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Warren Reginald Cann (born 20 May 1950, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada) is a drummer and drum machine programmer, best known as a member of the British new wave band Ultravox.
The son of two British immigrants, he began to be interested in electronics while he was at school. After playing in bands in Vancouver, he came to England in 1972, where he found a more creative environment.
He established himself in London, where he formed his first band, along with Huw Lloyd-Langton, future Hawkwind member, on guitar and Rob Rawlinson, later in Overnight Angels, on bass.
Shortly thereafter, Cann contacted John Foxx, who invited Cann to join his fledgling band Tiger Lily with bassist Chris Cross and guitarist Stevie Shears. The band recorded sole single "Ain't Misbehavin'", which was released in 1975 and used as a main theme to the namesake softcore porno movie. In 1976, Tiger Lily changed its name to Ultravox!, and later in 1978 to Ultravox.
Cann played on the first albums released by Island Records, Ultravox! (1977), Ha! Ha! Ha! (both 1977) and Systems of Romance (1978). After a tour of USA and Canada the band fragmented because of the departure of vocalist John Foxx and guitarist Robin Simon. Ultravox replaced them with singer/guitarist Midge Ure in Summer 1979.
During a period of inactivity for Ultravox in mid' 1979 Cann got to know German keyboardist Hans Zimmer, who became his frequent collaborator through mid 80's. Together they played in the backing band of a singer Zaine Griff and appeared with Buggles on their first Top of the Pops appearance in September 1979.
Ure-led Ultravox signed to Chrysalis in 1980 and went on to have a big commercial success worldwide (except for North America). Cann played a notable part in the early advance of the band: he contributed lyrics to 2/3 of the first Ure-led album "Vienna", sang backing vocals, co-lead and even lead on some Ultravox songs: "Mr. X" (1980), "Paths and Angles" (1981), "We Came to Dance" (1982) and "Break Your Back" 1983).
Cann's last appearance with Ultravox was on Live Aid in July 1985. He was ousted from the band in 1986 after the disagreements arose with other band members who started to consider him a problem in the progress of the band (Cann wanted a fully programmed percussion sound while the others preferred a "back-to-basics" approach; that was coupled with his ambition to become a second guitarist in the band and generally troubled rehearsals). In his autobiography, Midge Ure later commented that in retrospect he considered the firing unjust, unwarranted, and a result of misplaced tensions.
Cann and his technicians were among the first to modify commercially available rhythm units or drum machines, so they could alter and override the preset manufacturer programs. This is notable on "Hiroshima Mon Amour", from the album Ha!-Ha!-Ha!. When Ultravox were recording Vienna, Cann's electronic ventures would become important for the Ultravox sound. The acquisition of a Roland CR-78 proved something of a headache for Cann, as he saw great sonic potential in it, but it had limited pattern programmability. In the process of adding some much needed practical customisations to the CR-78, Cann became somewhat persona non grata at the Roland headquarters in the UK. This did not stop Cann from carrying out his plans, and the result proved to be a key factor in the overall sound of their signature hit song "Vienna".
In addition to his drum machine work, Cann designed several modifications for bass player Chris Cross' Minimoog, among them a primitive sequencer (built by Roy Gwinn) made from a series of toggle switches to add syncopation to the synthesizer's ability to create a stream of eighth notes, and a proprietary triggering system that allowed Cann and Cross to synchronise the Minimoog with Cann's drum machines, a feat performed almost three years before MIDI was officially introduced in 1983. According to Midge Ure's autobiography, when the Minimoog broke down on tour, Ultravox borrowed one from The Cars, but it didn't help as it lacked the proprietary modifications.