Larry Harvey, who began the Burning Man tradition in 1986 when he and a group of friends set fire to an oversized wooden man on a beach near San Francisco, passed away aged 70.

'The Man' is engulfed in flames as approximately 70,000 people from all over the world gathered for the annual Burning Man arts and music festival in the Black Rock Desert of Nevada, US. September 2, 2017. (Reuters)
'The Man' is engulfed in flames as approximately 70,000 people from all over the world gathered for the annual Burning Man arts and music festival in the Black Rock Desert of Nevada, US. September 2, 2017. (Reuters) (Reuters)

Larry Harvey, the man who founded the popular Burning Man countercultural festival, died on Saturday after suffering a massive stroke in early April, event organisers said. He was 70.

Harvey died surrounded by family members at his San Francisco home, the official online Burning Man Journal said.

"Larry was a visionary, a mentor, a philosopher, and a passionate advocate for Burning Man's culture and principles," a statement on the website said. "The world has lost a great human being."

Harvey began the Burning Man tradition in 1986 when he and a group of friends set fire to an oversized wooden man on a beach near San Francisco.

It soon became a summer solstice ritual, and as the wooden effigy grew and the event attracted more people it moved in the 1990s to Nevada's Black Rock desert.

Today the multi-day annual Burning Man event, held in late August and early September, attracts tens of thousands of people and features interactive art exhibits as well as big-name music performers.

Participants create a city in the middle of the desert that is "a temporary metropolis dedicated to community, art, self-expression, and self-reliance," and end their weeklong gathering by burning a giant wooden statue of a man.

Harvey is survived by his son Tristan, his brother Stewart, "and a global community of devoted Burning Man participants inspired by his vision to build a more creative, cooperative, and generous world," the website said.

Source: AFP