B'z (ビーズ Bīzu) are a Japanese rock duo, consisting of guitarist, composer and producer Takahiro "Tak" Matsumoto (松本 孝弘 Matsumoto Takahiro) and vocalist and lyricist Koshi Inaba (稲葉 浩志 Inaba Kōshi), known for their energetic hard rock tracks and pop rock ballads. B'z is one of the best-selling music artists in the world and the best-selling in their native Japan, having released 49 consecutive No. 1 singles, 25 No. 1 albums, 3 No. 1 EPs on the Oricon music charts and sold more than 100 million records worldwide.
|Labels||Bertelsmann–BMG Japan (1988–1995)|
Being Inc.–Vermillion (1995–present)
|Associated acts||Tak Matsumoto Group|
In 2003 HMV Japan ranked them at number 30 on their list of the 100 most important Japanese pop acts. In 2007, B'z became the first music act from Asia to have their handprints and signatures put up in the Hollywood's RockWalk. In 2008 were awarded a Guinness World Record for "Best selling album act in Japan", which also notes them to be the best selling act in Japan overall. By AllMusic are considered as the "biggest rock act in Japan and the entirety of Asia".
Early works (1988–1990)Edit
In the late 1980s, Tak Matsumoto as a guitarist has been extremely busy with various recording sessions and live performances, including for Tetsuya Komuro's TM Network and Mari Hamada. On 21 May 1988, Matsumoto released his first solo album, Thousand Wave, with positive critical reception. However, wanting to start a band he searched for band members and particularly a singer instead. Eventually, through his management he listened to the demo tape of vocalist Koshi Inaba in 1988, who would later found B'z with him. At the first session they played The Beatles "Let It Be" and "Oh! Darling". At the time, Japan's music scene was experiencing a band boom. With all the digital sounds in mainstream music, the only sounds that they felt could not be expressed and replicated were the guitar and the human voice. As a result, they decided to keep it a two-man unit. On 21 September 1988, B'z made their debut with their first album, B'z, and single, "Dakara Sono Te o Hanashite (だからその手を離して)". Their music was very much a product of its times, with synthesizers and samplers sharing equal time with Matsumoto's guitar, producing an experimental sound, very different from their later well-known hard rock sound.
Instead of immediately performing live after a debut album, as many Japanese bands were doing, B'z chose to have a clear vision of how they wanted to perform and decided to wait until they had enough material to play live. The two concentrated on recording, raising the quality of their music. Their efforts resulted in a second album, Off the Lock, released on 21 May 1989. With this second album came their first series of live performances, known better to their fans as "Live-Gym". "Live-Gym No. 00" started in Nagoya, continuing into Osaka, and finished in Tokyo. Tickets were sold out on the day they became available. On 21 October, their first mini-album (EP), Bad Communication was released. The title track was a blend of rock and dance music, and is still a classic played during their "Live-Gyms". It charted for 163 weeks on the Oricon Charts. Their first nationwide tour, B'z Live-Gym No. 001, covered 16 shows around Japan.
On 21 February 1990, their third album Break Through was released. It charted at No. 3 on the Oricon Albums Chart. To promote it, they started a tour with 22 shows nationwide. Their single "Taiyō no Komachi Angel", was released on 13 June and peaked at No. 1 on the Oricon Singles Chart. Every single since that release has debuted at No. 1 on the Oricon charts. The following Wicked Beat, their second mini album, was then released on 21 June. It also charted at No. 3 on the charts. Like with the release of other initial releases, it became commercially successful (reaching million certifications) retroactively between 1990 and 1991. Their 4th album, Risky was released on 7 November, which was their first album to top the charts, and with it started a steady shift from a pop rock to 80's hard rock. Their "Risky" tour, totaling 49 performances, also started in November. Their first music video, Film Risky, was recorded in New York City and London within 4 weeks, and was released on 16 December. With a barrage of releases, 1990 came to be the busiest year for B'z.
Transitioning into hard rock (1991–1992)Edit
The third mini album, Mars was released on 29 May 1991. Little promotion was done for it and after releasing only two singles, B'z released their fifth album, In the Life, on 27 November. The release of the album marked B'z shying away from their advanced digital sounds and more towards rock. Their first live video, "Just Another Life" was out on 11 December. For promotion, B'z also embarked on their "In the Life '91–'92" tour, with 66 performances in total. The tour started in December and managed to flow into the next year. The total number of "Live-Gyms" they did during this year exceeded 100.
