Goodbye to Damo Suzuki, historic singer of Can

Goodbye to Damo Suzuki, historic singer of Can

Damo Suzuki, historic singer of Can, has passed away at the age of 74. The cause of the death of the artist, who had been diagnosed with colon cancer, has not yet been made known. The sad news was given yesterday, February 10, by the Spoon Records label: “It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of our wonderful friend Damo Suzuki, which occurred yesterday, Friday February 9, 2024″, we read in the note shared on social media: ” His boundless creative energy touched so many people around the world, not only with Can, but also with his worldwide Network Tour. Damo’s kind soul and cheeky smile will be forever missed. He will be joined by Michael, Jaki and Holger for a great jam!”.

Born on January 16, 1950 in Japan, Kenji Suzuki, later known as Damo Suzuki, spent his adolescence touring Europe and playing as a busker on city streets. In Munich he was noticed by Jake Liebezeit and Holger Czukay of Can – the kings of krautrock formed in Cologne (Germany) in 1968 – who decided to enlist him in the group to replace Malcolm Mooney. “Damo was a different kind of singer,” Holger Czukay once reflected: “and so the group achieved the necessary stability.”

Suzuki’s first concert with Can took place the same night they met him. In his ‘Short History Of Can’ Czukay reports how things went: “I went up to Damo outside the bar and asked him if he was free for the evening. I said, ‘We’re an experimental rock band and we have a concert tonight, Is it sold out.’ Damo said he had nothing special to do, so why not sing? The place was packed and Damo started humming like a meditating monk. Then, suddenly, he transformed into a fighting samurai. The audience was shocked and almost everyone left the room.”

Can in 1970 released the album “Soundtracks” where both Mooney and Suzuki sang. Then, their two most critically acclaimed works were released: “Tago Mago” (1971) and “Ege Bamyasi” (1972). The latter includes “Spoon”, a single which, surprisingly, rose to the top of the German charts. The subsequent albums, “Future Days” (1973) and “Soon Over Babaluma” (1974), were not as baffling as their predecessors, but they were certainly no less ambitious. “Future Days” is today considered one of the first examples of ambient music. Between the release of the two albums, ‘Damo’ Suzuki left Can to marry his German girlfriend and become a Jehovah’s Witness. Czukay compared Suzuki’s departure to “the feeling of a powerful punch hitting the stomach. We tried many other singers, but none of them suited us anymore. It was the end of an era.” For a couple of albums Karoli and Schmidt alternated at the microphone, for a short period even singer-songwriter Tim Hardin sang with them.

Damo Suzuki subsequently returned to music for various projects, including Damo Suzuki’s Network and Damo Suzuki Band. In addition to publishing the biographical book “I Am Damo Suzuki” with Paul Woods in 2019, he developed a strong bond with Italy and in 2011 he released the album “Seven ways to save Rome”, the result of a series of concerts in the Peninsula with Manuel Agnelli, Xabier Iriondo, Erico Gabrielli and Cristiano Calgagnile.