Jaki Liebezeit, drummer for the German avant-garde rock legends Can, has passed away at the age of 78. A founding member of the influential group, Liebezeit provided a relentless and metronomically solid back-beat to Can’s vibrant, experimental music. Liebezeit played on every one of Can’s twelve studio albums, from their 1968 debut album ‘Monster Movie’ to their 1989 reformation album ‘Rite Time’.
Although famed for his deeply tribal, repetitive drum style, Liebezeit was actually one of Germany’s premier jazz drummers prior to forming Can. Liebezeit said the move was actually inspired by “a guy [that] came to me and said ‘you must play monotonous’ – he said it with a voice and expression [that meant I was] quite impressed. I don’t know, he was a kind of freak – he had taken an LSD trip or something… he was completely strange. I started thinking about it; to play monotonous – what did he mean by it? So I started to repeat things.” What could have been nothing more than a random encounter with an acid-casualty turned out to be the inspiration and catalyst for one of the most distinctive drumming styles in all of music.
Liebezeit helped forge now legendary records like 1971’s ‘Tago Mago’ and 1973’s pioneering quasi-ambient ‘Future Days’. In addition to his work with Can, he also collaborated with other groups and artists throughout his life, including the likes of Depeche Mode, Brian Eno and Jah Wobble. In the late ’70’s, he also worked with Michael Rother (of fellow German rock legends Neu!) on the latter’s solo records of the time.
Liebezeit’s work has left a huge mark on the world of experimental music – Can are, today, one of the best known experimental rock groups ever and their music continues to resonate well into the modern age.