Damo Suzuki inspired alt rockers Talking heads, Brian Eno and Sonic Youth with his pioneering improv
Damo Suzuki, the enigmatic frontman of the legendary German krautrock outfit Can, passed away peacefully in Munich on February 19th, 2023, at the age of 72.
News of his passing sent shockwaves through the international music community, leaving behind a void that his singular presence and pioneering spirit will undoubtedly struggle to fill.
Born in Tokyo in 1950, Suzuki’s life took a pivotal turn in 1970 when he was spotted busking by the German experimental rock group, Kenji “Damo” Suzuki was invited to perform with Can that very evening in Cologne., his improvisational singing style – mixing words in English, Japanese and his own made-up languages – becoming key to Can’s avant sound.
“I don’t like to play the same piece again and again,” Suzuki told the Guardian in 2022. After appearing on the highly influential Can albums Tago Mago, Ege Bamyasi, and Future Days, Suzuki dropped out of music until the 80s, then forming his experimental “Damo Suzuki’s Network”, travelling the world and performing what he dubbed “instant composition”, improvisation with an array of local musicians in each city.
Suzuki and Can went on to greatly inspire a plethora of bands from the Sex Pistols, Public Image Limited, and David Bowie, through to Talking Heads, Brian Eno, Sonic Youth, Tortoise and The Falls, leaving an indelible mark on rock history!
Suzuki’s legacy extends far beyond his musical contributions. He was a true pioneer of improvisation, a testament to the power of spontaneity and intuition in artistic expression.
His commitment to collaboration and exploration transcended genres and generations, leaving an indelible mark on the landscape of experimental music.