✯ Mike's Site

RIP Damo Suzuki

As you get older, more and more entire bands will be gone. The Band entered that realm last year with the death of leader Robbie Robertson, and it's been 10 years without any original Ramones on this earthly plane. Now only the original keyboardist Irmin Schmidt remains from the classic lineup of Can.

Damo Suzuki, as the legend goes, was discovered by a recently-singerless Can as a busker and joined the same day.

When they asked me to sing, I never thought that I’d stay with this band or be invited to make recordings of LPs, I never had such a dream.

A guy who left Japan on a whim the day after his 18th birthday, he barely spoke German at the time and wasn't particularly great at English either. He had a dream of being a cartoonist, and felt that the hippies around him in '68 were trend-following egoists rather than true free spirits. Can, however, were a different story:

Everybody in the band is quite special. And they had different interests in music. Jaki was free jazz, Irmin [Schmidt] was a conductor of an orchestra, Holger [worked with] Stockhausen and Michael [Karoli] was a young rock guitarist. And I was a hippie! So five totally different people with five different directions. With the chemistry, naturally it came together. That’s why it’s quite timeless music.

He left after three stone-cold, monumentally influential and still-relevant albums at 23 to become a Jehovah's Witness. But it seems like it was a pattern for him to not be a joiner, and though he considered himself a Christian until he died, he left that organization after a couple years as well.

He spent a lot of time touring with random musicians and not rehearsing, preferring spontaneity — and getting away with such insanity because he was Damo Suzuki. I was lucky enough to see him around 20 years ago with a Boston band called Cul de Sac and he was still a magical performer.

Safe journeys to wherever you're going now, Damo.