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Music

Ken West, the founder of Big Day Out, has passed away

Ken West, the enigmatic co-founder of the legendary Australian festival Big Day Out, has passed away aged 64. 

The news was confirmed by his family n a statement, as reported by Double JIt says: “We bring unfortunate news that Ken West; a father, husband, mentor and most of all a legend, has passed away peacefully in his sleep on the morning of April 7 2022. Our family would appreciate respect and privacy during this difficult time. Ken was big and noisy in life, but passed quietly and peacefully.”

Big Day Out was created in 1992 by West and Vivian Lees as a one-off in Melbourne. However, the following year, the event expanded to Adelaide and Perth, and then in 1994, The Gold Coast and Auckland were added to what had quickly become one of the world’s greatest festivals. 

The touring festival ran every year until 2014, with the exception of 1998, when it had a year off. That year had a stellar bill, with performances from Soundgarden, The Prodigy, Arctic Monkeys, M.I.A., Rage Against the Machine, Metallica, Foo Fighters and Red Hot Chili Peppers, to name just a handful. 

At the time of his death, West was writing a book entitled Controlled Kaos about the festival, which was set to be released later this year. Back in January, he stoked up the excitement as he shared some of the chapters on his website, Kenfest. Interestingly, the book takes its name from Big Day Out’s initial working title. 

“The Big Day Out for me was life-changing, and the first six years were the heart and soul of a great adventure. A different world, innocent, dangerous, optimistic and a lot of fun,” West explained.

He continued: “The complete book itself is written, however with thousands of photos, artwork and documents to integrate it is constantly evolving,” he added. “As for the E-book, that’s another story. Hopefully at least one will be available by the end of the year. I will let you know, when I know.”

The partnership between West and Lees ended in 2011, and from then on, West partnered with C3 Presents, the American company behind Lollapalooza. However, in 2014, C3 announced to widespread shock that Big Day Out would not be returning. They said in a statement at the time: “While we intend to bring back the festival in future years, we can confirm there will not be a Big Day Out in 2015”.

Read a variety of tributes to Ken West below:

Watch Ken West in an interview below.