X Japan Ekkusu Japan) is a Japanese band founded in 1982 by Toshimitsu "Toshi" Deyama and Yoshiki Hayashi. Originally named X (), the group achieved its breakthrough success in 1989 with the release of their second album Blue Blood. They started out as a power/speed metal band and later gravitated towards a progressive sound, at all times retaining an emphasis on ballads. After three more albums, X Japan disbanded in 1997.
Besides being one of the first Japanese acts to achieve mainstream success while on an independent label, the group is widely credited for pioneering the visual kei movement, though most of the group's members toned down their on-stage attire in later years. They were formerly known for their excessively large hairstyles resembling fountains. As of 2007, the band has sold over twenty million records and over two million home videos.
On 4 June 2007 it was announced the band would reunite with a new song released via digital download in January 2008 and live performances scheduled for March and May.
Promotional shot of X, showing the group's distinct appearance. Left to right: Toshi, Taiji, Yoshiki, Pata, hide.
X was founded in 1982 while vocalist Toshi and drummer Yoshiki were attending high school together. The band began to actively perform live in the Tokyo area in 1985, its lineup at that time being completed by a number of changing support musicians. A first single, titled "I'll Kill You" was released on Dada Records in June and in November of the same year, the group contributed the song "Break the Darkness" to the samplers Heavy Metal Force III.
To ensure a continuous outlet for the band's publications, Yoshiki founded the independent label Extasy Records in the following year on which a second single, "Orgasm", was released. The songs "Stab Me in the Back" and "No Connexion", recorded for the 1987 Victor Records sampler Skull Thrash Zone Volume I mark the group's first material featuring Tomoaki "Pata" Ishizuka as a support guitar player. He formally joined the group later that year. Likewise, guitarist Hideto "hide" Matsumoto and bassist Taiji Sawada both briefly performed with X on separate occasions before completing the group's first steady lineup.
On 26 December 1987, the band participated in an audition held by CBS Sony which would lead to a recording contract with the label signed in August of the following year. In the meantime, the band released its first album, Vanishing Vision through Extasy Records on 14 April 1988 and toured extensively in support of the record. The band also appeared in a cameo in the film Tokyo Pop, starring Carrie Hamilton and Diamond Yukai.
X's second album Blue Blood was released on 21 April 1989 and spawned several singles, such as "Kurenai" and "Endless Rain", as well as the group's first home video release, a VHS titled Blue Blood Tour Bakuhatsu Sunzen Gig, containing one of the concerts of the subsequent tour. Recordings for the follow-up album Jealousy took place in Los Angeles. It was released on 1 July 1991 and followed by the band's first performance in Japan's largest indoor concert venue, the Tokyo Dome. Footage from most of the band's numerous shows in that stadium would later be released on CD and VHS/DVD.
By 1992 the band's success in Japan made an international breakthrough appear likely enough to warrant the renaming to "X Japan", in order to distinguish the group from the United States punk band X. Around the same time Taiji left the group and was replaced by Hiroshi "Heath" Morie. Taiji went on to work with Loudness and Cloud Nine.
1993?1997: X Japan
The X Japan logo, used by the band's after the name change in 1992.
For the release of its next album, X Japan left Sony and signed a deal with Atlantic Records. Art of Life was released on 28 August 1993, notable for containing only the 29 minutes long title track, which would only be performed three times for a live audience. Another studio album was not released until 4 November 1996, though Dahlia contained relatively little new material, given that singles included on the record had been coming out as early as a few months after Art of Life. Around that time, the group dropped most of its original visual kei aesthetics in favor of a more casual look. Dahlia would be the band's last major release, since vocalist Toshi had decided to leave the group, a subsequent dissolution being officially announced in September 1997. X Japan performed their farewell show at the Tokyo Dome on 31 December, making it the last of five consecutive New Year's Eves the group performed in that stadium.
Much has been made of Toshi's departure, including allegations of him joining a cult and being influenced by it. Toshi has since refuted such claims, stating that his decision to leave X Japan dated back as far as April 1996, more than a year before he met the organization's leader, Masaya and that the glamorous, success-oriented life of a rock star failed to satisfy him emotionally, as opposed to a simpler life and career.
While reissues, compilations and live footage continued to be released, the members of X Japan pursued various other projects: hide, who had been releasing solo albums since 1994's Hide Your Face, continued his solo career as hide with Spread Beaver, now formally including his previous live band and with a sound distinctively different from X Japan's music, leaning more towards alternative rock. But the new group did not last long, due to hide's death in May 1998.
