Today is an extra special but sad day for those of you who had David Bowie impact, or influence your life, and the ones around you. Today (in the year 2017) Bowie would have turned 70, and I’m pretty sure you are all aware by now that his passing last year—just two days after his birthday—had a worldwide effect… maybe even universal!
When you realize how many of the pioneers of visual kei were influenced and inspired by David Bowie, you start to understand the impact Bowie may have had in shaping how visual kei, developed, and grew through the years. I’m not saying visual kei would not have existed without Bowie, but there are really strong suggestions that the “visual” may not have happened without him.
Bowie was one of the pioneers of Glam, who had a big influence on the glam and metal bands of the ’70s and ’80s—both in the western and eastern glam metal scene. One of the largest glam metal bands of that time in Japan being X Japan. It’s not hard to take a glimpse at X Japan’s iconic looks over the years, and be able to pick out the possible influences of Bowie on their style. Yoshiki of X Japan was fortunate enough to meet his hero before his death, and shared with his fans a photograph of himself and Bowie together. The photograph showed a young Yoshiki looking very obviously shy in the presence of his hero.
— Yoshiki (@YoshikiOfficial) January 11, 2016
Sugizo was another who paid tribute to Bowie with a recently released cover of “Life on Mars?”. This was the first single release of his three-month consecutive release plan for his newest album Oto (音). Sugizo released a video message discussing the release of the cover, and how Bowie influenced him, “He was my forever hero from my childhood… if he had not exist, what I am today, an artist Sugizo, would not exist”.
Bowie made many great songs and musical pieces, but there are a few songs that stand out to all people. Bowie’s greatest hits have been covered a multitude of times, however, here are a few covers recorded and performed by Japanese artists:
VAMPS – Life on Mars?
Not only is this an amazing cover, but you can listen to a high quality recording thanks to VAMPS officially releasing this on their Sex Blood Rock n’ Roll album. VAMPS give Life on Mars? a dark and gritty sound which guides you to ponder those politically undertone lyrics on a deeper level.
Atsushi Sakurai – Space Oddity
Performed by BUCK TICK’s vocalist, Atsushi Sakurai, at his solo concert Explosion Ai no Wakusei Live in 2004, his cover of Space Oddity was simply performed as the song it was meant to be. Many have compared Atsushi and Bowie, so it’s expected that Atsushi took this song and made it his own—especially when the guitar solo hit.
Yoshiki – Space Oddity
This is one of the most recent cover performances, and Yoshiki did it his way, which was nothing less than beautiful when he performed his piano cover of Space Oddity at SXSW 2016 in Texas, USA. This one can definitely be added to Yoshiki’s list of emotional piano pieces.
Sugizo – Life on Mars?
Another musical cover, but this time by Luna Sea’s Sugizo, who was last year reported having begun his three-month consecutive release plan with his beautiful cover of “Life on Mars?”. Sugizo performs violin and guitar, while the piano is provided by jazz pianist Takana Miyamoto.
Here are a few more covers that shouldn’t fail to be mentioned:
- hide – Ziggy Stardust (Performed with Javza session band October 17, 1991)
- Balzac – Ziggy Stardust (Released on their album Deep Blue: Chaos of Darkism)
- SCANDAL’s Tomomi & Domoto Brothers band – Let’s Dance (Performed live on MusicStation)
- Tomoyasu Hotei – Starman (Performed live on the GREATEST SUPER LIVE “Guitat x Symphony” 2012 with orchestra.)
And here is a little extra for those who would love to hear a Japanese cover of Starman. Performed by Japanese band, Ermus.
Just like many other big western names that have made appearances in Japanese commercials—as the likes of: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Nicolas Cage, Leonardo DiCaprio, Harrison Ford, Eddie Murphy, and Ben Stiller—Bowie also made an appearance in a Japanese sake commercial back in 1980. Take a look at the commercial below—and maybe all the other crazy Japanese commercials while you are at it!