Holger Czukay (b. Holger Schüring) is not with us anymore. A real pioneer and innovator, and co-founder of legendary kraut-rock band Can passed away, aged 79, on September 5, in the band’s original studio. This marks the 2nd loss for the band within 2017, after Jaki Liebezeit‘s death in January. Czukay was mainly responsible for bridging the gap between pop and avant-garde. His tutor, the controversial genius Karlheinz Stockhausen (1963-1966) was one of his determinant influences, Furthermore, The Beatles‘ ‘I Am The Walrus‘, The Velvet Underground and Frank Zappa, broadened the horizons, of the always restless soul and musician.
Holger co-founded Can in 1968, playing the bass, undertaking later most of the recording and engineering for the group. Their debut album (as The Can), ‘Monster Movie‘ (1969) marked the starting point of an impetuous creative era, leading the group to record another 11 (studio) albums.
The following post was published in Can’s official Facebook page:
‘Holger Czukay, 24.3.1938 – 5.9.2017
We are very sad to confirm that Holger passed away yesterday, in his home, the old CAN Studio in Weilerswist. His wife U-She passed away only weeks before. Holger was devastated by the loss of his beloved partner, but was looking forward to making more music and was in good spirits. His passing has come as a shock. We will post more information about funeral arrangements shortly.’
After 1977’s ‘Out Of Reach‘ Czukay mainly focused on his solo career, collaborating with numerous artists such as Jah Wobble, Brian Eno & David Sylvian.
“If you want to make something new, you shouldn’t think too far beyond one certain idea“, this is what Czukay once stated about his method of composition (termed “radio painting”). He was more than honest with this statement basing most of his compositions on one simple idea. His innumerable sampling abilities took one simple idea and lifted off each track. This was the magic of Can, the magic of Holger. You may call it kraut, you may call it avant-pop. It was Can’s unique approach to music, gifting us with timeless, hypnotic anthems.
Least known German band S.Y.P.H., somewhere between punk, avantgarde and Neue Deutsche Welle, was one of the brightest examples of his geniusness (producing the oblivious gem ‘On the Way to the Peak of Normal‘).
Although, aged 79 Holger Czukay was still active releasing his latest solo album ‘Eleven Years Innerspace‘ in 2015. His death marks the end of an era. The end of unpolluted “avant-gardism”. But, albums like ‘Ege Bamyasi‘, ‘Tago Mago‘ and ‘Future Days‘, will always swirl in our heads and ears reminding us of these irrevocable days, when their creators still lived among us and breathed the same air.
“We were never a normal rock group. Can was an anarchist community.” Irmin Schmidt (Can’s keyboardist and co-founder).
Thank you Holger. Thank you Jaki. Thank you Can….