Big Day Out festival founder Ken West dies at 64


April 7, 2022

Big Day Out festival founder and creator Ken West has died in his sleep at the age of 64.

With his business partner Viv Lees, West produced the renowned touring festival, which debuted in Sydney in 1992 and went on to expand to Melbourne, Gold Coast, Adelaide and Perth in Australia, as well as Auckland in New Zealand.

Most recently staged in 2014, the festival welcomed artists such as Nirvana, Kanye West, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Foo Fighters, Muse, Metallica, Hole, the Ramones, Pearl Jam and Rage Against the Machine.


“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 7 April 2022,” says a statement from his family. “Our family would appreciate respect and privacy during this difficult time. Ken was big and noisy in life, but passed quietly and peacefully.”

West released an excerpt from his upcoming book in January this year to mark the 30th anniversary of the inaugural Big Day Out. Chapters of the book were released on his Kenfest website.

“I treat art as a living thing that constantly changes, he wrote on the site. “The people are the art as much as the artists are the people. I believe that the fact it is temporary makes it all the more important, not less.”

Veteran promoter Colleen Ironside described Ken as “A trailblazer and inspiration to so many people and the person who gave so many people and acts a chance… Another gone way too soon and a force in the industry whose vibe humor and talent will be greatly missed.”

West is survived by his wife Cathy and son Oliver.

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