Mick Karn, Bassist For Synth Icons Japan, Dead At 52

    After a long battle with cancer, Mick Karn, best known as the bassist for innovative synth pop outfit Japan, passed away earlier today (Jan. 4).


    Last June, it was announced on Karn’s official website that he was diagnosed with advanced stage cancer. He had been struggling financially in recent years — which partly prompted his move from London to Cyprus in 2004 — and an appeal had been set up for fans to make donations. Numerous friends, admirers, and former colleagues (most notably Midge Ure, Ultravox frontman and Band Aid mastermind) attempted to arrange large-scale fundraising concerts.


    An official statement was posted 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 4:30 PM today, 4th January 2011, at home in Chelsea, London. He was surrounded by his family and friends and will be deeply missed by all. 

    While they may not have had the crossover appeal as their early-’80s pop contemporaries (Duran Duran, for one), Japan is highly regarded as one of the most influential bands of the New Romantic era — particularly the band’s 1982 swan song, the Asian-tinged Tin Drum. After the band split that same year, Karn went on to form Dalis Car with Bauhaus frontman Peter Murphy and work as a session musician for Gary Numan, Kate Bush, and Joan Armatrading. He is widely regarded as a pioneer of the fretless bass, as observed below on the Old Grey Whistle Test with Japan: