Influential musician Yukihiro Takahashi was one of the pioneers of electronic music. He died at the age of 70.
Yukihiro Takahashi, drummer and lead singer of electronic music pioneers Yellow Magic Orchestra, has died aged 70.
Takahashi’s office issued a statement to JapanTimes and at the NHK confirming Takahashi’s death on January 11, citing pneumonia as the cause. Takahashi previously revealed that he underwent surgery to remove a brain tumor in 2020.
Takahashi, who was born in Tokyo, launched his career in the early 1970s, performing with his brother, Nobuyuki Takahashi, in the band Buzz and the glam-rock group Sadistic Mika Band, which he joined after the departure of the original drummer. The band found success in the UK, opening for Roxy Music on their tour Siren in 1975-76. They have also appeared on television and radio BBC. When the group disbanded, Takahashi continued with some of its members as Sadistics, and released two studio albums before disbanding.
In 1978, Takahashi, the keyboardist/singer Ryuichi Sakamoto and bassist/keyboardist/vocalist Haruomi Hosono (previously members of famous Japanese rock bands Apryl Fool and Happy End) team up to form supergroup Yellow Magic Orchestra. Using synthesizers, sequencers and drum machines, the trio pioneered the electronic genre, ushering in the electronic sound of the 1980s. They drew inspiration from other pioneers in this field, such as Kraftwerk and Giorgio Moroder.
Their single ” computer games which features on their self-titled debut album, became a surprise hit around the world, entering the Top 20 in the UK and making waves in the US. YMO’s second album, Solid State Survivor, was released in 1979 and included English lyrics written by Chris Mosdell. The success of the album outside of Japan also allowed YMO to be invited on Soul Trainwhich resulted in a memorable performance and a now-viral interview between Takahashi and host Don Cornelius:
YMO continued its career over the next decade with a string of releases (including Xoo Multiplies in 1980, the two albums BGM and Technodelic in 1981, and Service and Naughty Boys in 1983) but disbanded despite its enormous popularity, as the trio sought to pursue their initial solo careers; however, they continued to perform together in their solo projects, with Hosono and Sakamoto appearing on Takahashi’s first four solo albums.
In 1980, embracing the emerging genres of synth-pop and city pop, Takahashi released his second solo album Murdered By the Music, featuring members of his band YMO, with English lyrics by Mosdell. The following year he released Neuromanticwith Phil Manzanera and Andy Mackay of Roxy Music, as well as his solo hit “ Drip Dry Eyes “. Takahashi then collaborated with Be-Bop Deluxe’s Bill Nelson and his colleagues at YMO to What, Me Worry? released in 1982.
Yukihiro Takahashi also formed the Beatniks in 1981 with Keiichi Suzuki (Moonriders) and released Exitentialismthe debut album in what would be a decades-long collaboration.
In the second half of the 1980s, Takahashi also branched out into film, soundtracks and video game music.
In the 2000s, he teamed up with Hosono to form Sketch Show, and Sakamoto joined them in 2004 to form Human Audio Sponge.
In 2014, Takahashi toured with a supergroup known as Metafive, which released a studio album, an EP and a concert album in the latter half of the decade. They released the single “ Environmental in 2020. Takahashi went on hiatus to undergo brain surgery for a tumor shortly after the song’s release.
After the news of Yukihiro Takahashi’s death, his bandmate YMO Sakamoto posted a gray square on social media.
— ryuichi sakamoto (@ryuichisakamoto) January 14, 2023
Althea Legaspi, Daniel Kreps
Translated by the editor
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