Can (band)

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General information
origin Cologne , Germany
Genre (s) Krautrock , avant-garde , psychedelic rock
founding 1968, 1986
resolution 1979, 1999
Founding members
Jaki love time
Irmin Schmidt
Holger Czukay(until 1977; from 1986)
Michael Karoli
David C. Johnson (1968)
former members
Malcolm Mooney (1968–1970; from 1986)
Damo Suzuki (1970-1973)
Rosko Gee (1977–1978)
Percussion , vocals
Reebop Kwaku Baah(1977–1979)
Guest musician
Rosemarie Heinikel (1968)
Singing, percussion, flute
Manfred "Manni" Löhne (1968)
Margareta Juvan (1968)
Gerd Dudek (1968)
Tenor saxophone
Olaf Kübler (1975)

Can was an avant-garde band founded in Cologne in 1968 , which cannot be assigned to any particular style of music and refused to be called a rock band . She moved between free jazz and avant-garde jazz , funk and innovative herb rock and psychedelic rock elements, and experimented with electronic music .


Foundation (1968)

The founders and artistic core of the band were keyboardist Irmin Schmidt and bassist Holger Czukay . Both had studied composition with Karlheinz Stockhausen at the Cologne University of Music . In early 1968 they gathered musicians with contrasting musical backgrounds around them and formed an experimental collective with them. David C. Johnson was teaching electronic music at the time. Drummer Jaki Liebezeit , who had previously worked with Manfred Schoof , came from free jazz . Guitarist Michael Karoli was still looking for musical identity. At first the band called itself Inner Space . From a concert in June 1968, the singles Agilok & Blubbo (July 1968) and Kamasutra (November 1968) were released. Hildegard Schmidt, Irmin Schmidt's wife, took over the management.

From 1968 the band first rehearsed in Nörvenich Castle , where they met in June 1968 for a jam session with the line-up of Karoli, Czukay, Schmidt, Liebezeit and Johnson. They were supplemented at short notice by Manfred “Manni” Löhne (vocals, percussion, flute). This jam session was published in 1984 as Bootleg Prehistoric Future , which was released in a limited edition of 2000 copies and included samples of the student unrest at the Paris Sorbonne .

In August 1968, Hildegard Schmidt met the sculptor Malcolm Mooney in Paris, who joined the band as the new singer. The remaining band members accepted his proposal to name the band The Can . Johnson left the group a little later because he did not want to support the increasingly rocking direction of the music.

1968 to 1973

In November 1968, Can recorded the soundtrack for the movie Kama Sutra - Completion of Love , which was released on June 5, 1969. The first LP Monster Movie was made on July 25, 1969 in Nörvenich Castle and contains spontaneous compositions. Its first edition, estimated at only 500 copies, was sold in two weeks. From the end of the year the band dropped the The in their name and called themselves Can . At concerts, Malcolm Mooney was also noticed at this time by his confused acting performances. On the advice of his psychiatrist, he returned to the United States a little later.

In May 1970 the street musician Kenji "Damo" Suzuki (vocals) was hired for a concert in Munich. This was followed by the LPs Can Soundtracks (recorded from November 1969 to August 1970) and Tago Mago (November 1970 to February 1971) , which were also recorded in Nörvenich . Soundtracks contained a compilation of film scores from the last five films for which Can was responsible as composer. In December 1971 Can moved into its own recording studio in a former cinema in Weilerswist near Cologne. Here, 1500 disused Bundeswehr mattresses ensured a dry sound. Holger Czukay acted as the sound engineer. 16-track technology was not used until 1974. From 1971 to 1978 the group produced eight studio albums here. The first LP from the new recording studio was Ege Bamyasi (December 1971 to June 1972), followed by Future Days (released in August 1973). At the suggestion of Conny Plank , René Tinner took over the role of sound engineer from 1973 and continued the studio as CAN studio in 1978. In September 1973 Damo Suzuki left the band.

1974 to 1977

The LP Limited Edition (1974) was initially only planned with a circulation of 15,000 copies, but was expanded to the Unlimited Edition in 1976 and contained previously unreleased titles. This was followed by the LPs Soon Over Babaluma (August 1974), Landed (February to April 1975). The double LP Unlimited Edition (March 1976) was an expanded version of the LP Limited Edition and contained recordings made between September 1968 and September 1974, Flow Motion (June 1976) and Saw Delight (January 1977).

