Passings: Jaki Liebezeit of Can (1938 - 2017)

by VVN Music

Jaki Liebezeit, the influential German drummer from the band Can, died on Sunday (January 22) after suffering from pneumonia. He was 78.

A statement on the Can Facebook page said "It is with great sadness we have to announce that Jaki passed away this morning from sudden pneumonia. He fell asleep peacefully, surrounded by his loved ones. We will miss him hugely."

Born in Dresden, Jaki started his musical career after moving to Barcelona, playing European free jazz with Manfred School's quintet; however, he soon grew tired of the music and was recruited by the members of CAN who had come up through the avant-garde classical movement. The combination of so many non-mainstream musicians contributed to the chaotic sound for which the band became known; however, it was Liebezeit's drumming that kept them as much together as possible. Known for his metronome type precision, it was said that he was "half-man, half-machine."

Never a mainstream band, Can released eleven albums between 1969 and 1979 that ranged from an abrasive psych-rock to free form improvisational to ambient instrumentals. The band even released a disco influenced track in the late-70's, I Want More, that became their most popular song outside of Germany.

Can never officially broke up but has been inactive except for occasional reunions since 1979. A final album, Rite Time, came out in 1989.

Outside of Can, Liebezeit was a member of Phantomband (1980), Drums of Chaos (1982) and Club Off Chaos (1996) along with recording with the likes of Jah Wobble, Philip Jeck, Depeche Mode and Brian Eno.


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