Asian News 12/14

Loudness Leader Dies

Munetaka Higuchi, the leader of Japanese hard rock band Loudness, died in Osaka on Nov. 30 from liver cancer.

Higuchi, 49, formed Loudness in 1981 with guitarist Akira Takasaki after the two disbanded a previous pop-oriented group.

The band attained notoriety in the United States with their fifth album, Thunder In The East, which was released in 1985 and got as far as No. 74 on the charts the following year. Higuchi left the group in the ’90s but rejoined in 2000.

Loudness is said to have influenced Superstar rock bands like X Japan and B’z.

Higuchi’s cancer was diagnosed last spring, and he had been in and out of hospitals ever since.



Two veteran Japanese pop stars gave marathon concerts the first week of December.

Kenji Sawada celebrated his 60th birthday with his first-ever concert at Tokyo Dome in front of 32,000 fans.

Sawada was the lead singer of the Tigers, probably the most popular band during the Ventures- and Beatles-inspired Group Sounds movement of the late ’60s.

Nicknamed “Julie,” Sawada went on to enjoy a very successful solo career in the ’70s and ’80s.

His Dec. 3 Tokyo Dome show began at 3 p.m. and continued for six hours and 40 minutes, comprising 80 songs covering his entire career. It is the longest concert ever to be held at Tokyo Dome.

Keisuke Kuwata, eight years Sawada’s junior, spent only half as long on stage at Pacifico Yokohama on the same day, but his three hour-plus set still managed to squeeze in 60 songs.

Kuwata, the leader of the Southern All Stars, which recently called it quits after 30 years, was staging his annual Act Against AIDS charity concert to mark the worldwide AIDS awareness day.


Enya Added To NYE Bash

“Kohaku Utagassen,” Japan’s traditional New Year’s Eve song contest broadcast live by public broadcaster NHK, announced its lineup in late November.

Irish singer Enya is the first Western performer to be invited to the show since 1991. She is scheduled to perform during a section of the program dedicated to environmental issues.

Other surprises were included in the lineup. Although “Kohaku” is considered the biggest pop music event of the year in Japan and the ultimate honor for most Japanese musicians, some top names have repeatedly but politely ignored invitations over the years. Two to do so are Keisuke Kuwata (probably because his own band played their own annual New Year’s Eve show in Yokohama) and the region’s No. 1 rock band of all time, B’z.

However, this year, one of the holdouts, Mr. Children, has finally thrown in the towel and agreed to appear after turning down NHK 15 times.

Also, the African-American enka singer Jero will sing on the show, fulfilling his and his Japanese grandmother’s dreams and capping an incredibly successful debut year.

In addition, the popular Korean boy band DBSK will also perform.