The music world has lost one of its most enigmatic figures.
Damo Suzuki, the legendary singer of the German krautrock band Can, has died at the age of 74.
Spoon Records, which represented Can, announced his passing on February 9, noting that he had left an indelible mark on music across the globe. The cause of death was not disclosed, but it's known that Suzuki had been battling colon cancer since 2014.
Kenji Suzuki, better known by his stage name, Damo Suzuki, was a Japanese musician who became an iconic figure in experimental rock music.
Suzuki's journey to fame began in the most unexpected of places; he was discovered busking on the streets of Germany by members of Can in the late 1960s. Suzuki's unique vocal style and improvisational approach to music quickly became a hallmark of Can's sound, contributing to albums that remain influential to this day, such as "Tago Mago," "Ege Bamyasi," and "Future Days."
His career was nothing if not eclectic. After leaving Can in 1973, he took a significant break from music, diving into a completely different life as a Jehovah's Witness. This hiatus lasted about a decade, after which Suzuki made a triumphant return to music.
However, his approach this time was different; he traveled the world, collaborating with local musicians under the banner of Damo Suzuki's Network. This phase of his career was characterized by an ever-expanding tapestry of sound created in collaboration with a rotating cast of musicians.
Spoon Records paid tribute to Suzuki's boundless creativity and his impact on music lovers around the world.
In their statement, they noted:
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.
This sentiment echoes the thoughts of many who were inspired by Suzuki's relentless pursuit of musical exploration and his ability to transcend cultural and linguistic barriers through his art. Born in Kobe, Japan, Suzuki's journey to becoming a global music icon is a testament to the universal language of music.
Beyond his work with Can and the Network, Suzuki also delved into the world of writing and film. In 2019, he released a memoir, "I Am Damo Suzuki," co-authored with Paul Woods, detailing his extraordinary life and career. A year before his death, a documentary titled "Energy" was released, providing an intimate look at Suzuki's life, beliefs, and his complicated relationship with music.
Despite his diagnosis of colon cancer in 2014, Suzuki continued to perform and create, showing a resilience and dedication to his art that inspired many. His departure from Can in the early '70s, subsequent spiritual journey, and eventual return to music paints a picture of a man constantly in search of deeper meaning and new ways to express himself through sound.
Damo Suzuki's impact on the world of music cannot be overstated. His approach to performance, improvisation, and collaboration opened up new pathways for artists and audiences. Suzuki's "Network Tour," where he played with local musicians across the globe, was a precursor to today's collaborative and genre-blending musical landscape.
Reflecting on Suzuki's legacy, it's clear that his influence spans far beyond the krautrock genre for which he was initially known. Suzuki was a pioneer, a musical nomad whose journey through life and art was marked by constant evolution and an unwavering commitment to exploration. His kind soul, cheeky smile, and boundless creative spirit will be deeply missed but forever celebrated.