Toshi has released several solo albums, along with numerous acoustic performances for smaller audiences. According to his website, his Utatabi Traveling Concert tour has included over 3.000 concerts, between 1999 and 2003.
Pata and Heath, along with Spread Beaver percussionist/programmer I.N.A., founded Dope Headz in 2001 which released two albums but then ceased activity. The trio also provided a track for the hide tribute album Tribute Spirits. Heath is currently pursuing a solo career and Pata is a member of RAIN (Rock and Inspiration).
Before the X Japan breakup, Yoshiki had already independently collaborated with Queen drummer Roger Taylor on the single "Foreign Sand" and provided the Japanese contribution to the international Kiss tribute album Kiss My Ass, an orchestral arrangement of the song "Black Diamond". A compilation with orchestral treatments of X Japan songs, titled Eternal Melody was also released. It was performed by the London Philharmonic Orchestra and among others featured The Beatles producer George Martin as an arranger.
Since 1998 Yoshiki has engaged in numerous activities, such as being briefly a member of the pop band Globe, producing singles for the Korean rock band TRAX and working on his solo project Violet UK, which as of 2007 had not yet published a major release. He has also contributed music to the movie Catacombs and will be producing the soundtrack of Repo! The Genetic Opera. On 25 May 2007, the formation of the supergroup S.K.I.N. was announced, which besides Yoshiki consists of pop/rock artists Gackt and Miyavi, as well as former Luna Sea guitarist Sugizo. The band gave its debut at the Anime Expo convention in Long Beach, California on 29 June 2007.
2007 to present: Reunion
In March 2007 Toshi announced on his website that he and Yoshiki had recently resumed working together, stating that a "new project" would commence soon. An X Japan reunion was officially confirmed on 4 June 2007, with Yoshiki announcing a tour, as well as a new single (a re-recording of the song "Without You", originally from Yoshiki's 2005 solo album Eternal Melody II) to be underway and that he was in talks with Heath and Pata regarding their participation.
The band made its first public appearance on 22 October 2007, on the rooftop of the shopping center Aqua City in Odaiba, Tokyo, during which a music video for the newly recorded song "I.V." was filmed. "I.V." also appears on the soundtrack of the movie Saw IV. It is written by Yoshiki and recorded with all living X Japan members of the pre-breakup lineup. Previously unreleased guitar tracks by hide were used for the lead guitar part. "I.V." was released through the iTunes Store on 23 January 2008, topping the store's daily charts on that day. It is also set to be included in an upcoming greatest hits compilation, along with the previously announced "Without You". When asked whether there would be further new material Yoshiki gave it a "fifty-fifty" chance. Regarding the vacant lead guitar part it was initially stated in June 2007 that about ten guitarists were to fill in for the late hide during concerts, yet no names were mentioned. Yoshiki was later quoted that a guitarist not from Japan and/or a "new face" may be performing with the band.
On 20 January 2008 two Tokyo Dome concert dates were announced, 28 March and 30 March respectively. A third show, scheduled for 29 March, was later added to accommodate demand. The 28 March concert aired live on the pay television channel WOWOW, with a DVD release set to follow, guitarists performing with X Japan during these three concerts were Wes Borland of Black Light Burns, Richard Fortus of Guns N' Roses and Sugizo, in addition to the use of old live footage of hide.
X Japan's reunion concert on March 29
Fortus and fellow Guns N' Roses member Robin Finck had previously covered "Endless Rain" as a guitar duet during the Japanese shows of their band's 2007 tour. Borland later commented on his blog that he felt "honored to have been part of the experience".
Due to technical difficulties the first concert was delayed for over two hours and later came to an abrupt end when drummer Yoshiki collapsed eight songs into the performance. The subsequent shows were without such difficulties and during a press conference, plans for a concert in Paris, France on 5 July 2008 were announced, with an intended audience of 20,000 people. X Japan also performed at the hide Memorial Summit, a two-day tribute concert that was held on 3 May and 4 May at the Ajinomoto Stadium and featured about twenty artists, including Dir en grey, Luna Sea and T.M. Revolution. It closed with a performance of the song "X" by members of X Japan, Luna Sea, Mucc, D'espairsRay and solo artist Takanori Nishikawa.
