Daniel Keighley, Sweetwaters promoter, died at 62

  Dead Famous

Daniel Keighley, Born in 1953 and died September 17, 2015 of cancer, he was a New Zealand music festival promoter (Sweetwaters) and band manager (The Mutton Birds.

He has been praised for his many good works, including his involvement as event manager for the Parihaka International Peace Festival in Taranaki and his work as elected chair of Access Radio Stations of Aotearoa in 2013.

Daniel also managed bands such as the Muttonbirds – including during their time in the UK – and guitarist Andrew White.

Some, however, will remember him for the financial disaster surrounding the 1999 comeback festival.

Daniel was a director of five of the Sweetwaters music festivals, which were held at Ngaruawahia and Pukekawa between 1980 and 1984.

But an attempt to bring the festival back in 1999 failed financially. It left Daniel bankrupt and owing about $2.7 million. He was ultimately jailed for fraud in 2000.

The 1999 festival was billed as the biggest of its kind ever held in New Zealand and featured world renowned artists such as Elvis Costello, Amazing Rythym Aces, UB40, Men at Work, the Stranglers and Donovan.

It was reportedly extremely well organised and an attempt at a more sophisticated, less alcohol-soaked festival, aimed at an older demographic. But in the end the numbers didn’t stack up and many creditors were left out of pocket.

Long time friend Radio New Zealand music producer Trevor Reekie, said although the last festival turned out to be a fiasco, it would be a shame if Daniel was remembered for that as he had a lot of other notable achievements.

“He was a guy who had a heart of gold,” he said. “He was generally a benefactor in many ways. He was a family man who was committed to a lot of good causes.”

Daniel’s book Sweetwaters: The Untold Story, was published in 2005. As well as detailing what went wrong with the festival, it covers his life in the music business and the behind-the-scenes battles at the festivals.

Reekie said Daniel was well respected among New Zealand’s music fraternity.

“He was an extraordinarily kind man, an exceptionally good friend, and I admired him a lot.”