Wednesday, November 21, 2007

In Memory of - Hide

Welcome to a new "In memory of" post. Today I'd like to refresh your memories of the legendary X Japan guitarist Hide.

Hideto Matsumoto was a popular Japanese guitarist. More commonly known by his stage name Hide, he got a big international reputation for his work as lead guitarist of the popular heavy metal band X Japan.

Back in school Hide used to be bullied by other kids because of his overweight. He already had a big interest in Heavy Metal back then. The band that introduced him to this sort of music was Kiss. That was the time his grandmother bought him his first guitar which got him the nickname Gibson, since that was the brand of the guitar.

Hide joined X Japan (then called X) around 1987. He became the band's lead guitarist and occasional songwriter, composing songs like "Celebration", "Joker" and the single "Scars". Shortly after the release of the album Art of Life, the members of X Japan took a break, to start solo projects. Around that time, the group also dropped most of its original visual kei aesthetics, the exception being Matsumoto, who would still perform in wildly colorful outfits and with his trademark pink hair

Besides his career with X Japan Hide was a very active and successful solo artist. Among the numerous colaborations he participated in were acts like Spread Breaver, Lemoned, Psyence or Tune up. His music was his life and made him a legend. In an interview he once said that he didn't like the idea of learning and working so he decided to become a musician. Despite of his good character he was a very heavy drinker. Sometimes he wasn't able to remember what he did the night before or he woke up in hospital.

Hide died on May 2, 1998. After a night out drinking, he was found hanged with a towel tied to a doorknob in his Tokyo apartment, his death shocking the Japanese public. Three fans died in copycat suicides, of the 50,000 people who attended his funeral, nearly 60 were hospitalized and about 200 received medical treatment in first aid tents. Later that month, the single "Pink Spider" was released, entering the Oricon charts at number one. The song would also receive that year's MTV Video Music Award in the category "Japan Viewers Choice". Sales were also strong for the follow up single "Ever Free", while those of a single released previous to his death "Rocket Dive" would also see a substantial increase. American Journalist Neil Strauss commented on the trend saying that: "In just a few weeks, pop culture in Japan had gone from mourning Hide's death to consuming it."

While authorities deemed Matsumoto's death a suicide, several of Hide's friends and colleagues stated that they believed in an accident, among them X Japan co-founder Yoshiki Hayashi and former X Japan bassist Taiji Sawada. This notion is supported by the fact that no suicide note was left and Sawada theorizes in his autobiography, that at the night of his death, Hide may have been practicing a technique to relieve upper back and neck pains which guitarists can suffer from continuous use of a shoulder strap. The technique involved was practiced by the X Japan members during their touring days and required the use of a towel and a door knob or handle. According to Sawada, Matsumoto may have fallen asleep in his intoxicated state, becoming caught and strangling himself.

As with many other late musicians, re-issues, compilations and previously unreleased portions of Matsumoto's work continue to be published. In tribute to him a Hide museum opened in Yokosuka in 2000 and was closed in 2005, leaving a bitter flavor for alot of fans.

Albums (solo)

  • 1994 - Hide Your Face
  • 1996 - Psyence
  • 1998 - Ja, Zoo
  • 1993 - Eyes Love You
  • 1993 - 50% & 50%
  • 1994 - Dice
  • 1994 - Tell Me
  • 1996 - Misery
  • 1996 - Beauty & Stupid
  • 1996 - Hi-Ho / Good Bye
  • 1998 - Rocket Dive
  • 1998 - Pink Spider
  • 1998 - Ever Free
  • 1998 - Hurry Go Round
  • 2000 - Tell Me
  • 2002 - In Motion

Hide with Spread Beaver - Pink Spider

X Japan - Endless rain, the last concert

Official Fanclub
Hide Museum

That much for todays memento mori. As always I hope you enjoyed reading. In case you found any wrong infos or errors in this document please let me know so I can update this blog in a correct form. Any comments or ciritcisms are more than welcome.

Wish you a great time with the other blogs.

Kindest regards

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