Damo Suzuki, former vocalist of German art rock group Can, has died after a battle with colon cancer. He was 74.
Can’s official Instagram broke the news in a statement: “It is with great sadness that we have to announce the passing of our wonderful friend Damo Suzuki, yesterday, Friday 9th February 2024.
“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.
“He will be joining Michael, Jaki and Holger for a fantastic jam!
“Lots of love to his family and children.
“We will post funeral arrangements at a later date.”
Suzuki was born Kenji Suzuki on January 16, 1950 in Japan. He relocated to Europe and spent his teenage years busking, eventually encountering Can’s Holger Czukay and Jaki Liebezeit in Germany. Their previous vocalist, Malcolm Mooney, left the group after they recorded their first album, Monster Movie. They invited him to join their group, and he was performing with them that evening.
Suzuki recorded three full-length albums with Can: 1971’s Tago Mago, 1972’s Ege Bamyasi and 1973’s Future Days. He also recorded several songs that would end up on their 1970 studio compilation Soundtracks, which also featured songs with Mooney, as well as instrumentals.
Suzuki often improvised his lyrics, which had a free-associative, stream-of-consciousness sensibility, which matched the group’s own improvisation-heavy approach. In 1973, after Future Days, he left the band and took a hiatus from music, returning in 1983 with Damo Suzuki’s Network, an improvisational series of performances that featured collaborations with local musicians in the cities where he’d play.
Suzuki’s battle with cancer is documented in the 2022 documentary Energy. When he was first diagnosed, he was given a 10 percent chance of survival.
Jeff Terich is the founder and editor of Treble. He's been writing about music for 20 years and has been published at American Songwriter, Bandcamp Daily, Reverb, Spin, Stereogum, uDiscoverMusic, VinylMePlease and some others that he's forgetting right now. He's still not tired of it.