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R.I.P., Damo Suzuki: Former Can Vocalist and Leader of Damo Suzuki's Network, Dead at 74

Suzuki was invited to join Can after members Holger Czukay and Jaki Liebezeit found him busking on a street in Munich, Germany.

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Source: Facebook / Damo Suzuki

Damo Suzuki, former Can vocalist and the subject of the Fall song, "I Am Damo Suzuki"

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Damo Suzuki, the Japanese musician best known for the work he did with the German Krautrock band Can in the early ‘70s, has died at the age of 74. Suzuki, who had been diagnosed with colon cancer when he was 33, successfully fought the disease into remission until 2014, when the cancer returned.

While his cause of death has yet to be officially confirmed, Suzuki’s passing was confirmed by Can’s label, Spoon Records, in an Instagram post:

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.

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Born in Kobe, Japan on January 16, 1950, Suzuki - whose birth name was actually Kenji Suzuki - moved to Europe in 1968, living in a Swedish commune for a time before bouncing around a bit, residing for brief periods in Ireland, France, and the UK before eventually making his way to Germany.

It was while busking in Munich in 1970 that Suzuki was discovered by Holger Czukay and Jaki Liebezeit, bassist and drummer for Can, respectively, who invited him to join the band. Not only did Suzuki accept their offer, he actually performed with them that very night and ended up sticking around through three full-length studio LPs: Tago Mago (1971), Ege Bamyasi (1972), and Future Days (1973).

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Outside of his own work, Suzuki’s greatest musical collaboration is perhaps serving as inspiration for the song “I Am Damo Suzuki,” by the Fall, written by noted Can fan, Mark E. Smith.

"The moment I saw this I thought, 'There must be another Damo Suzuki,’” Suzuki said in his memoir, which he quite intentionally titled I Am Damo Suzuki. "That same year I had a conversation with Mark E. and his wife Brix in their hotel room until early morning. I told them I thought their song was really good fun. He wrote quite a good lyric, which is based in part on my past life and quotes a Can song called 'Oh Yeah.’ It's quite amazing what he made out of it. If I listen to 'I Am Damo Suzuki,’ I think that Mark E. Smith is the real Damo Suzuki.”

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In an interview with Terrascope, Suzuki reflected on his highly influential work with Can.

"Future Days is for me the best album I made with Can," said Suzuki. "Because it was very easy to quit from Can after that album. I wanted nothing from them after that. Musically I was very satisfied. It was a really good time to begin a new life. I like Future Days. Nobody else arrived at such a space. It’s just a new dimension. With that album I was really free, it was no longer necessary to make music after. I was not really at the front with Future Days. This time I was right in the music landscape. It was pure magic."

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