R.I.P. Jaki Liebezeit (26. May 1938 – 22. January 2017)

By Hpschaefer www.reserv-art.de – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

Jaki was without any doubt one of a most innovative musician. He didn’t like to categorise him as musician, instead he was saying with strong emphasis, he is a DRUMMER.

I had opportunities to have musical adventure with this wonderful restrain human being and drummer…… allowed me for two periods.
1970 – 1973 and 1986 – 1990.

First time I saw Jaki was in spring of 1970, on Leopold street, Munich. This story many heard many times, Holger stood up asked me to be a singer on that beautiful day. „Europe Cafe“ was an institution, hippies, world traveller, escape soldiers from Vietnam…the meeting point. Jaki sat there for his cup of coffee, hide his big tragic eyes behind reflex sunglasses.
Move to Cologne few days later, first place I stayed in Cologne was Jaki’s artist commune with Gerd Dudeck, an excellent Saxophonist, Uwe, a camera man at WDR and Jaki’s girlfriend Christine at Domstrasse, few steps down from Cologne Central Station. Whenever I lived in city centre, Jaki often picked me up with his Beetle to Nürvenich Studio, for hanging around, session after session. He also likes to tinker many small things that time.
Jaki’s drumming sounded like German tank first I heard. Strong and unbeatable like General Field Marshal Erwin Rommel.
We had surely great time together that time, but I knew much more about this wonderful human being at middle of 80’s when he had a rehearsing room at Stollwerck, a former chocolate factory captured by artists and students at that period. He was there everyday, exercising drumming alone and with his young follower percussionists until almost sunrise.

Good ol’ 2nd half of 80’s with Jaki

Jaki was lived together with „rhythm“ like time is ticking.
Jaki was never shy to play with young unknown musicians, he never discussed about performance fee. His life is having tact and he’s just happy when he has opportunity to perform. It’s his life and his mission. He was born to be engrave time. This has never changed when I see him 10 years later, 20 years later… He is exercising minimum 8 hours a day. He had always young follower around him.

He was a star, but he was so near to people. It’s understandable, there’s many people admire Jaki around the world. Many of them don’t know Jaki personally just only from drumming, but, if they know Jaki near, they like him much more. He was not a machine, he was warm person. Surely during that period with him, Damo Suzuki Band, I had great time, creative and share free energy. Just pity he didn’t mean much for this period as this period is not in his history.
Then we quit different direction, never come closer again in musical field, but I was happy to hear old Jaki’s travelling with some young artist around the world.

Last time I saw him was few years back, he came to dinner not long before I got my illness. He seemed to be so happy and enjoyed my food, promised to visit me for a dinner again.

Jaki, your pass is very shock for many people, but I believe you had great life with amazing creative energy, enjoyed what you’d done. You will still alive in many people, especially all those follower percussionists. Your drum sound will never meet end as some of your follower percussionist will continue your path.

Jaki, rest in peace!

Danke Jaki!

Damo Suzuki / January 28 2017

5 Replies to “R.I.P. Jaki Liebezeit (26. May 1938 – 22. January 2017)”

  1. Thanks for the stories,…and for letting us know Jaki passed. You and Can opened my ears to so much more music,it’s sad to think of all the “classic” musicians leaving Earth( Daevid Allen, Jaki,…many other old-time classics….). God bless you!

  2. Thanks for continuing to send me your newsletter. I didn’t know Jaki had passed, so sad.
    Of course I’m a CAN fan and still have all the original Vinyl from 70’s!
    I hope you are well soon and get back on the road. I did a version of “She Brings the Rain” WITH harmonica solo in our band practice recently.
    Peter Gresham ( Australia)

  3. Extremely saddened by the news which i only came to know now.

    To many people like myself who only knew Jaki as a superb drummer, your words are moving and open a window to understanding where this unique beat came from.

    Jaki’s heart will beat on and on each time each one of us listen to him beat the drums.

    Rami (Jerusalem)

  4. Damo, first it’s always so lovely to hear from you, even in such sad circumstances. Elaine and I send you lot’s of love. Thank you so much for your writing about Jaki. He was a great guy, he and I shared a love of football and I treasure the memories of my time with him, with Michael and with you. So many adventures. So many more to come xxx

  5. i just found out today. i’m sad. listening to ‘yoo doo right’ from Monster Movie. nice words Damo.

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