Drums, Piano, Songwriter • Producer • 1982 – 1997, 2007 – Present
The heart of X Japan is Yoshiki – songwriter, drummer, and classically trained pianist who also plays guitar, bass and trumpet. Yoshiki, who has been referred to by his first name only throughout his entire professional career, is arguably Asia’s most influential musical artist and biggest rock icon. According to one industry insider, “Yoshiki is to Japan what Bono is to the UK.” His double-record classical album, Eternal Melody (1993), was co-produced and arranged by the legendary George Martin, recorded with the London Philharmonic Orchestra, and remains Japan’s biggest-selling classical release. For KISS My Ass: Classic KISS Regrooved, the 1994 KISS tribute album, Yoshiki arranged and produced “Black Diamond” as a piano concerto, prompting Rolling Stone magazine to comment in its CD review, “the ingenuity award must go to Yoshiki…” Yoshiki has produced some of Japan’s most influential bands, including Dir En Grey and Glay. At the request of the Japanese government in 1999, Yoshiki composed a piano concerto and performed it with a 77-piece orchestra to celebrate the tenth year of the Emperor of Japan’s reign. In 2005, he was named the Music Director for the 2005 World Expo, composed its theme song, and conducted the orchestra at the opening ceremonies. Yoshiki also wrote the X Japan song “I.V.” for the 2007 international blockbuster horror film “Saw IV,” which played over the film’s closing credits.
Beyond music, Yoshiki is an entrepreneur and a true renaissance man. He has overseen the development of a premiere line of Yoshiki jewelry, collaborated with the California Mondavi family to develop his own wine, “Y,” the Bank of Japan has issued a Yoshiki Visa Card and, for the first time in history, a Hello Kitty product line was named after a person – “Yoshikitty” – that became available in Japan in May 2010. In March 2011, Yoshiki co-produced an East-meets-west/fashion-meets-music event, “Asia Girls Explosion,” showcasing top fashion brands, and debuting his own line of kimonos, “Yoshikimono.” U.S. celebrities such as rocker Marilyn Manson and “90210” stars AnnaLynne McCord, Shenae Grimes and Jessica Stroup walked the runway. Yoshiki has graced the covers of more than 200 music, business and trade media outlets in Asia.
In July, 2010, Yoshiki launched the Yoshiki Foundation America, a California non-profit, 501(c) public benefit corporation that has already helped organizations including The Grammy Foundation, Make-a-Wish, and St. Vincent Meals on Wheels. With the devastating March 2011 earthquake in Japan, YSA is focusing all of its efforts on Japan relief, and has partnered with the Japan America Society of Southern California in those efforts.
Comic book legend Stan Lee (Spider-Man, The Hulk) recently announced that he is creating a Super Hero comic book based on Yoshiki. The gothic-styled music Super Hero will feature Yoshiki’s passion for music and his fascination with dragons, and will be a vigilante whose powers are triggered when certain musical notes are played with drumsticks by Yoshiki’s character. Expected in 2011.