Kazuhiko Kato Found Hanged

Musician Kazuhiko Kato was found hanged in his hotel room in the resort town of Karuizawa, Japan, Oct. 17.

Police have ruled the death a suicide.

Kato, 62, was the co-founder and guiding light of The Folk Crusaders, one of the originators of the homegrown Japanese folk music boom of the late ’60s that eventually morphed into the so-called New Music scene that defined Japanese rock in the 1970s.

The Folk Crusaders’ hit “Kaette Kita Yopparai” (Returning Home Drunk) is considered the defining single of the folk movement, an irreverent underground record that broke into the mainstream and influenced pop music ever since.

In the ’70s, Kato founded the Sadistic Mika Band, one of the first Japanese rock groups to tour the U.K., where they opened for Roxy Music in 1975.

Over the years, the band broke up and reformed more times than anyone can count. Since the ’80s, Kato was a busy producer and soundtrack composer. He was married to lyricist Kazumi Yasui until her death from lung cancer in 1994.

Acquaintances interviewed by the media have said that Kato suffered from depression. His partner in The Folk Crusaders, who is now a psychiatrist, wrote an obituary of his old friend saying that Kato had an inflated opinion of his own worth that made it easy for him to be disappointed.

In his suicide notes (there were at least two), Kato reportedly said he no longer derived satisfaction from his music.