This year's Bonnaroo lineup had some big gets — Elton John, Jack White, Lionel Richie. But no inclusion on the list of artists announced Wednesday was more surprising than Kanye West.
In 2008, the rapper played a disastrous late-night show at the Manchester, Tenn., festival that began at 4:30 a.m., following a headlining Pearl Jam set that ran longer than anticipated and problems setting up his elaborate production. By the time West took the stage hours after his originally scheduled time, the crowd had grown angry, throwing bottles, glow sticks and other debris, making the stage slick and breaking lights on the back of his set.
Days later, West took to his blog with an all-caps, expletive-laced rant that would have irrevocably burned most bridges.
"This Bonnaroo thing is the worst insult I've ever had in my life," he wrote. "This is the most offended I've ever been ... this is the maddest I ever will be." He also called the event's organizers "squid brains" and "idiots who didn't really have the capacity to really put on this show properly."
Behind the scenes, though, Bonnaroo organizers have been working with West's team for more than a year to bring him back for what's could be viewed as a make-good by both sides.
"It was six years ago; nobody wants to belabor the past," Bonnaroo co-founder and AC Entertainment president Ashley Capps said Thursday. "Kanye's one of the major acts of our time; we're one of the great festivals of our time. We want to work together. We're excited to welcome him back."
This year, West has the best-case scenario: He'll be the biggest act playing the main stage that day, with hours before him to set up and no limit on his set time.
"He's headlining and can deliver his full show," Capps says. "That's what we want from our headliners."