In May 1977 Czukay left the band, Rosko Gee from the British rock band Traffic had already taken over the bass part on Saw Delight . Out of Reach (October 1977) was the tenth studio album, followed by Can (February 1978) with the resultant December 1977 single release Can Can / Can Be based on Jacques Offenbach's basic theme of the Cancan -Tanzes. With the LP Delay , the group self-ironically named the delays in the publication of the material (1981; recordings were made between March and October 1968 in Nörvenich Castle).

1978 to 1999

After the sessions for the LP Can in February 1978, the group finally broke up. In the same year Karoli left the band, in 1980 Schmidt and his family moved to Provence . Later appearances took place under the name Can Solo Projects with individual former band members.

In 1986 or 1987, Can reunited in the cast of Monster Movie after Malcolm Mooney found a plane ticket behind his sofa that the other members had sent him a decade earlier. The last regular album followed with this line-up, Rite Time , whose recording and production lasted until early 1989. 1999 saw the last collaboration under the name Can for the series Pop 2000 .

After 1999

Michael Karoli died on November 17, 2001 as a result of cancer . On June 18, 2012, the CD Can - The Lost Tapes was released with lost recordings lasting around 30 hours. They were found when the Can-Studio “Inner Space” was closed in November 2007 and rebuilt true to the original in Gronau (Westphalia) by the Rock'n'pop Museum . Jaki Liebezeit died on 22 January 2017 at the age of 78 years at a pneumonia . On September 5, 2017, Holger Czukay was found dead in his apartment in Weilerswist.

Film music

Can - Spoon

The band became known to a larger audience through film music, for example for Tom Toelle's TV film Das Millionenspiel , broadcast on October 18, 1970. The LP Can Soundtracks included titles from the films Mädchen mitorce (German premiere on February 19, 1970), Ein große graublauer Vogel (German premiere in June 1970), Deadlock (October 15, 1970), Deep End (April 29, 1971) and Cream - Schwabing Report (August 27, 1971). The best-known soundtrack was the title Spoon (with a rhythm machine, released in December 1971), which was broadcast as the signature tune of the three-part Durbridge crime series Das Messer from November 30, 1971. In December 1971, the single reached number 8 in the German charts . The song subsequently sold over 200,000 copies.

In 1973 Can (as The Can ) provided the music for the 25th Tatort episode Dead Taube in Beethovenstrasse by Samuel Fuller (broadcast on January 7, 1973); the title Vitamin C appeared - like Spoon  - later on the LP Ege Bamyası . From September 24, 1975 the crime series Eurogang ran with the Can single Hunters and Collectors (from the LP Landed ). The single I Want More (from the LP Flow Motion ) reached the UK charts in August 1976 up to 26th, the group’s only UK chart listing. The title Aspectacle from the LP Can became the signature tune of the ZDF culture magazine Aspects in February 1978 . Can contributed the music to a total of 21 films. This enabled the band to be financially independent in their other projects.


Her concert in 1970 at the Soest Allerheiligenkirmes in the youth carousel was the first complete live TV appearance. It was recorded by WDR and broadcast there for the first time on February 6, 2017. Can became known to a larger audience in July 1970 at the first Open Air Pop Festival in Aachen .

The band was very well known in the UK despite its subdued sales. The first tour through England took place on April 28, 1972, beginning in London and ending on May 8, 1972 in Colchester ; since then they have performed here regularly. An extensive tour of England started on February 16, 1973 and only ended after four weeks on March 18, 1973. On August 9, 1971, they stood in front of the cameras in the Beat Club . Can gave a concert in the sold-out Cologne sports hall on February 3, 1972 , which was recorded by WDR television under the direction of Peter Przygodda and broadcast on WDR 3 on September 25, 1975 . The last appearances took place in May 1977 in Portugal.


Can set experimental accents in their playing style, the way they play together and in the production method, which deviated significantly from conventional rock music . Repetitive passages, strong improvisational passages reaching into jazz-rock and free-jazz became her trademark. Can was neither a commercial rock band nor a mainstream rock music formation. The band's musical style did not fit into the marketing scheme of most record labels, making it difficult for the group to find a record label at first. That was why the band had to change record labels so often. It wasn't until May 1975 that they got a record deal with EMI . Can's recording habits led to the accumulation of unpublished recordings that didn't hit the market until years later. In 2003 Can received the German music award Echo for life's work.

From the beginning, Can stood apart from the tradition of rock 'n' roll , which was due to the fact that two of their musicians (Czukay and Schmidt) came from the classical music scene around Karlheinz Stockhausen . An employee of Stockhausen, the composer, flautist and live electronics technician David Johnson was one of the founding members of Can.

