Japanese musician Yukihiro Takahashi, best known as the influential drummer and vocalist for electronic act Yellow Magic Orchestra, has died. He was 70.
Born in Tokyo in 1952, Takahashi got his start as a drummer for the Japanese rock band Sadistic Mika Band in the early 1970s. After disbanding, some of the members went on to form the Sadistics. In 1977, Takahashi recorded his first solo album, Saravah. In 1978, Takahashi teamed up with Ryuichi Sakamoto and Haruomi Hosono to form the Yellow Magic Orchestra.
Yellow Magic Orchestra became renowned for their use of synths, samplers, sequencers, and drum machines. They drew significant influence from Isao Tomita and Kraftwerk, Japanese traditional music, arcade games, funk, and disco pioneer Giorgio Moroder. In 1978, their track “Computer Game” reached the UK Top 20 and sold 400,000 copies in the US. Though YMO paused activity in 1984, they have reunited several times over the years, most recently at the World Happiness festival in August 2012.
Across the ’80s, Takahashi released a number of solo albums and collaborated with many musicians, including Bill Nelson, Iva Davies of Icehouse, Keiichi Suzuki of the Moonriders (together called The Beatniks). Takahashi also helped compose the soundtrack to the ’80s anime series Nadia: Secret Of The Blue Water. His most recent solo work is 2018’s Saravah, Saravah!, a remastered reboot of his debut, which featured appearances from composer Ryuichi Sakamoto, pop singer Haruomi Hosono, and more.
In 2020, Takahashi learned he had a brain tumor and underwent surgery to remove it. In 2021, he revealed additional health issues.
Numerous musicians, including Junior Boys and Sparks, paid tribute to Takahashi on social media, with Sparks writing: “Saddened to hear about the passing of Yukihiro Takahashi of Yellow Magic Orchestra and beyond. It was an honor to cross paths on occasion throughout the years.”