Hol­ger Czukay

March 24, 1938 – Septem­ber 5, 2017

Classic Rock - - The Dirt -

Hol­ger Czukay, the bassist and a co-founder of the pi­o­neer­ing Ger­man band Can, has died at the age of 79. He was found by a neigh­bour at his apart­ment, con­verted from Can’s old stu­dio just out­side Cologne. The cause of death had yet to be re­vealed as this is­sue went to press.

“I never in­tended to be­come a rock or pop mu­si­cian,” Czukay said back in

1994. “What I wanted to be­come was a cre­ative per­son.”

Hav­ing stud­ied un­der ac­claimed but con­tro­ver­sial com­poser Kar­lheinz Stock­hausen in the 1960s, and sub­se­quently work­ing briefly as a mu­sic teacher, Czukay per­formed on nine of Can’s al­bums as well as en­gi­neer­ing them. Along­side Tan­ger­ine Dream, Neu! and Faust, Can were front-run­ners of the fol­low­ing decade’s krautrock scene, mix­ing am­bi­ent and elec­tronic mu­sic with rock and avant garde.

Af­ter leav­ing Can in 1977 for a solo ca­reer, he worked as a pro­ducer and/or col­lab­o­ra­tor with Brian Eno, Ja­pan singer David Syl­vian, U2 gui­tarist The Edge, Pub­lic Im­age Lim­ited’s Jah Wob­ble, the Eury­th­mics and the Ger­man band Trio. He also ap­peared on the 1992 al­bum The Mer­maid, a project that fea­tured Peter Gabriel and An­nie Len­nox.

Czukay be­came a pi­o­neer of sam­pling be­fore the term was even in­vented, us­ing ran­dom snip­pets of sound recorded from short-wave ra­dios and past­ing them into record­ings.

Back in April, un­der the name The Can Project, a vari­a­tion of the group’s line-up that in­cluded Can’s ever-present key­board player Ir­min Sch­midt and Amer­i­can vo­cal­ist and early Can mem­ber Mal­colm Mooney re­con­vened with­out Czukay to per­form with the Lon­don Sym­phony Or­ches­tra and Sonic Youth gui­tarist Thurston Moore. DL

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