of the most influential and controversial figures of modern American counterculture,” begins Brian M. Clark’s Boyd Rice: A Biography. While that grandiose statement may oversell Rice’s cultural importance, it’s certainly true that Boyd Rice is a household name in a lot of weird households.
Rice is a prolific American sound experimentalist, author, artist, actor, archivist, and prankster. He also tends to be a polarizing figure in countercultural circles.
Boyd Rice a.k.a. “NON”—breaking records
I became familiar with Boyd Rice beginning in the late ‘80s and throughout the ‘90s. It seemed for a time that any esoteric interest I began exploring, Boyd Rice’s name would pop up as someone who had been there to document it or be associated with it first. My initial exposure to Rice was his work on the Incredibly Strange Films book released by RE/Search in 1985. In the late ‘80s, this was perhaps the most-thumbed reference book on my shelf. Rice turned up again on my radar in 1988 as a talking head on Geraldo Rivera’s sensationalist Exposing Satan’s Underground TV special. I was deeply interested in Satanism at the time, and here was Rice as one of its chief defenders and spokesmen. As I became interested in the bizarre records I was finding at thrift stores, particularly fake Hawaiian recordings, I began finding articles written by Rice about his love of “exotica” music. When RE/Search’s Pranks book came out, I became obsessed with that volume, particularly Rice’s chapter. I got the accompanying video as soon as it was released and found the interviews with Rice quite charming. Around this same time I was starting to get heavily into noise and industrial music and there was Rice too—at the forefront with his ground-breaking work as NON. And there was Rice on Current 93 records. And there was Rice in Lisa Carver’s fantastic Rollerderby magazine. And then there were the hysterical tapes of his appearances on evangelical minister Bob Larson’s radio call-in show, which were de rigueur tour van tapes while playing in bands in the ‘90s. Rice was seemingly everywhere, all over everything I found fascinating in the ‘90s—and he was always there a few years ahead of me as its champion. Who was this industrial man of mystery?
More on this contentious character after the jump…