Ohio Citizen Action

Cleveland music scene mourns Ken Janssen


CLEVELAND — “It wasn’t unexpected, but local musician/former Beachland booker/force of nature Ken Janssen didn’t live to see 2015, passing away on New Year’s Eve.

For the last two and a half years, Ken was battling amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, better known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, and he did so with the panache, humor and spirit with which he did everything.

He made his mark on the music scene first with punk rockers the It*Men and then with the aggressive Hot Rails, both affiliated with the so-called Davenport Collective of musicians, an intermingled group of players who populated (and still populate) dozens of the area’s most interesting bands.

He worked as a booker and sometime bartender at the Beachland Ballroom back in the late ’00s. But as the Waterloo area started to develop around the Beachland ,with programs to rehab homes to attract artists, musicians and other creative people, he decided he wanted to be part of that vision. He got his real estate license, left the Beachland in 2011 and went to work selling the neighborhood he’d fallen in love with so much he bought a house there. With his passion, energy and big heart, he was a perfect fit for the job.”

— Anastasia Pantsios, Cool Cleveland

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Ken was a phone canvasser from 2003 to 2004 and a long-time friend of the organization.