The only one who had experience in rock music when it was founded was the young guitarist Karoli, who had already played in various beat groups . In addition, the drummer Liebezeit, who had previously dealt with jazz and for a while with free jazz (for example in the quintet of Manfred Schoof ), brought another contrast to the "musical commune", which especially in the early days was a focus put improvised music .

Another influence that shaped all members of the formation was world music and folklore from all parts of the world. In the course of her work, new influences such as disco , but also technical innovations were constantly added, which gradually changed her sound. These constant changes and the peculiar views on working together in the collective repeatedly led to line-up changes, although the core was always retained.

Their decisive contribution to the history of music lies in the fact that, like hardly any other band, they developed an aesthetic of repetitive sound compositions independent of the classical song structure. Can thus set the trend for the music of the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s. For example, punk bands like the Buzzcocks appealed to Can. There was widespread acceptance in the area of post-punk (e.g. Siouxsie and the Banshees , Public Image Ltd. and The Fall ) and Independent (e.g. Sonic Youth , The Jesus and Mary Chain , Radiohead and The Mars Volta ) . Through the minimalist use of electronic instruments, classically minimalist drum sets and the typical repetitive song structures, Can became one of the pioneers of electronic dance and light music.

In addition to Einstürzende Neubauten , Kraftwerk and the Scorpions , Can are among the most successful and well-known German bands worldwide. The American rock band The Mooney Suzuki named themselves after the surnames of the two Can singers, but there were no musical influences beyond that. On his album Graduation (2007, Roc-A-Fella Records ), Kanye West uses a sample from Sing Swan Song for Drunk and Hot Girls . The experimental composer Karlheinz Essl created Father Earth , which appeared in 2007 on his publication SNDT®X , a homage to Can, which refers to Mother Sky from the LP Soundtracks . In an interview with The Quietus in 2011, Geoff Barrow from Portishead describes Can’s enormous influence on his creative work: “Can are my favorite and most inspirational band ever, I think. I heard this in the early nineties on the radio, thinking they were the best new band ever - and then I found out it was released in the early 70s. Melodically, sonically and rythmically this is experimentation with songs. "

Stephen Malkmus , the former singer and guitarist of Pavement , who processed an intense Can reception with this band as well as with the Jicks , covered the entire Can album Ege Bamyasi at the Cologne Weekend Festival and together with members of the band Von Spar in 2012 released the recording in 2013 as Can's Ege Bamyasi . In June 2015, the magazine chose Rolling Stone , the album Future Days at number 8 of the 50 best progressive rock albums of all time .


Studio albums

Chart positions
Explanation of the data
Tago Mago
  DE 38 October 15, 1971 (1 week)
  UK 100 05/24/1997 (1 week)
The Lost Tapes
  DE 65 07/30/2012 (5 weeks)
  UK 77 06/30/2012 (1 week)
The Singles
  DE 39 06/23/2017 (1 week)
  UK 83 06/29/2017 (1 week)
  DE 6th December 27, 1971 (16 weeks)
I want more
  UK 26th 08/28/1976 (10 weeks)
date album Remarks
August 1969 Monster Movie
September 1970 Soundtracks
February 1971 Tago Mago Double LP
June 1972 Ege Bamyasi
August 1973 Future Days
November 1974 Soon Over Babaluma
September 1975 Landed
October 1976 Flow motion
March 1977 Saw Delight
July 1978 Out of reach
July 1979 Can Re-release (1985): Inner Space
September 1989 Rite time


date single
July 1968 Agilok & Blubbo / Camera Song
November 1968 Kama Sutra / I'm Hiding My Nightingale
December 1969 Soul Desert / She Brings The Rain
December 1971 Spoon / Shikako Maru Ten
1972 I'm So Green / Mushroom
1972 Vitamin C / I'm So Green
August 1973 Moonshake / Future Days
1974 Dizzy Dizzy / Splash
September 1975 Hunters & Collectors / Vernal Equinox
August 1976 I Want More /… And More
1976 Silent Night / Cascade Waltz
January 1977 Don't say no / return
January 1978 Can-Can / Can Be
August 1990 Hoolah Hoolah (double-mix) / Hoolah Hoolah (sun electric mix)

Compilations and live recordings

date album Remarks Period of time
1974 limited edition Collection of rarities 1968-1974
March 1976 Unlimited edition Collection of rarities 1968-1974
1976 Opener Compilation of LP material 1972-1974
1978 Cannibalism Compilation of LP material 1969-1974
1981 Delay 1968 Collection of rarities and outtakes 1968
1984 Prehistoric Future First session at Nörvenich Castle June 1968
1993 Anthology Compilation of LP and soundtrack material 1968-1991
1995 The peel sessions Collection of BBC recordings 1973-1976
1997 Radio waves Rarities and live recordings
1997 Sacrilege Tribute double album with remixes and covers
1999 Can Live Collection of live recordings 1972-1977
June 2012 The Lost Tapes Unpublished studio and live recordings 1968-1977
2017 The Singles compilation


