Baltimore, MD (June 17, 2010) – YOSHIKI and SUGIZO, of the legendary visual kei rock band X JAPAN, will make a special appearance and give a brief performance at Otakon 2010’s Masquerade – just one (1) week prior to the band’s appearance at Lollapalooza in Chicago. YOSHIKI previously appeared at Otakon in 2006, but this will be SUGIZO’s first visit to the convention.
Full details on the appearance will be posted to the convention website in coming weeks at www.otakon.com.
The heart of X Japan is Yoshiki – songwriter, drummer, and classically-trained pianist who also plays guitar, bass and trumpet. 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 one of Japan’s most successful classical releases. 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 commemorate the Emperor of Japan’s 10th anniversary on the throne. In 2005, he was named the Music Director for the 2005 World Expo, composed the event’s theme song, and conducted the orchestra at the opening ceremonies. Yoshiki also wrote the X Japan song “I.V.” for the 2007 international blockbuster film, “Saw IV,” which played over the film’s closing credits.
Originally the guitarist of another pioneering visual kei band, Luna Sea, began performing with X- JAPAN in 2008 for the X-JAPAN’s Tokyo Dome reunion concerts and was made a formal member of X- JAPAN last year during the Hong Kong stop of the band’s world tour.
Is the convention’s largest single event: a costume and skit contest featuring dozens of competitors, and drawing as many as 8,000 attendees. It will be held on Saturday, July 30 in the 1st Mariner Arena. Two prior Otakon guests have performed in the Arena — L’Arc~en~Ciel in 2004 and JAM Project in 2008 — but the Arena has a long history of drawing top acts such as Elvis Presley, the Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, Elton John, Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones, and U2.
Otakon 2010 will be held July 30 – August 1 at the Baltimore Convention Center in Baltimore, Maryland.
Calling X Japan the most successful rock band in Japan is not a statement made lightly. X Japan has sold more than 30-million albums, singles and videos, headlined and sold out Japan’s 55,000-seat Tokyo Dome 18 times – so far – and has started playing to tens of thousands of fans outside of Japan. Going back to the 1980s, the band’s look and sound sparked a global interest in Japanese entertainment, especially with the Japanese cultural rock phenomenon, “Visual-Kei,” a movement X Japan pioneered that went on to become a catalyst for today’s worldwide Anime craze.
X Japan was formed in 1982 (calling themselves X) by Yoshiki and Toshi while still high school students. Over the next 13 years, the band released five studio albums – Vanishing Vision (1988), Blue Blood (1989) Jealousy (1991), Art of Life (1993) and Dahlia (1996), as well as six live albums, 10 compilation albums, and 15 video albums. X Japan was one of the first Japanese bands to achieve mainstream success while on an independent label – Yoshiki’s own Extasy Records. The band was so popular, SEGA produced an X Japan video game. In the fall of 1997, the band’s lead singer, Toshi, decided to leave X Japan, which lead to the dissolution of the band. Four months later, Hide, X Japan’s original lead guitarist, was found dead in his Tokyo apartment. At his funeral, more than 50,000 fans came to mourn his passing, and in May, 2010, even more fans stood in line at a memorial service to pay their respects and mark the 12th anniversary of his tragic death. In early 2007, Yoshiki and Toshi started working together again, and later that year, X Japan officially reformed. During 2008-9, the band launched its reunion tour, being bigger than ever, and sold out everywhere it played. In January, 2010, X Japan filmed a music video on the rooftop of Hollywood’s Kodak Theatre, with a throng of some 8,000 U.S. fans taking part in the shoot on Hollywood Blvd.
The members of X Japan – Yoshiki, Toshi (vocals), Pata (guitarist), Heath (bass), and Sugizo (guitar) – have been spending time in Yoshiki’s Los Angeles recording studio working on what will be the band’s U.S. debut, and its first album sung in English. “We decided to record English lyrics for four or five of our most popular, previously released songs,” Yoshiki explained, “and then write an additional four or five brand new songs, also sung in English. We have worked very hard on this album, and are very excited to present our music to the American rock fans.”
Immediately following their August Lollapalooza set, X Japan will fly back to Tokyo where they will play their biggest concert ever – headlining two nights at the Nissan Stadium, performing to nearly 150,000 fans.
ABOUT OTAKON AND OTAKORP, INC.: Now entering its seventeenth year, Otakon is an annual celebration of Japanese and East Asian popular culture, and also one of the largest gatherings of fans in the United States. Otakon celebrates popular culture as a gateway to deeper understanding of Asian culture, and has grown along with the enthusiasm for anime, manga, video games, and music from the Far East. Since 1999, Otakon has been held in Baltimore, Maryland; currently, Otakon is one of Baltimore’s few large, city-wide events, drawing over 25,000 individual members for three days each year (for a paid attendance of over 70,000 “turnstile” attendees). Otakon is a membership-based convention sponsored by Otakorp, Inc., a Pennsylvania-based, 501(c)3 educational non-profit whose mission is to promote the appreciation of Asian culture, primarily through its media and entertainment. Otakorp, Inc. is directed by an all-volunteer, unpaid staff – we are run by fans, for fans.