Damo Suzuki, Legendary Can Vocalist, Dies at 74

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Damo Suzuki, Legendary Can Vocalist, Dies at 74

The Japanese musician performed and recorded with the German krautrock band for a short but important period in the early 1970s

Damo Suzuki

Damo Suzuki, April 2018 (Vincenzo Buscemi/Getty Images)

Damo Suzuki, the Japanese musician who spent a handful of memorable years as the lead singer of Can, died yesterday (February 9) at the age of 74. Can’s label, Spoon Records, did not disclose a cause of death in its announcement, but Suzuki had been diagnosed with colon cancer in 2014. “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,” the label wrote. “Damo’s kind soul and cheeky smile will be forever missed.”

Born Kenji Suzuki in Kobe, Japan, the musician found his way to Germany by the late 1960s, joining Can after bassist Holger Czukay and drummer Jaki Liebezeit spotted him busking outside of a Munich cafe. Can had released just one album, 1969’s Monster Movie, with original vocalist Malcolm Mooney before Suzuki joined for some work on 1970’s Soundtracks. The group’s first full album with Suzuki was 1971’s Tago Mago, and the vocalist truly made his mark on 1972’s Ege Bamyasi, featuring “Vitamin C” and “Spoon.” Suzuki made just one more LP with the krautrock band, Future Days, before departing in 1973.

After leaving Can, Suzuki became a Jehovah’s Witness and spent about a decade away from music entirely. When he returned to music, he played shows globally with different local musicians, referring to the tours as Damo Suzuki’s Network. He recorded numerous Network and solo releases over the ensuing decades.

With co-author Paul Woods, Suzuki released the memoir I Am Damo Suzuki in 2019. The musician was also the subject of director Michelle Heighway’s 2022 documentary Energy.

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