Jaki Liebezeit, Drummer with Pioneering German Prog-Rockers Can, Dies at 78

Jaki Liebezeit
Brill/ullstein bild via Getty Images

Jaki Liebezeit

Jaki Liebezeit, drummer and founding member of the German prog-rock outfit Can, died Sunday (Jan. 22) after a battle with pneumonia. He was 78. 

Liebezeit worked on all Can's studio albums including the experimental act’s celebrated fifth LP from 1973, Future Days, and their biggest hit, "I Want More" (from Flow Motion), which peaked at No. 26 on the U.K. singles chart back in 1976.

The band’s influence, however, extends far beyond what their record sales and chart achievements would suggest. Can is revered as a pioneer of the so-called "Krautrock" movement, which blended rock, electronic and world music to create a sound and sonic style whose impact was felt for many years to come. 

Liebezeit worked with Manfred Schoof’s free jazz outfits prior to the creation of Can in Cologne in the late ’60s, and enjoyed a long career behind the kit and on percussion working with the likes of Jah Wobble, Brian Eno, Depeche Mode and Phantomband, and forming such acts as Drums off Chaos and Club off Chaos.

And he worked right until the end. Liebezeit last year released the collaborative album with Robert Coyne, I Still Have This Dream, through Meyer Records and he was due to perform with his Can bandmates Irmin Schmidt, Malcolm Mooney and Sonic Youth’s Thurston Moore for an April 8  show at London’s Barbican dubbed The Can Project.