Nu är jag i den åldern att när mina hjältar dör så är det inte unga, rebelliska och i form av en vackert lik. Saknade för vad de aldrig han åstadkomma. Nej, de dör av ålderdom, cancer och andra helt normala anledningar.
Världen har inte längre kvar sin ende ögonbrynslöse, cypriotiske basist. Mick Karn lämnade in efter en lång tids kamp mot cancer.
Mick Karn obituary
Mick Karn, who has died of cancer aged 52, rose to fame as a member of the group Japan and played the bass guitar with such a subtle, intelligent artistry that he became one of the most highly respected British musicians of the 1980s. Although Karn’s time in the pop spotlight was relatively brief, he continued to make adventurous music throughout his life.
Japan was formed in the early 1970s by Karn, David Batt, Rob Dean, Steve Jansen and Richard Barbieri, pupils at Catford boys’ school, south-east London. Batt, changing his surname to Sylvian, sang and provided most of the songs. The band modelled their sound on glam rock and developed an androgynous image. Their 1978 debut album Adolescent Sex was widely derided by the UK music press, but it sold well in Japan, the Netherlands and Germany. Later that year, the album Obscure Alternatives met with a similar reaction. Quiet Life (1979) showed the band developing more interesting musical textures. They began to win critical praise and be seen as part of the New Romantic movement then developing in London clubs.
Karn was Japan’s most gifted musician, playing with fluid grace and an unusual sense of melody and space. He mastered the fretless bass, prompting comparisons with Jaco Pastorius, the leading American jazz-funk bassist. Karn played a variety of wind instruments, including the saxophone and clarinet, on Japan recordings, and learned the Chinese suona.
By the time of their fourth album, Gentlemen Take Polaroids (1980), the band had signed to Virgin Records and completely changed their image and sound. Young and photogenic, Japan began to win a wide following, and the 1981 album Tin Drum reached No 12 in the UK charts, while the minimalist single Ghosts reached No 5. Their version of Smokey Robinson’s I Second That Emotion was a top 10 hit in 1982.
Tin Drum was widely hailed as a masterpiece by critics, and Japan found themselves both popular and heralded as originals, a band who had shaped a minimalist art rock music of remarkable tension and intelligence. Instead of enjoying their hard-won success, however, they turned upon one another, the situation exacerbated when Karn’s girlfriend moved in with Sylvian.
Japan announced they would split after the completion of a world tour. Their last release, the 1983 double live album Oil On Canvas, the band’s greatest success, reached No 5 in the UK charts and sold strongly internationally.
Karn was born Andonis Michaelides in Nicosia, Cyprus. His family moved to the UK when he was three, and he grew up in south-east London. Aged 11, he mastered the violin. He then learned the bassoon and passed an audition for the London Schools Symphony Orchestra. After his bassoon was stolen and his school refused to replace it, he rebelled against classical music by buying a bass guitar, for £5.
By the time the band split, Karn had already been working as a session musician for artists including Gary Numan, Kate Bush and Joan Armatrading. He released his first solo album, Titles, in 1982, and in 1984 recorded The Waking Hour – an album with Peter Murphy, formerly vocalist of the goth group Bauhaus – as Dalis Car. With Jansen and Barbieri, he formed the record label Medium Productions, and in 1991 Japan reformed, recording an album that was released as Rain Tree Crow – Sylvian refused to let the Japan name be used. While the album was well received, the clash of personalities between Sylvian and the other members meant nothing more came of this.
Karn was a self-taught sculptor and would occasionally exhibit his work. Financial troubles forced him to relocate to Cyprus in 2004. In 2009 he self-published his autobiography, Japan & Self Existence. When he discovered he had advanced cancer, he issued an appeal for financial help and fellow musicians raised funds that allowed him to return to London for treatment.
He is survived by his wife, Kyoko, and their son, Metis.
• Mick Karn (Andonis Michaelides), guitarist and songwriter, born 24 July 1958; died 4 January 2011
Adieu Mick. Relax & Swing. Sjävl spelar jag nu lite luftbas samtidigt som jag svänger på höfterna till ära av Mick K.