Holger Czukay

Holger Czukay dies, aged 79

Influential German avant garde musician Holger Czukay has died at the age of 79. No cause of death has yet been announced.

Born Holger Schüring in the Free City of Danzig (now Gdańsk, Poland) in 1938, Czukay was a student of pioneering electronic musician and composer Karlheinz Stockhausen in the mid 1960s. Inspired by the Velvet Underground, Czukay and fellow student Irmin Schmidt formed CAN in 1968. Utilising electronic sounds and Czukay’s painstaking physical cut-and-paste manipulation of tape recordings alongside conventional rock instruments, a series of acclaimed albums such as Tago Mago (1971), Ege Bamyasi (1972) and Flow Motion (1976) established CAN as one of the leading figures in what became known as “Krautrock” alongside contemporaries such as Kraftwerk and Neu!. CAN even made it onto Top of the Pops in 1976 when they reached number 26 in the UK chart with their disco-influenced single I Want More, a song later covered by Blancmange on their 2015 album Semi Detached.


CAN – I Want More (1976) by glamking2c

At the end of the 1970s Czukay left CAN for a solo career, releasing Movies (1979) and On The Way To The Peak Of Normal (1981). Although he was never a household name, Czukay’s experimental approach influenced a generation of musicians, many of whom he collaborated with during the ’80s: he and Can drummer Jaki Liebezeit contributed to a track on Eurythmics’ 1981 début album In The Garden and recorded the 1982 album Full Circle with Jah Wobble. The following year Czukay and Wobble recorded another album Snake Charmer with U2’s The Edge.

Czukay also released two albums in collaboration with David Sylvian: Plight & Premonition (1988) and Flux + Mutability (1989), each consisting of two side-long instrumental tracks. As a soloist, Czukay continued to release new material sporadically while revisiting previous works; his most recent album Eleven Years Innerspace was released in 2015.