Unfortunately, the talented Japanese vocalist, Damo Suzuki, known for his contributions to the innovative krautrock band, Can, has passed away at the age of 74.
Suzuki’s passing was announced on Saturday afternoon through a post on Can’s Instagram account. Though the exact cause of death was not revealed, the musician from Cologne had been battling colon cancer since 2014, when he was first diagnosed with the illness 30 years prior.
“We are deeply saddened to inform you that our dear friend Damo Suzuki passed away yesterday, February 9th, 2024,” read the statement on Can’s social media account.
“His endless source of creative inspiration has impacted countless individuals worldwide, not only through Can, but also through his Network Tour that spanned across continents. Damo’s generous spirit and mischievous grin will be greatly missed.”
“It was announced that he will be joining Michael, Jaki, and Holger for an amazing jam!” Unfortunately, Jaki Liebezeit, Holger Czukay, and guitarist Michael Karoli have all passed away before Suzuki.
The singer, originally named Kenji Suzuki, was born in Kanagawa prefecture located south of Tokyo. As a teenager, he left Japan to explore Europe and reside in hippie communities. In 1970, two of Can’s founding members, Czukay and Liebezeit, discovered Suzuki performing as a street musician in Munich’s artistic Schwabing neighborhood. They immediately hired him to play at their first concert that same night.
In a 2018 interview with Süddeutsche Zeitung, he remembered, “The band didn’t give me any instructions. I was simply supposed to go on stage and improvise.”
Can’s sound was characterized by a unique improvisational singing style that incorporated a blend of English, Japanese, and invented languages.
From 1970 to 1973, he guided the band to its undeniable pinnacle, releasing three daring and groundbreaking albums that have become integral to the 20th-century rock legacy: Tago Mago, Ege Bamyasi, and Future Days. Artists such as David Bowie, Radiohead, and Talking Heads have all acknowledged the German band as a major source of inspiration.
Following his marriage and conversion to Jehova’s Witnesses, Suzuki departed from Can in 1973. He then reemerged in the 1980s with various new band ventures, such as his own band, Damo Suzuki Band, and a record label called Damo’s Net Work.
A documentary released in 2022 revealed that Suzuki was initially diagnosed with cancer at the age of 33 and was given a 10% chance of survival when he was diagnosed with colon cancer in 2014.