Jaki Liebezeit

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Jaki Liebezeit
Jaki Liebezeit, December 2011
Jaki Liebezeit, December 2011
Background information
Birth nameHans Liebezeit
Born(1938-05-26)26 May 1938
Ostrau, Saxony, Germany
Died22 January 2017(2017-01-22) (aged 78)
Cologne, Germany
Years active1961–2017

Jaki Liebezeit (born Hans Liebezeit; 26 May 1938[1] – 22 January 2017) was a German drummer, best known as a founding member of experimental rock band Can.[2] He was called "one of the few drummers to convincingly meld the funky and the cerebral".[3]

Early life[edit]

Hans "Jaki" Liebezeit was born in the village of Ostrau south of Dresden, Germany.[4][5] His mother, Elisabeth, was from Lower Saxony. His father, Karl Moritz Johannes Liebezeit, was the music teacher at the village school, specialising in accordion and violin, and taught both instruments to Jaki, who treasured his father's accordion for the rest of his life. His father was forced to stop teaching music during the Nazi period, and died in mysterious circumstances on 18 August 1943.[4][6]

Hans' early life was one of extreme poverty, with no running water at home, surviving on vegetables grown in the garden, and having to walk several kilometres to school daily. As the Soviets began to occupy East Germany, he became a refugee when his mother took him west to Hannoversch Münden to live with her mother and brother, just before the border closed in 1945.[4][6]

Musical career[edit]

In the mid-1960s, he was part of Manfred Schoof's quintet, who were early exponents of European free jazz.[7]

He subsequently moved towards the new possibilities being opened by psychedelic music as a member of Can. His drumming was prominent in the band's sound, particularly in his much-admired contribution to the side-long "Halleluhwah" on Tago Mago. Liebezeit is best known for his exceptional "metronome" style of playing; other members of Can have suggested that he sounds as though he is "half-man, half machine".

Liebezeit provided drums, in the form of the distinctive "Motorik beat", for Michael Rother's late-1970s solo albums.[8]

In 1980, he became a member of Phantomband,[7] and formed drum ensembles such as Drums off Chaos and Club off Chaos.[7] Later he recorded with numerous musicians, such as Jah Wobble[7] and Philip Jeck, with whom he produced an album for Jah Wobble's 30 Hertz Records, and contributed drums and percussion to many albums as a guest musician over the years, such as the Depeche Mode album Ultra and Brian Eno's album Before and After Science. In later years, he worked with Burnt Friedman on the Secret Rhythms[9] albums and with Schiller on the Atemlos album.

He also worked on the Cyclopean EP, released on 11 February 2013 on 12" and download for Mute Records. Cyclopean was a project that involved, other than Liebezeit, Irmin Schmidt from Can alongside long time collaborators Jono Podmore (Kumo / Metamono) and musician and producer Burnt Friedman.[10] He recorded with Hans Joachim Irmler of Faust an album called Flut released 18 July 2014.[11]

In 2013, he recorded the album The Obscure Department with British singer-songwriter Robert Coyne.[12][13] Two more albums with Coyne, Golden Arc (2014) and I Still Have This Dream (2016), followed.

Liebezeit died of pneumonia on 22 January 2017.[14]

A tribute concert to Liebezeit, at the Philharmonic Hall, Cologne took place on 22 January 2018.[15]



  1. ^ Young, Rob (24 January 2017). "Jaki Liebezeit, 1938-2017". Faber & Faber Blog.
  2. ^ JON PARELES. "Jaki Liebezeit, Influential Drummer for Can, Dies at 78". The New York Times. Retrieved 26 May 2017.
  3. ^ "Jeff Norman's website". Uwm.edu. 23 September 1999. Archived from the original on 30 April 2009. Retrieved 21 October 2011.
  4. ^ a b c Podmore, Jono, ed. (2020). JAKI LIEBEZEIT the life, theory and practice of a master drummer. UNBOUND. ISBN 9781783527823.
  5. ^ Krämer, Ralf (10 December 2008). "Techno, im Prinzip ein flotterer Marsch: Jaki Liebezeit im Interview". Spex – Magazin für Popkultur. Archived from the original on 25 December 2013. Retrieved 14 May 2012.
  6. ^ a b Young, Rob; Schmidt, Irmin (3 May 2018). All Gates Open: The Story of Can. Faber and Faber. ISBN 978-0-571-31149-1.
  7. ^ a b c d "Biography at Spoon Records". Spoonrecords.com. Retrieved 21 October 2011.
  8. ^ "Michael Rother". Michaelrother.de. 2015. Archived from the original on 9 March 2010. Retrieved 26 January 2015.
  9. ^ "Burnt Friedman & Jaki Liebezeit Discography". Discogs.com. 2015. Retrieved 26 January 2015.
  10. ^ "EP Release – 12" & Download Out 11 Feb 2013". Mute Records. 1 February 2013. Retrieved 23 January 2017.
  11. ^ Hunter-Tilney, Ludovic (25 July 2014). "Irmler/Liebezeit: Flut – review". Financial Times.
  12. ^ Kubanke, Ulf (12 September 2013). "Spinnweben an der Skiptaste". laut.de (in German).
  13. ^ Gluck, Jeremy (12 November 2013). "The Obscure Department: the 3rd Mind of Robert Coyne and Jaki Liebezeit". Mudkiss Fanzine. Archived from the original on 8 January 2020. Retrieved 11 October 2017.
  14. ^ "Can Drummer Jaki Liebezeit Dead at 78". Pitchfork. 22 January 2017. Retrieved 22 January 2017.
  15. ^ Philharmonie, Kölner. "Jaki Liebezeit – A Tribute". Kölner Philharmonie. Retrieved 10 October 2017.