Mick Karn, Bassist for Synth Heroes Japan and Peter Murphy's Dalis Car, Dead at 52
[Updated with reaction to Karn's passing. First posted at 12:27 p.m.]
Mick Karn, best known as the bassist for influential synth pop outfit Japan died on January 4 at the age of 52. The following is the statement from his website:
It's with profound sadness that we have to inform you that Mick finally lost his battle with cancer and passed away peacefully at 4.30pm today, 4th January 2011 at home in Chelsea, London. He was surrounded by his family and friends and will be deeply missed by all.
Born Andonis Michaelides, Mick Karn rose to prominence in the late 1970s as bassist for the seminal synth pop outfit Japan. Fusing glam rock and electronic influences, Japan proved to be innovators in the U.K.'s post-punk landscape. The 1979 album Quiet Life ultimately predicts both the look and the sound that would dominate pop music in the decade to follow.
After Japan's demise, Karn collaborated with Bauhaus vocalist Peter Murphy on Dalis Car. The duo recorded only one album, The Waking Hour, but both the album and its single, "The Judgement is the Mirror," gained a cult following.
Throughout the years, Karn continued to work with a wide variety of artists, including Kate Bush and Gary Numan.
Since news of Karn's passing broke earlier today, friends, fans and fellow musicians have taken to Twitter and Facebook to express their condolences.
From Karn's former bandmate David Sylvian's official Facebook page.
Curt Smith of Tears for Fears mentioned the impact Japan had on his band's debut album.
Undoubtedly, Karn's work had a profound influence on both musicians and music fans. Below are two of my own favorites from him.
Japan was a band name I had often heard in passing, but never quite grasped until a friend mentioned Quiet Life. I found a vinyl copy, listened to it and then, all of a sudden, everything about the new wave bands that I so loved made sense. It was all based on this, or at least much of it was. The title track remains a favorite of mine, a slick, sophisticated slice of a future that had already passed by the time I heard it.
My first real exposure to Karn's work was sometime in the mid-'90s, when I first heard Dalis Car. Karn's collaboration with Peter Murphy might have slipped under the radar for many, but if you were a goth kid you at least knew "The Judgement is the Mirror," even though more than ten years had passed since it was released. The song's slow and seductive rhythm made it perfect for the clubs we frequented. Listening to this again, I can still see images of people twirling and dipping on the dance floor as this played.
Please feel free to share your memories of Karn and his music in the comment section.
Get the Music Newsletter
Keep your thumb on the local music scene each week with music news, trends, artist interviews and concert listings. We'll also send you special ticket offers and music deals.