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Misandao frontman Lei Jun dies aged 40

The Beijing Oi! punk giant has died of a heart attack according to reports

Lei Jun, the former frontman of Oi! punk band Misandao and creator of the Beijing Punk Festival, died early this morning due to a sudden heart attack. He was 40 years old.

According to reports, the news was broken on Weibo by a user with the handle ‘在下张耀之’, who wrote: 'He was Lei Jun, he was my friend. He was one of Chinese punk's leaders. Early this morning, he died suddenly of a heart attack. Brother, have a smooth trip. We'll see you in hell.’

Among Chinese punk’s most famous faces, the Beijing-born Lei has long been synonymous with Oi! punk, which he helped pioneer in China when he formed his trailblazing band Misandao in 1999. With their bald heads, suspenders and Doc Marten boots, Misandao brought a degree of theatre and unity to China’s burgeoning punk scene, forming a tight-knit community that grew to include multiple bands and fans, all bound together with their fist-pumping Oi! anthems.

It was this kind of charisma that soon drew the attention of foreign media, leading to Misandao’s appearance in the documentaries Oi Skins in China and Beijing Punk, as well as countless articles. Within China, the band became best known outside the punk scene for their song 'Final Victory', which they wrote as an anthem for the Beijing Ducks.

Watch 'Final Victory'

Despite his magnetism, Lei was more than a figurehead – he was an active part of the local scene, who (in defiance of Oi! skinheads’ reputation for thuggery) became known for his outgoing, jovial demeanor and efforts at community-building.

This impulse came to fruition in 2004, when Lei started the Beijing Punk Festival, a yearly event that stretched until 2014, and brought together bands from across the country. Though some criticised the festival for its lack of inclusiveness (rifts in the punk scene reportedly led to certain bands being excluded) as well as growing commercialism, it remained one of China’s biggest and most important punk events of the year.

In 2012, after years of working in media, Lei and his wife started Noodle In, a Chinese-Western fusion restaurant on a hutong off Gulou Dong Dajie that soon became a hangout for fans and punk musicians alike.

‘It was my wife’s idea for me to open this restaurant,’ Lei told Time Out last summer. ‘I hadn’t been working much for the past couple of years, and I love to cook, so I thought: Why not?’ It offered Lei a chance to earn money outside of jobs that, he told us, had a habit of sucking his soul – media jobs where his editors asked him why he couldn't toe the Communist Party line.

Tragedy struck for Lei Jun in early spring of this year: in March, he confirmed that Misandao, after 15 years, had broken up, and that he would no longer be organising the Beijing Punk Festival. Yet the last time we saw Lei – at the Punk-It Spring Festival in April – he seemed in good spirits, and mentioned plans to move Noodle In to a new location.

There's no mention yet of a tribute show, but musicians and fans alike are already flooding Weibo with messages about his death. Subs frontwoman Kang Mao writes, 'It can't really be true! I refuse to believe it! I still feel like if I go to Gulou I'll be able to bump into him at the end of the hutong.'

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