Joe Jones (1934 in New York City – 1993 in Wiesbaden) was an American avant-garde musician associated with Fluxus especially known for his creation of rhythmic music machines.
Joe Jones grew up in Greenpoint, Brooklyn and received a classical musical education at Hartnett Music School in New York City. In the late 1950s he began a short career as a jazz drummer. In 1960 Jones began to study avant-garde experimental composition first briefly with John Cage and then Earle Brown. Through these associations he formed an artistic alliance with Dick Higgins, Alison Knowles and La Monte Young.
Jones first started experimenting with mechanical instruments in 1962, creating objects like musical boats, solar music umbrellas and a pedaled vehicle that pulled handmade instruments on wheels called "The Longest Pull Toy in the World". The following year his works were exhibited at the Betty Parsons Gallery in New York City.
Beginning in 1963 Jones participated in the Fluxus art movement, taking part in a number of Fluxus performance art activities with his automaton-like music machines - made from found ready-made instruments. In 1963 he performed his machinic noise music at the Yam festival in New Brunswick and a year later he performed again at the Avantgarde music festival in New York City. He created many machine drum exhibitions and art actions in New York City and Nice, France during this period.
In 1969 he opened his own "Music-Store" at 18 N. Moore Street in New York City. There he presented his repetitive drone music machines in the window so that anyone could press the numerous door buttons to play the machine noise music in the window. He also gave small musical installation performances by himself and musicians such as Yoko Ono and John Lennon, among others. After moving out of 18 N. Moore his store-loft space became the art studio of Fluxus archivist and digital artist Joseph Nechvatal, then the once Theatre of Eternal Music member Jon Hassell and finally video artist Bill Viola before being merged into Walkers Restaurant.
In 1971 Jones produced the album Fly together with John Lennon and Yoko Ono and founded the 'Fluxus-Airline' with George Maciunas. Jones made automated instruments for Yoko Ono's recordings "Don't Count The Waves", "You", and "Airmale" that appear on Fly and the Onobox. Photos of these automated instruments can be seen in the gatefold of Fly. Soon after Jones left New York for Europe; living in Amsterdam, Asolo, Berlin, Düsseldorf and finally Wiesbaden and continued to exhibit worldwide in galleries and museums.
Since the mid-eighties Jones produced short digital art films on computer that he called "Fluxus-Home-Movies". He also devised larger orchestra-like installations with his music machines called "solar orchestras" that would be performed from when the sun comes up to the sun goes down by solar power.
In 1988 his works could be seen at the Museum Ludwig in Cologne and in 1992-93 there was a big touring exhibition with stops in Helsinki, Nuremberg, Rotterdam and Wuppertal.
- Joe Jones, "Back and Forth, Exhibition Sound, 31.8.1985", Hundertmark Editions, CD, 60 Minutes, Edition of 500
- Joe Jones, "XYLOPHONE", Hundertmark Editions CD, Edition of 500 Copies
- Joe Jones, "Solar music at Sierksdorf, Ostsee", Hundertmark Editions, CD, 60 Minutes, Edition of 500
- Joe Jones, "Solar music, April 20, 1983", Hundertmark Editions CD, 60 Minutes, Edition of 500 Copies