Former punk rock band manager, writer, and rabble-rouser Ken Lester dies

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      A former manager of the legendary Vancouver punk band D.O.A. has died at the age of 71.

      The news of Ken Lester's passing came in a post by musician and painter Jean Smith on her Facebook page. Smith is a member of the Vancouver band Mecca Normal with Lester's brother David.

      D.O.A. hired Lester in 1979 after the band went on its first North American tour. He parted ways with the band in 1988, according to frontman Joe Keithley's 2003 memoir, I, Shithead: A Life in Punk.

      In 2015, Keithley told Straight contributor Allan MacInnis that it was Lester's idea to put the famous image of Margaret Trudeau going commando on the cover of the band's 1978 EP, Triumph of the Ignoroids.

      According to Keithley, this "was Ken Lester's idea of how to make an outrageous cover. He certainly succeeded, for the times."

      This photo of Ken Lester was taken when he was 33 years old and working as D.O.A.'s manager.
      Rose Kapp

      Keithley shared another amusing tale about Lester on the Sudden Death records website in a eulogy to fellow bandmate Randy Rampage.

      "On a tour through the Midwest our manager Ken Lester had brought along his motorcycle to get ahead of the shows and help the promo," Keithley wrote. "Well Ken got tired of riding his bike, so Randy took over, I was driving along and I lost sight of Randy, who was behind me on the bike.

      "All of a sudden Randy came up into sight in my rear view mirror, he was blazing maybe about 80 miles an hour and not wearing a helmet. I soon realized as he got closer that he was standing on the seat of the Kawasaki and crouched over with his hand on the throttle," the D.O.A. frontman turned Burnaby councillor added. "We all started pissing ourselves laughing, except for Lester, who said 'My bike, my bike!' Randy pulled up level even with me in the fast lane and said 'Hey Joe, grab me a beer!' I said sure.

      "So our roadie Bob Montgomery (Chuck and Dimwit’s brother) handed me a beer, so as I am driving 60 MPH, I hand Randy the beer as Lester is grabbing my arm screaming and trying to stop me, Randy got the beer and hit the throttle and blazed ahead of us and out of sight."

      Prior to managing the band, Lester worked for the Georgia Straight.

      He was also an organizer of a peaceful 1971 marijuana protest that erupted into the Gastown Riot when police on arrived on horseback.

      "When Straight contributors Kenneth Lester and Eric Sommer were subpoenaed to testify at the inquiry into the riot, they refused to reveal their sources—and, reluctantly, the judge upheld their rights," Alexander Varty wrote in the Straight in 2011. "The freedoms we enjoy today really are rooted in the battles of the past."

      Lester also organized an Anti-Canada Day concert July 1, 1978, which was later covered by Vancouver Sun writer John Mackie. And in 1986, Lester created an EP called Expo Hurts Everyone, which included a D.O.A. song called "Billy and the Socreds".

      Four years later, Zale Dalen's 1990 cult film, Terminal City Ricochet, was released, featuring Jello Biafara, Peter Breck, Germain Houde, and Gabe Kouth. Lester was one of the five writers.

      Keithley and former wrestling star Gene Kiniski also appeared in the film as cops.


      You can read what David Lester wrote about his brother Ken in this obituary.