In the summer of 1992, the "Pleasure '92-Time" tour took place with 12 performances in 3 major cities. The arena-class tour had amazing features such as a huge lighting set, called the "Starfish", and seats that rotated 360 degrees. 28 October marked the release of their sixth album, Run, and proved to be even more hard rock oriented than the previous. On 9 December, they released a slightly different mini album Friends. Different from Run, its concept is somewhat similar to that of a movie soundtrack.
Switching to blues (1993–1994)Edit
In early 1993, the "Run" tour concluded after 49 performances in 21 locations. In March was released their twelfth and best-selling single "Ai no mama ni Wagamama ni Boku wa Kimi dake o Kizutsukenai", certified double-million by RIAJ in 2003. Then they held an open-air concert for the first time, called "Jap the Ripper". The show took place in Bentenjima of Hamamatsu-city, Shizuoka on 31 July and 1 August. The successful event gathered 50 thousand people per day, totaling 100,000 people in the end. Following this, B'z concentrated on recording once again, this time, producing a two-disc seventh album, The 7th Blues. The album title not only came from it being their seventh album, but also after the seventh chord, that is frequently used in Blues. Becoming much more "bluesier" and soulful, this album evidently shows their lean towards blues, the roots of rock music. It included hit singles "Don't Leave Me" and "Lady Navigation".
On 9 February 1994, the "B'z Live-Gym '94—The 9th Blues" tour started. The tour became their longest and biggest tour thus far, managing 87 performances in the year. During the tour, the album, The 7th Blues, was released on 2 March. The tour finished in Sapporo's Tsukisamu Green Dome on 24 December. This album was a kind of "fans trap" because they made it to "clean" their fandom and just keep the rock and blues-loving people with them.
Adopting pop and temporary hiatus (1995–1998)Edit
In the first half of 1995, B'z spent their time recording and after creating numerous demos, they held the "Pleasure '95 Buzz Stadium" tour with 12 shows in 7 cities. Their eighth album, Loose, was released on 22 November. Loose was concentrated on the original concept of a two-man band. While combining rock with pop, this album is well balanced with a variety of sounds. The album sold over 3 million copies, marking it as the best seller for B'z at the time. The B'z Live-Gym '96 "Spirit Loose" tour, started on 15 March 1996 and held 44 performances in 21 locations. The show opened featuring a short B'z action movie, shot in Los Angeles. A short while afterward, B'z released their 6th mini-album titled Friends II on 25 November. The album displayed more of an adult-oriented rock.
During a short hiatus, in 1997 Inaba's released debut solo album, Magma, writing all the music and lyrics. The album, which topped the Oricon charts, showcased another side of him, different from that of his usual image in B'z. In March, the dome tour "Pleasure '97 Fireball" consisted of 9 performances in 5 locations. Tickets for each dome, which have a capacity of about 30 to 50 thousand people each, were all sold out. The tour included stops at Tokyo (3 nights), Nagoya, Osaka, Fukuoka, and Maebashi, all being successful. On 19 November, their ninth studio album Survive showcased yet another new direction in sound and style. B'z's first promotional effort for the album included performances in concert halls in Akita, Hakodate, Kōchi, Shiga, and Nagasaki, before plunging into the main tour. "B'z Live-Gym '98 Survive" started on 24 January 1998. On 20 May, B'z released their first official compilation album, B'z The Best "Pleasure", which also marked their 10th year since debuting. Every song included in this album was a huge hit and was highly acclaimed as it was the first Japanese album to sell more than 5 million copies, which achieved by the end of the year. On 6 June, the "Survive" tour had successfully ended. In the mid-1998, B'z entered a period of both rest and recording. During the period, on 20 September, their second best-of album, B'z The Best "Treasure" was released, selling almost 4.5 million copies until the end of the year.
Returning to the music scene (1999–2000)Edit
B'z started off the year of 1999 by busily promoting their recent singles and their tenth studio album Brotherhood, which was released on 14 July. It is considered their heaviest rock album at that point. The album's track "Giri Giri Chop (Version 51)" was recorded by the support of Mr. Big drummer Pat Torpey and its bassist Billy Sheehan. In July, another dome-class tour began starting in Sapporo. The title of the tour, B'z Live-Gym '99 "Brotherhood" included 14 performances in 7 locations. They did away with extra stage acts and concentrated on their musical performance, playing songs from the new album and many hits from the past. On 28 August and 29, they played in the Yokohama International Stadium. B'z concert was the first to be held in this stadium and gathered a stunning 140,000 people in just two days. Although the second day at Yokohama experienced heavy rain, the tour ended successfully. Shortly afterward, B'z started recording again and continued to do so throughout the rest of the year without rest.
