Holger Czukay, bassist and co-founder of the influential krautrock band Can, has died. He was 79. According to a report in the German newspaper Express, his body was found by a neighbour in his Weilerswist home after construction workers there hadn’t seen him for a few days.
Czukay was born in what is now Gdańsk, Poland in 1938. He studied music under the tutelage of avant-garde composer Karlheinz Stockhausen between 1963 and 1966 before becoming a music teacher himself. He then formed Can with keyboard player Irmin Schmidt in 1968 after one of his students played him The Beatles’ ‘I Am The Walrus’. He was also influenced by the music of The Velvet Underground and Frank Zappa.
Playing bass with Can, Czukay was also responsible for much of the band’s studio engineering and recording. In many ways, he employed a form of early sampling. Can’s music was frequently the result of long improvised sessions that were then edited down with Czukay cutting and splicing tapes. He recorded nine albums with Can including Tago Mago (1971), Ege Bamyasi (1972) and Future Days (1973).
Eschewing western notions of blues and rock structures, Can blended elements of early electronics, world music, psychedelia and funk and are widely regarded as pioneers of Germany’s 70s kosmische musik scene. Can’s influence has stretched over five decades and their music has been keenly felt in a variety of bands including Public Image Limited, The Fall, Happy Mondays, Loop, The Mars Volta and even Kanye West.
Czukay left Can after 1977’s Saw Delight. He subsequently released 11 solo albums. He went on to collaborate with David Sylvian and Jah Wobble among others.
His passing comes after Can drummer Jaki Liebezeit died in January this year.
His latter day label, Mute, wrote on Twitter: “Can’t think of anything coherent to say, particularly on Twitter, dearest Mr Czukay, you’ll be missed so much. Hilarious genius.”
Can't think of anything coherent to say, particularly on twitter, dearest Mr Czukay, you'll be missed so much. Hilarious genius.— Mute (@MuteUK) September 5, 2017
Portishead’s Geoff Barrow tweeted: “Rip Holger Czukay off to the massive jam in the sky....”
Rip Holger Czukay— Geoff Barrow (@jetfury) September 5, 2017
of to the massive jam in the sky.... pic.twitter.com/xSZxmKsn9V