In addition to the Paris date, plans for concerts at the Madison Square Garden, New York City on 13 September, and at the Taipei World Trade Center, Taipei on 2 August were also confirmed. On 8 June it was reported that all previously scheduled shows have been postponed until further notice, due to Yoshiki suffering a relapse of a previous disc herniation and a worsening tendinitis. The Paris and Taipei concerts have since been rescheduled and they're set to take place at the Palais omnisports de Paris-Bercy in Paris, France on 22 November, 2008 and at the Taipei World Trade Center in Taipei, Taiwan on 14 February, 2009.
September 2008 - January 2009 : Postponements and Delays
On 15 September, 2008, Yoshiki held a press conference in Tokyo, at which he announced a new, currently unnamed X Japan song to be in the works, that the band would be featured in the Japanese version of the upcoming music video game Rock Band 2, as well as available as downloadable Content for the English version, and that it would be performing concerts on Christmas and New Year's Eve, respectively. After the conference and facing a short delay due to unsuitable weather for travelling, Yoshiki went on a promotional tour across Asia to finalize dates for concerts at the AsiaWorld-Expo in Hong Kong on January 17, at the Suphachalasai Stadium in Bangkok on January 31, at the Taipei World Trade Center in Taipei on February 14, and at the Olympic Stadium in Seoul on March 21 and 22. A later development of these plans came in the form of a second date being added at the same venue the following night to the announced concert in Seoul. Yoshiki also remarked on the possibility of further concerts in mainland China, Germany and United States, a potential venue for the first of aforementioned concerts was named as the Beijing National Stadium, having recently served as host to the 2008 Summer Olympics.
It later transpired that the Christmas eve concert plans were to be extended to two consecutive nights and held at Saitama Super Arena with an extra concert on Christmas day being added to the previous schedule. These concerts were to make use of a full orchestra, the first time the band had organised a show of this manner for seventeen years.
The announced New Years Eve concert for 31 December was not expected to take place at the Tokyo Dome, the home of X Japan's previous five year consecutive run of concerts on the particular date, as the pop band News had been scheduled to fill the said position. Giving clarity to the situation Yoshiki announced during a television interview that X Japan would be performing at the live house Akasaka Blitz, a surprising choice to many fans due to its small attendance capacity in comparison to that of recent X Japan shows. The reasoning given for the said choice was described as being a desire by the band to return to its grass-roots and to provide a more intimate concert setting for the attending fans.
On October 31 media outlets in Japan began to report that the title for the world tour would be "Final ~ To end our pain" and that it would appear likely that the band would separate once again after completing concert dates around the world. While no party attached with the band have yet to directly comment on this speculation, it contradicts a response which Yoshiki made during a recent Japanese television interview where he answered that X Japan would continue for "as long as my body can take it".
On the French ticketing website Avos billets announced that the planned ticket sale for the scheduled X Japan show in Paris was to be cancelled as the November 22nd was to be postponed once again. Later that day, X Japan released a press statement through their French language website in which they apologised for the second postponement and also announced that the planned Christmas shows were to suffer a likewise fate. The statement noted that X Japan had transferred full control of the world tour to Irving Azoff and his management agency, who then made the executive decision to reschedule the aforementioned shows. Although new dates were not given, the statement announced that they would embark on a nationwide tour of Japan in the spring and that the band would play further dates in Europe and Scandinavia, along with fulfilling the New Year's Eve concert. Previously announced tour dates in Asia are also planned.
These announced plans can be supplemented with the information that a recent internet marketing research campaign launched by a company working on behalf of Yoshiki has claimed that X Japan will be touring in North America in the summer of 2009.
In December it was announced that the Thailand concert was postponed until further notice due to the recent political turmoil in the country.
In early January the previously announced Taiwan concert date was also postponed for a second time, with the band's management citing a potential safety issue involving the venue as the impetus of the postponement.
January 2009 to Present: World Tour
On X Japan performed their New Years eve countdown performance at the Akasaka Blitz, performing a set list which included older material and also announcing the plans for the upcoming year. Plans for the world tour in 2009 were reiterated with the formal announcement of supplemental concerts in Los Angeles, Germany and Finland in addition to their previously announced tour schedule. While these locations where announced, dates or specific venues were not forthcoming.
On the band arrived in Hong Kong ahead of their opening tour performances on and .
