Damo Suzuki, Singer Who Ignited the Experimental Band Can, Dies at 74

Damo Suzuki, a Japanese vocalist best known for his role with the revered and influential German experimental rock group Can during its most crucial period, died on Feb. 9 at his home in Cologne, Germany. He was 74.

His death was announced by Can’s label, Spoon Records. No cause was given, but Mr. Suzuki had been diagnosed with colon cancer in 2014. Initially given a 10 percent chance of recovery, he endured more than 40 surgeries in the ensuing decade.

Mr. Suzuki was a free spirit who left Japan as a teenager for a nomadic life in Europe. His music ignored genre boundaries, and his singing often sounded like shamanic incantations in an invented language.

“If you’re a creative person,” he said in a 2013 interview with The Japan Times, “it’s important to break rules. If you’re in the middle of the system, you can’t create much. But if you’re on the outside, you can just avoid it, start from zero and make your own stuff with no influence at all.”

With Can, his enigmatic, sometimes indecipherable utterances wove through free-flowing grooves. His vocals could be as lilting as a lullaby — the Can guitarist Michael Karoli once called him a “loud whisperer” — or as startling as a shriek. In performance, while his bandmates concentrated on their instruments, Mr. Suzuki shimmied around the stage like a psychedelic imp, often barefoot and shirtless, his face hidden by an undulating mane of long black hair.

Mr. Suzuki in front of his fellow members of the German band Can in Hamburg in 1971. From left: Irmin Schmidt, Jaki Liebezeit, Michael Karoli, Uli Gerlach (the band’s tour manager) and Holger Czukay.Credit…Jacques Breuer/Picture-Alliance — Deutsche Presse-Agentur, via Associated Press

Related Articles

Back to top button