On 23 February 2000, they released the album B'z The "Mixture", which included re-mastered tracks of past songs, songs from past singles that were not the featured track, remixes, and a new song. In the middle of May, they started a rehearsal for the summer tour B'z Live-Gym Pleasure 2000 -Juice-, starting a hall class venue show in Toyama, 30 May. The tour totaled 18 shows in 10 cities, including a performance on the famous Nippon Budokan on 20 June as a start. The recording of their single "Juice" was supported by drummer Brian Tichy. When they released "Juice", on 12 July, the duo set a Japanese record of marking No.1 in the first week, making it their 25th No. 1 single in sequence. During the tour, Once Upon a Time in Yokohama ~B'z Live Gym'99 "Brotherhood"~ was released. The year of 2000 was finished with the release of the eleventh album Eleven on 6 December. B'z finished their work in 2000 with the appearance on the TV show Music Station Special and would start the rehearsal for the tour "B'z Live-Gym 2001 -Eleven-" which kicked off on 26 February, in the following year.
Induction into Hollywood's RockWalk (2001–2007)Edit
On 26 February 2001, "B'z Live-Gym 2001 -Eleven-" kicked off at Ehime Kenmin Bunka Kaikan. Most of the shows were exclusive to fan club members. In March was released popular thirty-first single "Ultra Soul". After the Okinawa shows on 27 and 28 June, B'z traveled abroad. They officially released their CDs in Taiwan and Hong Kong and after having Live-Gym that year, they made a promotion trip for the first time there. "B'z Live-Gym 2001 -Eleven-" had 46 shows in 19 locations and 600,000 attendees. After the Eleven tour, B'z prepared for their first Asian tour, which included "B'z Live-Gym in Taipei 2001" and "B'z Live-Gym in Hong Kong 2001".
While B'z started recording as soon as the year 2002 started, Tak finished his solo albums. which were released simultaneously: Dragon From The West which consists of hard rock tunes, and Hana, which includes more melodic and Asian-influenced tunes. B'z finished their recording in the middle of May, and started rehearsal in Tokyo for the Live-Gym tour that year, as well as performing with Aerosmith on the stage of FIFA World Cup Korea/Japan Official Concert International Day, at Tokyo Stadium on 27 June. On 3 July, Green was released, and there was a supporting tour. The tour began in Saitama Super Arena on 8 July and ended at Osaka Dome on 9 September, encompassing 700,000 attendees, 14 shows, and 11 cities. The live band was rounded out by bassist Billy Sheehan and Canadian drummer Shane Gaalaas. In September, after the last show at Osaka, B'z had their first US tour starting in San Diego at Canes on 22 September and The Palace in Los Angeles on 24 September. On 27 November, a live video A Beautiful Reel was released in addition to "B'z Live-Gym 2002 Green ~Go★Fight★Win~", which packaged everything that happened on the Green tour. It also contained a second disc with material from "Live-Gym 2002 Rock n' California Roll". On 11 December, their first ballad compilation album The Ballads ~Love & B'z~ was released, with a similar flow as Friends.
The year 2003 marked their 15th anniversary, and the two started recording from the beginning of the year, traveling to the United States in February for additional recording. Along with continuous releases, the tour "B'z Live-Gym The Final Pleasure "It's Showtime!!"" started in July. The tour "Pleasure" series started since '91 would end this year. The tour kicked off 3 July at Hakodate Shimin Kaikan and finished at Nagisa-en on 21 September, which was ironically the day of their debut, having a total of 23 shows altogether. As it has been 10 years since B'z had performed at Nagisa-en since their 1993 performance of "B'z Live-Gym Pleasure '93 "Jap the Ripper"", it gathered 100,000 audiences for two days. Even though the shows were hit by typhoon and it rained very hard, it managed to still attract thousands of audience.
After the Nagisa-en performance, B'z flew to the U.S. The tour "B'z Live-Gym 2003 Banzai in North America" concluded with 7 shows including Las Vegas, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Vancouver. Their thirteenth album, Big Machine, was released on 17 September. As they flew back to Japan, B'z started their third tour in 2003, "B'z Live-Gym 2003 Big Machine". It was a dome tour in 6 locations, from Saitama Super Arena to Tokyo Dome in December. Thee compilation cover album The Hit Parade with various vocalist was released on 26 November.