  • Mother Sky Berlin (Waldbühne; 1971)
  • University of Essex (Colchester; May 8, 1972)
  • Horror Trip in the Paper House (Cologne; February 3, 1973)
  • Live at Paris Olympia (Paris; 1973)
  • Live at Sussex University (Brighton; November 1975)
  • Live at Stuttgart (October 31, 1975)
  • Live at Hannover (November 4th 1976)
  • London and Grenoble Live (1976)
  • Germany 1976 Vol. 1 (Hanover; April 11, 1976)
  • Great Britain 1977 Vol. 2 (Aston; March 4, 1977)
  • Radio Waves (Sonic records, 1997): Live recordings and rarities 1969–1972
  • Zhengzheng Rikang (2006; recordings from 1968/1969)


  • Hermann Haring: Rock from Germany / West - From the Rattles to Nena: Two decades of home sound. Rowohlt, Reinbek near Hamburg 1984.
  • Pascal Bussy / Andy Hall: The Can Book. SAF Publishing, 1989.
  • Hildegard Schmidt / Wolf Kampmann: Can Box: Book. Medium Music Books, 1998.
  • Julian Cope : Krautrock sampler. One Head's Guide to the Great Cosmic Music. Werner Pieper's Media Experiments, 1996.
  • Robert von Zahn: Irmin Schmidt, Holger Czukay, Jaki Liebezeit: CAN. DuMont, Cologne 2006.
  • Wagner, Christoph (2013): The Sound of Revolt: The Magical Years of the West German Music Underground, Mainz and others: Schott.
  • Alexander Simmeth: Krautrock transnational. The reinvention of pop music in Germany, 1968–1978 , Transcript Verlag, Bielefeld 2016, ISBN 978-3-8376-3424-2 .
  • Rob Young & Irmin Schmidt: All Gates Open. The Story of Can , 2018, ISBN 978-0571311491 .

Web links

Commons : Can (Band)  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Rosy-Books-Music & more: Exhibition Munich City Museum. Retrieved July 28, 2013 .
  2. ^ Thomas Westphal: The CAN. Retrieved July 28, 2013 .
  3. Broadcast "Elektro Beats" with Olaf Zimmermann on Radio Eins on May 30, 2012, 11:00 p.m .: Irmin Schmidt on the 75th
  4. a b Holger Czukay : can - publications. (No longer available online.) Archived from the original on September 21, 2013 ; Retrieved August 7, 2013 . Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  5. ^ The Mojo Collection. In: Mojo Magazine , 2007, p. 291
  6. Holger Czukay : Holger Czukay's Short History of the Can - Discography. May 1997, accessed April 16, 2017 .
  7. Pneumonia !: “Can” drummer Jaki Liebezeit died in Cologne. In: Retrieved January 23, 2017 .
  8. Rock avant-garde: Can bassist Holger Czukay found dead. In: Spiegel Online. Retrieved September 6, 2017 .
  9. The music titles of the broadcast from August 26, 2012. ( Memento of the original from March 8, 2017 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was automatically inserted and not yet checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. Information about the shipment hot off the press. New books with Denis Scheck on the ARD website, accessed on November 22, 2012.  @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  10. Barbara Lammerschmitt, Bernd Lindner: Rock! Youth and Music in Germany. 2005, p. 64
  11. Stefan Morawietz: Robots don't eat sauerkraut . Documentary from 2008, from minute 37. Online version on YouTube
  12. TV appearance in Soest
  13. Can tour schedule. In:
  14. ^ Sebastian Ingenhoff: Contemporary stories : Can. In: Groove 138 (September / October 2012). piranha media GmbH, November 18, 2012, accessed on September 4, 2015 .
  15. Bakers Dozen: Portishead Choose Their Favorite 13 Albums. In: The Quietus. August 31, 2011, accessed July 12, 2012 .
  16. Can's Ege Bamyasi Played By Stephen Malkmus And Friends. In: , February 20, 2013
  17. ^ Reed Fischer: 50 Greatest Prog Rock Albums of All Time - Can, 'Future Days' (1973). In: Rolling Stone . Wenner Media, June 17, 2015, accessed on September 2, 2015 .
  18. a b Chart sources: Germany / UK charts