January 29, 2023

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Yellow Magic Orchestra drummer Yukihiro Takahashi dies aged 70

Yukihiro Takahashi, the influential musician, drummer and singer who co-founded the Yellow Magic Orchestra, has died, the Japan Times reports. Takahashi underwent surgery in August 2020 to remove a brain tumor. The following year, he announced that he was suffering from additional health problems. Takahashi was trying to recover at his home in Karzuizawa, Nagano Prefecture, but in early January he developed pneumonia that got worse, according to Japanese publication Sponichi. Takahashi was 70 years old.

Born on June 6, 1952, Yukihiro Takahashi was drawn to music thanks to the influence of his older brother, Nobuyuki. He learned to drum by playing with college musicians at parties while he was still in junior high. By the time he turned 16, Takahashi began working professionally as a studio musician, recording drum parts for television commercials, and began taking gigs in other bands.

Takahashi first gained mainstream attention in Japan in the 1970s when he was drummer in the Sadistic Mika Band. As a drummer, American dance music was “a huge influence” at the time, and he was drawn to pop, soul and Motown. After the group disbanded, Takahashi hired Ryuichi Sakamoto to produce Saravah!, his 1977 debut solo album that drew inspiration from French pop. That same year, the two were hired by Haruomi Hosono to record on his own album Paraiso, credited to Harry Hosono and the Yellow Magic Band. In 1978 the three musicians officially founded the Yellow Magic Orchestra together.

Yellow Magic Orchestra released their self-titled debut album after forming in 1978. The use of computer technology, synthesizers and video game samples was immediately unique and sparked both national and international interest in the band. Yellow Magic Orchestra is therefore widely considered a seminal album in the synthpop genre, selling over 250,000 copies in Japan, charting on both the Billboard 200 and the Billboard R&B Albums charts, and featuring its single “Computer Game / Firecracker”. became a Top 20 hit in the UK

Yellow Magic Orchestra followed up their landmark debut with 1979’s Solid State Survivor. The band released a total of seven albums during their first run, including 1980’s ×∞ Multiplies, 1981’s BGM and Technodelic, and Naughty Boys and Service” from 1983. When Yellow Magic Orchestra first reunited in 1992, they got to work in the studio writing and recording their 1993 comeback album Technodon, though label troubles prevented them from releasing it under their original name . It was the first of many records to be released under names such as YMO (crossed out with a capital “x”), Human Audio Sponge and HASYMO.