Can Vocalist Damo Suzuki Has Died

The frontman of the influential German krautrock band was 74.

By Andy Kahn Feb 10, 2024 9:35 am PST

Damo Suzuki, lead singer of the influential German krautrock band Can, has died at age 74. No cause was given for Suzuki’s death on Friday, February 9, which was confirmed in a message shared by the band.

The statement from Can and its label Spoon Records read:

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 continents 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.

The statement referenced late Can members, guitarist Michael Karoli, drummer Jaki Liebezeit and bassist Holger Czukay.

Born Kenji Suzuki on January 16, 1950, in Kobe, Japan, by age 8 he had learned to play a flute given to him by his sister. Suzuki showed an early passion for classical music, but as a teen pursued an interest in R&B and rock ‘n’ roll that was becoming popular in the United States and Britain, taking a particular interest in The Kinks. At age 17, Suzuki left his home in Japan and began a journey across Europe, which saw him make his way through Denmark, France, England, and Ireland, as well as Sweden where he took up residence at a commune and started a folk duo).

In May 1970, while busking in Munich, Germany, Suzuki was spotted by Liebezeit and Czukay, who immediately asked him to join the band as a replacement for Can vocalist Malcolm Mooney. Suzuki appeared onstage with the krautrock pioneers that same night.

Joining Can as their new vocalist, Suzuki brought a new energy to the band’s sound. His improvisational approach to singing, characterized by wordless vocalizations and abstract melodies, became a defining element of Can’s music. Suzuki’s first appearance on a Can album was 1970’s Soundtracks.

During his brief tenure with Can, Suzuki contributed to a string of influential albums, including Tago Mago, Ege Bamyasi and Future Days. These records showcased the band’s signature immersive sonic landscapes, with Suzuki’s vocals serving as an integral component of their hypnotic sound.

Despite his significant contributions as a member of Can, Suzuki’s time with the band was relatively short. After recording several albums and embarking on numerous tours, he departed from Can in 1973.

After years away from music, Suzuki reemerged in 1983 by performing and recording with the band Dunkelziffer, whose membership included his former Can bandmate Jaki Liebezeit on drums. In the mid-1980s, Suzuki started the Damo Suzuki Band, with Liebezeit again playing drums.

The group transitioned into Damo Suzuki & Friends, which was a precursor to his Damo Suzuki’s Network project, a concept in which he would perform live concerts with a rotating lineup of musicians, inviting local artists to join him on stage for spontaneous improvisation sessions.

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