Sakuma Masahide (1952-2014): The Renaissance Man of J-Rock

SAKUMA Masahide

SAKUMA Masahide

Update: Sakuma Masahide passed away on January 16, 2014, three months after his concert in Chicago. His was a remarkable life, and a remarkable death–one that demonstrated that dying is really a part of living. We are honored that he shared some of his time with us in Chicago.


Sakuma Masahide (佐久間正英) appeared with Hayakawa Yoshio in our concert at 7:30 p.m. on October 18, 2013. A few words about Sakuma’s amazing career are certainly in order. He was a key figure in the history of Japanese popular music in many different guises–most notably, perhaps, as producer for more than 140 different acts that range across the spectrum, including such notable musicians as the Blue Hearts, BOØWY, HY, Judy and Mary, Teresa Teng, Glay, Soul Flower Union, Watanabe Misato, and L’Arc〜en〜Ciel. Continue reading

The Music of Hayakawa Yoshio 5: “Music”

MUSICWith the song “Music” (Ongaku), Hayakawa returns to a theme he’s explored in a number of compositions: the basic purpose of music. Suspicious of attempts to analyze his art rationally, Hayakawa seeks the meaning of music at a more basic, erotic level of emotion and physical existence. Musically, the song enacts its lyrical sentiment, stripping the arrangement down to the very basics:  pulsating piano chords that underscore Hayakawa’s passionate vocals. Continue reading

The Music of Hayakawa Yoshio 2: “Salvia Flowers”

Salvia flowersby Michael Bourdaghs

The Jacks broke up after releasing two studio albums, and in 1969 Hayakawa recorded his first solo album, “Things That Are Cool Are Somehow So Uncool” (Kakko ii koto wa nan ka kakko warui darō). Released on the underground URC label, the LP received widespread acclaim, with critics in particular singling out the track “Salvia Flowers” (サルビアの花), with music by Hayakawa and lyrics by Aizawa Yasuko, for praise. Whereas The Jacks’ music had been primarily guitar-based, for his solo debut Hayakawa switched to piano as his main instrument. Continue reading

The Music of Hayakawa Yoshio 1: “Love Generation”

by Michael Bourdaghs

“Love Generation” (「ラブ・ゼネレーション」) with lyrics and music by Hayakawa, was a stand-out track on Vacant World [Jakkusu no sekai, 1968], the celebrated debut album by The Jacks, Hayakawa’s 1960s folk-rock group. With Hayakawa’s searing vocals, Mizuhashi Haruo’s psychedelic guitar, Tanino Hitoshi’s fluid bass, and Kida Takasuke’s jazz-influenced drumming, the original recording is an excellent example of the dark, moody style of The Jacks that captivated audiences on the underground music scene of late 1960s Japan. Continue reading