Obits — January 4, 2011 at 3:35 pm

Mick Karn, of Japan and Dalis Car, 1958-2011

Mick Karn

Multi-instrumentalist Mick Karn — a peerless bassist who played in the acclaimed art-rock act Japan from the mid-’70s through the early ’80s and teamed up with Peter Murphy for the singer’s post-Bauhaus project Dalis Car — died today following a six-month battle with cancer. He was 52.

According to a statement posted on Karn’s 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 in Cyprus, Karn played with Japan from 1974 until its break-up  in 1982 after the band’s “Ghosts” single hit the Top 5. Following the break-up, Karn released a solo album and then joined Murphy in Dalis Car to record The Waking Hour in 1984.

Last fall, Murphy announced he’d reached out to his ailing former bandmate and planned, in September, to begin recording a second Dalis Car album. Murphy, in a note titled “Just for Love” posted on Facebook this evening, confirmed they worked together last fall.

Murphy wrote:

“It’s with great sadness and affection and that I hear the news of Mick Karn’s passing today. My Love goes out to Kyoko his wife, his son Metis and Mick’s unfailing assistant and close friend Debi Zornes who I had the pleasure to meet during the brief spell that Mick and I got to work together this past autumn. Mick’s wry sense of humour, keen creativity and graciousness were there even in the times of most physical distress. May he rest in the lap of Compassion.

“Till we meet again.”

Former Japan bandmate David Sylvian took to his own website this afternoon and wrote of Karn, “May his suffering be at an end, may he find eternal peace.”


  1. Good job posting a pic of Mick, who just died of CANCER, with a big ol’ CIGARETTE in his mouth.

  2. Thanks for all the slinky bass lines, Mick. RIP.

  3. How did I know some moron would complain about the photo?

    RIP Mick.

  4. I don’t know, I kind of agree with the first person. Although we don’t know what TYPE of cancer he died from, do we? Could be something other than lung cancer.

  5. He was a fantastically brilliant musician, and he was a smoker.
    And, if his death was related to smoking, all the more reason to have a visual to hopefully act as a deterrent.

  6. Let the man rest in peace!
    and who cares if he smoked? He was a brilliant and creative musician that lived his life as he saw fit.
    RIP Mick, you will be missed!

    • No one cares if he was a smoker, but if you want to have a good chance of shortening your life on this earth by 20 years go ahead a smoke.

  7. tricia powers

    Well, to change the subject completely, from a stylistic perspective, the photo was a good choice, because it is from the personal collection of Steven Jansen. You can find this and other poignant, cigarette-free shots here:

    Also, check these rather insightful interview with Karn on YouTube:

  8. Mike Nikolich

    I was saddened to hear about Mick’s passing. He was an innovative bassist and I own a copy of just about every song he’s recorded. My prayers go out to his family. Rest in peace, Mick.

  9. One of the most creative and colorful musicians ever to grace this good green earth. It still doesn’t even seem real. Everything Mick was ever been involved with has never strayed too far from any playlist I make – the beginning of the 80’s was when I was first introduced to Japan and Brand X… both of which were staffed by two of the most incredible fretless players ever. I haven’t put my own fretless down since.

    I was fortunate enough to see Mick when he was touring with Bill Bruford and David Torn out in San Francisco at the Great American Music Hall somewhere along the way. What an amazing show.

    By the way, I love the picture choice for this post.

    What a badass.

    Thanks for everything Mick.
    May you rest in peace.

  10. mayo villarreal

    Rest in peace karn

  11. Ten years later I still think of you and listen to your incredible bass lines more than I ever did. eleven years since I first heard them and I’m just now getting good enough on bass to play them! Yet you were only 22 when you wrote them!

    You are legend, Mick Karn!

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