It was recently announced the two shows planned for South Korea were postponed. A newspaper in Japan also reported that Heath was using his lawyers to change his contractual obligations, and if an agreement was not reached, Heath would depart from X Japan. Many of the fans are pointing to this as the reason why the South Korea shows are being postponed.
On May 1, an official announcement was made which confirmed that Sugizo was officially joining X Japan. The announcement said that Sugizo was joining as a 6th member, rather than as a replacement for the deceased lead guitarist Hide. Heath also made a public apology about the recent rumour of his leaving X Japan and reassured fans that he would remain with X Japan.
On May 2 and 3, the band held two live shows at Tokyo Dome. Both shows were completely sold out. The yoshikitty, a collaboration between Yoshiki and Hello Kitty, was officially sold. Only 100 pieces were sold on each day. X Japan performed their newest song, Jade, during the live shows.
On May 30, the band did their first live show with 6 members in Taiwan. But the new song, Jade, was not played. Toshi also said: "see you again!" at the end of concert.
A fast song from the album Blue Blood.
A ballad from the album Dahlia.
X Japan's music developed in the wake of the success of American and British glam and heavy metal bands and is characterized by hard-driving power metal compositions (e.g. "Kurenai", "Silent Jealousy"), as well as emotional ballads (e.g. "Endless Rain", "Forever Love"). Many of the group's songs make heavy use of piano-driven, orchestrated passages, particularly longer tracks such as the ten and a half minute "Tears" and the twenty-nine minute "Art of Life".
The majority of the band's catalog of music was written by Yoshiki with relatively few compositions coming from the other members of the band. Bassist Taiji and guitarist hide contributed several songs each with Pata's only sole claim being "White Wind from Mr. Martin ~Pata's Nap~" and Toshi's only contribution being lyrics for a small number of songs. Bassist Heath's only writing credit comes in the form of the instrumental song "Wriggle" on the 1996 album Dahlia, a song he is said to have created via a collaboration with Pata. In X Japan's entire musical catalog only one song is credited as a full band collaboration, that being "Easy Fight Rambling", a song on the 1989 album Blue Blood
Yoshiki's composing style tends to make use of chords in sequences of eights with frequent uses of riff based motifs and call and response phrasing throughout the structure of a song. For the most part he has maintained this style for the majority of his career as a composer. Having played classical piano since he was 4 years old and once aspiring to study in a classical music academy, Yoshiki claims to be as influenced by classical music as he is by rock music, a claim which is fairly evident when looking over the entire volume of music put out by the band. While also serving as the main song writer Yoshiki has production credit on virtually all of X Japan's music, a fact that is embellished by the knowledge that all studio releases by the band from 1990 onwards have been recorded and produced in his privately owned recording studio in Los Angeles.
During live performances the band relies, for the most part, solely on its members (with drummer and pianist Yoshiki switching between instruments) and prerecorded tracks, e.g. for orchestral strings, spoken word passages, and more recently, most of Hide's guitar parts.
As with numerous other Japanese bands, the members of X Japan are usually credited with their given or stage names.
Toshimitsu "Toshi" Deyama Deyama Toshimitsu) ? vocals (1982-1997,2007-present)
Tomoaki "Pata" Ishizuka ( Ishizuka Tomoaki) ? guitar (1987-1997,2007-present)
Y?ne "Sugizo" Sugihara ( Sugihara Y?ne) ? guitar, violin, backing vocals (2008-present)
Hiroshi "Heath" Morie ( Morie Hiroshi) ? bass, backing vocals (1992-1997,2007-present)
Yoshiki Hayashi ( Hayashi Yoshiki) ? drums, piano (1982-1997,2007-present)
Hideto "Hide" Matsumoto (???? Matsumoto Hideto) ? guitar, backing vocals (1987-1997) ?
Taiji Sawada (???? Sawada Taiji) ? bass, backing vocals (1985,1986-1992)
Hisashi Takai (Jun/Shu) - Guitar (1985,1986)
Hikaru - Bass (1985-1986)
Yuji Izumisawa (Yuji) - Guitar (1982-1985) ?
Tomoyuki Ogata (Tomo) - Guitar (1984-1985)
Atsushi Tokuo (Tely) - Bass (1984-1985)
Hally (????) - Guitar (1985)
Zen - Guitar (1985-1986)
Kerry - Guitar (1986)
Satoru - Guitar (1986)
Isao - Guitar (1987)
??? - Bass (1982-1983)
All X JAPAN lyrics
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