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Monday, May 3, 2010

Yuzo Kayama

Yūzō Kayama (加山 雄三 Kayama Yūzō?) is a Japanese popular musician and film star, born on April 11, 1937. His father, Ken Uehara, was one of the most popular film stars in Japan during the 1930s. Yuzo Kayama became one of Japan's biggest stars of the 1960s in the "Wakadaishô" or "Young Guy" film series.

He showed his ability for drama when Akira Kurosawa cast him for his 1965 film, Red Beard (赤ひげ Akahige?), starring Toshiro Mifune. Kayama reported that he found the two years spent making this film the most difficult, but proudest work of his life.

As a guitarist, he took inspiration from the American surf group The Ventures, and performed a distinctly Japanese form of psychedelic surf music in the 1960s with his Mosrite guitar. This triggered a big fashion statement in Japan, mainly in Osaka where younger men would walk around with surfboards, despite the lack of any nearby beaches. One of Kayama's best-known instrumentals is "Black Sand Beach". As a singer, he is best known for the Japanese ballad, "Kimi To Itsumademo". Several renditions of this song, as covered by various artists over more than 40 years since the release of the original, can be found on the internet.

Yuzo Kayama first came to fame in 1961 as the dashingly handsome young star of the "Wakadaisho" ("Young General") series of teen films. Heavily influenced by the Ventures he formed a backing group, the Launchers and started recording for Toshiba Records.

In Yuzo Kayama's second "Wakadaisho" film, the 1965 feature, "Eleki No Wakadaisho" ("The Young General's Electric Guitar"), Kayama and Takeshi Terauchi perform together backed by the Launchers and they really blast the place to pieces!

Two of Yuzo Kayama's best known instrumentals, "Black Sand Beach" and "Yozora No Hoshi," were even covered by the Ventures, who were so impressed with Kayama and the Launchers that they presented him with one of their own signature-model Mosrite guitars!

Black Sand Beach

Friday, March 26, 2010