Yukihiro Takahashi, a prominent musician, percussionist, singer, and fashion designer died on January 11, 2023, at the age of 70. The Yellow Magic Orchestra co-founder was diagnosed with a brain tumor in 2020 and made many hospital visits throughout his recuperation after surgery.
Takahashi has been resting at his house in Karzuizawa, Nagano Prefecture, according to Takahashi’s management, since November 2022. However, he had pneumonia in early January, worsening his health, according to the Japanese daily Sponichi. Takahashi died as a consequence of aspiration pneumonia induced by his neurological disorder.
Tributes are pouring in for Yukihiro Takahashi, who died at the age of 70.
Yukihiro Takahashi was born in 1952 in Tokyo. He began his career as a musician while still in high school. He was motivated by his elder brother, Nobuyuki, and began drumming with college musicians while still in junior high. Takahashi started working professionally as a studio musician at the age of 16, and in the 1970s, after playing for the Sadistic Mika Band, he gained significant notoriety in Japan. Yukihiro Takahashi’s 1977 solo album, Saravah!, was produced by Ryuichi Sakamoto after the trio dissolved.
Haruomi Hosono engaged Yukihiro Takahashi and Sakamoto in 1978 to record his album, Paraiso, which was billed to Hosono and the Yellow Magic Band. That same year, the three musicians established the Yellow Magic Orchestra. Given Takahashi’s renown and breadth of work, Twitter was flooded with condolences as soon as word of his death broke.
RIP Yukihiro Takahashi. pic.twitter.com/lwEBlikAnE
— Synth History (@synth_history) January 14, 2023
RIP Yukihiro Takahashi. He sadly passed late last night.
YMO really were lightyears ahead. Can you believe this is 1979?!? 🤯 pic.twitter.com/M43s2xetnO
— Louis La Roche 🌴 (@iamlouislaroche) January 15, 2023
Takahashi contributed to 23 solo albums.
Yellow Magic Orchestra became well-known for their album Yellow Magic Orchestra, which is a well-known example of the synthpop genre, which blends computer technology, synthesizers, and video game noises. The fact that the album charted on both the Billboard 200 and the Billboard R&B Albums shows its popularity.
Yukihiro Takahashi told Dublab in 2020:
“I never expected that music from the 1970s in Japan and city pop, which I have no relationship to, would become popular in the United States. I also find it peculiar that my music, as well as that of [others like] Akiko Yano and Haruomi Hosono, is all classified as city pop.”
He continued, noting:
“In the 1970s, Japanese artists were inspired by western fusion and pop. Japanese artists are typically quite technical, and even when they attempt to emulate Western music, the voices always sound distinctly Japanese. People in the West who are listening to such recordings presumably find them to have a kitsch charm.”
Yukihiro Takahashi made seven albums with Yellow Music Orchestra and 23 solo albums. Life Anew, his most recent album, was released in 2013. Takahashi’s previous projects include The Beatniks with Keiichi Suzuki, Sketch Show with Hosono, and Pupa with Tomoyo Harada and Hiroshi Takano, among others.