Japanese Music Legend Ryuichi Sakamoto Dies at 71

On April 1st, 2023, the world lost a music legend, Ryuichi Sakamoto. The Japanese composer, pianist, and electronic musician passed away at the age of 70 after a long battle with cancer. Sakamoto was known for his innovative and eclectic approach to music, which blended classical, pop, and electronic elements to create a sound that was entirely his own. He was a pioneer of electronic music and a godfather of electronic pop, and his influence on the music world cannot be overstated.

Ryuichi Sakamoto of Yellow Magic Orchestra dies at 71
Source: NPR

Who was Ryuichi Sakamoto?

Ryuichi Sakamoto was born in Tokyo in 1952, and his love for music was evident from a young age. He began taking piano lessons at the age of three, and by the time he was in high school, he was already playing in bands and writing his music. After graduating from high school, he attended the Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music, where he studied composition and electronic music. Sakamoto first gained international fame in the late 1970s as a member of the electronic music group Yellow Magic Orchestra. The band’s futuristic sound, which blended synthesizers, drum machines, and traditional Japanese instruments, was unlike anything else at the time, and it quickly became a sensation in Japan and beyond. The band’s influence on electronic music cannot be overstated, and it paved the way for the electronic pop that would dominate the charts in the 1980s.

His Music Journey

After Yellow Magic Orchestra disbanded in 1983, Ryuichi Sakamoto embarked on a solo career that would see him become one of the most respected and innovative composers of his time. His music blended classical elements with electronic and pop influences, creating a sound that was both accessible and sophisticated. He won an Academy Award for Best Original Score for his work on the 1987 film “The Last Emperor,” and he went on to score dozens of other films and TV shows over the years. Sakamoto’s influence on electronic music can be heard in countless songs and artists. His use of synthesizers and drum machines, combined with his classical training, created a sound that was both futuristic and timeless. His work inspired countless musicians to experiment with electronic music, and his influence can be heard in genres ranging from pop to hip-hop to ambient music.

Also an Activist 

But Sakamoto’s impact on music went beyond just his innovative sound. He was also a trailblazer in terms of his activism and social consciousness. Ryuichi Sakamoto was an outspoken advocate for environmentalism and nuclear disarmament, and his music often reflected his political beliefs. In 2011, after the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan, he became a vocal critic of nuclear power and dedicated much of his time to raising awareness about the dangers of nuclear energy.

Rest in Peace, Ryuichi Sakamoto

Sakamoto’s legacy will live on in the countless musicians he inspired and the music he created. His innovative approach to music and his social consciousness makes him a true icon, and his influence on the music world will be felt for generations to come. As news of his passing spread, musicians and fans alike took to social media to pay tribute to the music legend. Brian Eno, a longtime collaborator, and friend of Sakamoto’s tweeted, “Ryuichi Sakamoto was a true genius, a master of sound and a pioneer of electronic music. He will be deeply missed.”

Ryuichi Sakamoto dies
Source: The Japan Times

In conclusion, Ryuichi Sakamoto was a true music legend and a pioneer of electronic music. His innovative approach to music and his social consciousness makes him a true icon, and his influence on the music world cannot be overstated. His passing is a loss not just for the music world but for the world as a whole, and he will be deeply missed. Rest in peace, Ryuichi Sakamoto, and thank you for the music.

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