Born as Andonis Michaelides in Nicosia, Cyprus on 24 July 1958, Mick Karn moved to England when he was three years old. He was educated at Catford Boys’ School and formed the band Japan with fellow students David Sylvian, Richard Barbieri and Steve Jansen. They enjoyed considerable success until the band split up in 1982 as a result of tensions and personality conflicts between band members. Mick Karn went solo and released several albums both as a solo artist and as Jansen/Barbieri/Karn, a band made up of his old Japan bandmates minus David Sylvian.
Essentially a self-taught musician, Karn’s use of the fretless bass guitar, an unusual instrument in modern popular music, produces a distinctive sound and playing style, which makes his playing immediately recognisable.
In June 2010, Karn announced on his website that he had been diagnosed with advanced-stage cancer, though the specific type of cancer was not mentioned. According to David Torn, Karn’s cancer had apparently already spread and he was undergoing chemotherapy. However, the cancer had spread beyond the possibility of treatment, and Karn died at home in London on 4 January 2011.