Tributes paid after Can legend Damo Suzuki dies, aged 74


Tributes have been paid to Can icon Damo Suzuki, after it was announced that the influential vocalist and musician had passed away at the age of 74.

The experimental artist died after a long battle with colon cancer, having been diagnosed in 2014 when he was given a 10 per cent chance of survival.

“It is with great sadness that we have to announce the passing of our wonderful friend Damo Suzuki, yesterday, Friday 9 February 2024,” Can’s Instagram account posted.

“His boundless creative energy has touched so many over the whole world, not just with Can, but also with his all continent spanning Network Tour. Damo’s kind soul and cheeky smile will be forever missed.”

Paying tribute to past members of the art-rock collective, they wrote: “He will be joining Michael, Jaki and Holger for a fantastic jam!”

The message ended: “Lots of love to his family and children. We will post funeral arrangements at a later date.”

The social media account for Energy, an acclaimed 2022 documentary about Suzuki wrote that he was “a life force that will be missed by many”.

“Lost for words. Damo forever. Sending strength, love and condolences to the family and loved ones.”

Born in Japan on January 16, 1950, Suzuki later spent his teenage years busking around Europe where he developed his experimental vocal style. It was busking that led him to join Can when Holger Czukay and Jaki Liebezeit found him playing outside a Munich café. He played with the band that night and improvised much of the performance.

Due to his game-changing and genre-smashing approach, Suzuki’s time with the band is known as their creative peak, particularly 1971’s ‘Tago Mago’ – regarded as one of the best albums of all time. He left Can after the recording of their 1973 album ‘Future Days’ to marry his girlfriend and became a Jehovah’s Witness.

In 1983, he returned to music, touring and recording as Damo Suzuki’s Network.

Damo Suzuk, 2018 in Munich, Germany. (Photo by Vincenzo Buscemi/Getty Images)
Damo Suzuk, 2018 in Munich, Germany. (Photo by Vincenzo Buscemi/Getty Images)

Renowned for his improvisational style, Suzuki performed into his final years – as well as collaborating with the likes of Mogwai, Bo Ningen, Black Midi and many more.

Mogwai’s Stuart Braithwaite took to Instagram to pay tribute, writing: “Rest in peace Damo Suzuki. One of the greatest rock and roll singers of all time. When Barry [Burns, guitarist] and me played with him it was one of the greatest experiences of my life.”

Bo Ningen thanked Suzuki for the “countless memories”, adding: “Arigato for guiding us through.”

Tom Skinner, of The Smile and Sons Of Kemet, also said that sharing the stage with Suzuki was “an unforgettable experience” while hailing him as “an incredible human being”.

The CharlatansTim Burgess posted “thank you and farewell” in Japanese, while post-hardcore legends American Football wrote: “RIP Damo Suzuki. His music with CAN had a huge influence on us, and seeing our friends in Defender back him up in 2003 at the Fireside Bowl in Chicago is still among the greatest shows I’ve ever seen.”

Can, from left to right; Holger Czukay, Michael Karoli, Damo Suzuki, Irmidt Schmidt and Jaki Leibzeit, during the ‘Tago Mago’ period. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)

Geoff Barrow, of Portishead and Beak>, hailed Suzuki as “a true creative genius”, and “quite easily the Band with the biggest influence on me”.

“It’s quite easy to hear their influence in many other bands also like Blur,Radiohead and many many others,” he continued. “Damo’s Vocals were like none other, his melodies and lyrics came from somewhere else in between blues and traditional folk and pure noise and rhythmic energy.

“Obviously he will be missed like the rest of the band who have passed away but what a legacy to leave by musically influencing so so many people.”

See more tributes to Suzuki below:

Suzuki found further fame when The Fall’s 1985 album ‘This Nation’s Saving Grace’ contained the song ‘I Am Damo Suzuki’ inspired by the singer’ while ’00s garage band The Mooney Suzuki also took their name from the singer and Can’s earlier vocalist Malcolm Mooney.

Damo Suzuki performing at All Tomorrow's Parties, Nightmare Before Xmas (ATP) on December 9, 2007, in Minehead, England. (Photo by Stefan Jeremiah/WireImage)
Damo Suzuki performing at All Tomorrow’s Parties, Nightmare Before Xmas (ATP) on December 9, 2007, in Minehead, England. (Photo by Stefan Jeremiah/WireImage)

‘Can Live In Paris 1973’ is set for release on February 23, in the first of the Can Live series to feature Suzuki on vocals.

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