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Karn was born into a Greek Cypriot family, in Nicosia, Cyprus, as Andonis Michaelides, which was later modified to Antony Michaelides. He had an older brother and sister. In late October 1961, the family emigrated to London, England, when Andonis was three years old. He was educated at Catford Boys’ School, Catford, South East London where he was taught by William Newman-Norton, now the Metropolitan Seraphim of Glastonbury and Head of the Orthodox Church in the UK. Karn truanted from school occasionally with Jack Stafford (aka Jak Airport) of X-Ray Spex and Classix Nouveaux. Karn remained based in London until 24 May 2004, when he moved back to Cyprus with his wife and son, remaining there for six years before moving back to London in late 2010.
Karn was essentially a self-taught musician. His first musical instrument was bassoon, with which he attended and passed an LSSO audition. After his bassoon was stolen from him, he purchased a bass guitar for ₤5. It was then he joined up with David Batt (Sylvian), who played acoustic guitar.
Karn was principally the bassist within Japan, but also played all the wind instruments, including the saxophone; on Tin Drum, he played the Chinese suona (credited as ‘dida’) for the authentic oriental sound. 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.
Karn played an aluminium-neck Travis Bean bass on all Japan albums up to Gentlemen Take Polaroids. In 1981 he moved to Wal basses, purchasing two Mark I instruments, one with rare African tulipwood facings, the other a cherry solidbody. Karn recorded Japan’s last studio album Tin Drum with the Wal and had continued to use these, along with a headless Klein ‘K Bass’.
Please Note, This Track has been slightly sped up resulting in the pitch being altered. There are also two Basses at the top of the tune and possibly in the middle Break. I have Written the middle break as one bass.