The Quietus - A new rock music and pop culture website

Tome On The Range

Give The Drummer Some: The Instruments Of Jaki Liebezeit
The Quietus , January 25th, 2020 07:28

In an exclusive extract from his new book, Jaki Liebezeit: Life, Theory and Practice of a Master Drummer, Jono Podmore takes us through the instruments that contributed to the former Can drummer's unique sound and playing style


An accordion may not appear initially to be the instrument of choice for a great drummer, but this one had a special significance for Jaki – it was his father’s and was among the few possessions Jaki and his mother took with them when they fled Ostrau after the war and headed west. It appears in one of the earliest photos we have of Jaki, as a toddler sitting with his father.

Jaki played it regularly and well, and initially had it with him in his practice room: hence the word NICHT just above the keys, a warning to lesser musicians to keep their hands well away. Eventually he took this increasingly delicate and slightly damaged instrument home with him.

It also serves to make an important point about Jaki’s skill as a drummer – that he had a deep and instinctive understanding of harmony and melody from his youth. Therefore his drumming would be in harmony (in the widest sense of the word) with all the other aspects of the music.