Daily Archives: October 17, 2009

I read the news today, oh boy.

“Musician Kazuhiko Kato, founder of the Sadistic Mika Band which was internationally successful in the 1970s, was found hanged at a hotel in the resort town of Karuizawa in Nagano Prefecture on Saturday, police said.
The local police believe Kato, 62, who had stayed at the hotel, committed suicide. Kato was found by police officers and hotel employees after the hotel was unable to contact him and called the police in the morning.
An apparent suicide note was left in his room, according to the police.
Kato, known as a creator of innovative sound, started his recording career as a member of the Folk Crusaders in the 1960s. The band’s debut single, ”Kaettekita Yopparai,” with its English title ”I Only Live Twice,” named after James Bond movie ”You Only Live Twice,” was a big hit.
After the breakup of the Folk Crusaders, Kato formed the Sadistic Mika Band with his first wife Mika Fukui and other members, and was internationally successful in the 1970s.
The Sadistic Mika Band opened for Roxy Music on tour in Britain in 1975, becoming the first Japanese band to tour Britain. The Sadistic Mika Band has disbanded and reassembled several times.
Kato also performed as a solo musician, and served as composer and producer for other musicians.
He was nicknamed ”Tonovan” as he was known as a friend of Donovan Leitch, a Scottish singer-songwriter and a British folk icon in the 1960s.”

To say that Kato was a unique figure in Japanese culture is putting it mildly. He was a unique figure in world culture. A cat who walked very much alone he formed, disbanded and reformed his groups Folk Crusaders and Sadistic Mika Band as the spirit moved him. He also performed on his own.

What can one say about suicide? Notes were left (their contents as yet unrevealed) but it’s safe to say they may tell us nothing.

Three Ressurected Drunkards is in the West at least one of the least known of the films the insanely prolific Nagisa Oshima made in 1968 (the others being Death By Hanging and Diary of a Shinjuku Thief ) It was bsed on a news item about a trio of Japanese schoolboys who played hookie to go swimming. When they got back to shore they discovered their clothes had been stolen and replaced with outfits typically worn by Korean peasants. They put them on and as a result faced the verbal taunts and physical violence visited upon Koreans by the Japanese. Japanese anti-Koream prejudice was one of Oshima’s main filmmaking themes. Here it was undetaken through the use of a pop band making their movie debut. Imagine if Jean-Luc Godard had directed A Hard Day’s Night instread of Richard Lester and you’ve got it.

Here’s a sampling of Kato’s voluminous musical output.

A master has left the building.

Sing us out boys —