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I Am Damo Suzuki by Damo Suzuki & Paul Woods

I Am Damo Suzuki by Damo Suzuki & Paul Woods

Published by Omnibus, paperback, 400 pp, 2019

Price: £16.99
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Damo Suzuki has been described as a free music legend who first came to prominence as lead singer of the visionary German group Can. When the anarchic vocalist left the celebrated German band in late 1973, the ensuing decade-long absence was taken by many to be the end of his personal story. But it was just the beginning.

In I Am Damo Suzuki, Kenji Damo Suzuki and co-author Paul Woods illuminate a life in music driven by the principle of randomness. The book spans the influence of Western music on Suzuki growing up in post-Second World War Japan, his rejection of national traditions and a lifelong journey of exploration. After his hippie-influenced beginnings as a provocative street musician, Suzuki's story took an unlikely turn after a chance recruitment into Can, one of the most innovative bands of the 1970s. A stint of family life and the role of Japanese salaryman preceded his return to the music world with The Damo Suzuki Band and later with Damo Suzuki's Network, an international vehicle for musical communication using sound instead of words.

Suzuki was born in the outskirts of Tokyo in 1950. Leaving home after his 18th birthday to travel to Europe, his plan was to become a cartoonist. He busked around Europe and earned money as a pavement artist, before settling in Munich in 1970 to perform in the musical Hair for three months. A chance meeting with the members of Can set his life on a different trajectory. Now a permanent resident of Cologne, his business card reads "Metaphysical Transporter".

Damo Suzuki explains: “The main point of this whole book is my philosophy and dreams. My time here is becoming less and less. In a way I am strong. I survived major surgery, I’ve lived as a young adult in a foreign country (where) many times I wasn’t supported by any kind of institution, but I survived. I have found the strongest way to seek truth now.”

With contributions from family members, lifelong friends, musical collaborators and Suzuki's longterm partner, I Am Damo Suzuki is an absorbing portrait of a musical catalyst and enigmatic icon.