Kicking off 2004, B'z went back to the studio to begin recording again. On 25 February, a DVD, Typhoon No.15 ~B'z Live-Gym The Final Pleasure "It's Showtime!!" in Nagisaen~, was released. For the rest of the year, they worked mainly on their solo projects. Soon after finishing each solo tour, they began recording together again. On 6 April 2005, B'z released their fourteenth album The Circle. For the album's recording, the duo was particularly worried about its live sound. For promotional activities, B'z started the tour "B'z Live-Gym 2005 "Circle of Rock"" that ran from April to September, totaling 27 shows in 41 locations. On 1 August, their box set The Complete B'z was digitally released only for the Japanese iTunes Store. House of Strings label, which Tak established a year before, released the artist's second album, Theatre of Strings, on 19 October. On 30 November, B'z The Best "Pleasure II", the third compilation album, was released, reaching one million by the end of 2005. On 28 June 2006, their fifteenth original full album Monster was released. Most of the recording took place in Los Angeles. B'z kicked off the tour "B'z Live-Gym 2006 "Monster's Garage"" from Amami Bunka Center on 2 July, having 17 shows in all, including 5 big domes in 11 locations and 450,000 audience members altogether. By the end of 2007, more precisely on 5 December, B’z released their sixteenth album, Action. The drum parts of their two singles from Action, "Eien no Tsubasa" and "Super Love Song", were recorded by drummers Josh Freese and Jeremy Colson respectively.
On 19 November 2007, B'z was inducted into Hollywood's RockWalk as the first Asian inductee in Sunset Boulevard, California, United States. They were recommended by Steve Vai with whom they collaborated in 1999 (on The Ultra Zone), as well supported him during the 2007 tour in Japan.
20th anniversary (2008–2009)Edit
In February 2008, B'z released a DVD titled B'z Live in Nanba. The show was recorded in 2006 and was also broadcast online. The concert featured songs from The Circle and Monster eras, along with a number of older hits as well as several English versions. On April 16, 2008, the band released their forty-fifth single, "Burn -Fumetsu no Face-", which became their forty-first consecutive No. 1 single. The year also marked the twentieth anniversary of the band. To commemorate the occasion, the "B'z 20" campaign was launched that saw two further compilation albums; B'z The Best "Ultra Pleasure" was released on 18 June 2008 and featured the greatest of the band's hits on a two-disc collection, and in chronological order, with two all-new modern recordings of older tracks, while B'z The Best "Ultra Treasure" was released on 17 September 2008, which two-disc track listing was decided by fans who were invited to vote for three of many songs at the B'z 20th-anniversary website, which featured an exclusive song on a three-disc gift bundle, as well as a re-recording and a remix.
On January 25, 2008, B'z performed only the latest of its "Showcase" series, which are generally small-venue performances of older album songs and the more obscure B-side that are mostly unsuitable for the larger arena concerts. Following this, B'z immediately embarked on their eight-month "Action" tour that saw them perform all over Japan. Afterward, they segued into their 2008 Pleasure tour, titled "Glory Days". Throughout the month of September, B'z performed for hundreds of thousands of fans in nine performances across three cities. The special tour ended on September 21 at Nissan Stadium, with a concert on the 20th anniversary of their first release. This performance was later released on DVD February 25, 2009, as B'z Live-Gym Pleasure 2008 -Glory Days-.
Following their massive tour in 2008, B'z returned to the studio to record new material. Their first release of the year was a Double A-side single, "Ichibu to Zenbu/Dive", released on August 5, 2009 that features drummer Chad Smith. The non full-track ringtone downloads (Chaku Uta) of "Ichibu to Zenbu" began on July 13, 2009, and the full-track ringtone downloads (Chaku Uta Full) of the song also began on August 26, 2009. For its strong download sales in August and September on Recochoku, the song served the "Monthly Recochoku Award, Best Song Award Grand Prix" for Chaku Uta and Chaku Uta Full each for two consecutive months. On October 13, 2009, KDDI also announced that "Ichibu to Zenbu" was awarded the "Utatomo Award" of September 2009 for the sales on "Utatomo" via au's LISMO. The second release was the single "My Lonely Town", with the physical CD of the single was released on October 14, 2009. Both singles are featured in the band's next studio album, entitled Magic, released on November 18, 2009. On December 10, 2009, it was announced that their single "Ichibu to Zenbu/Dive" won the "Hot 100 of the Year" award at the Billboard Japan Music Awards.
30th anniversary (2010–present)Edit
After the "B'z Live-Gym 2010 "Ain't No Magic" Tour", they began their solo activities each and did not release any single as a duo in 2010. Matsumoto released the album Take Your Pick with Larry Carlton on June 2, 2010. Inaba's solo studio album Hadou was also released on August 18, 2010, debuting at number one on the Oricon album charts. Take Your Pick won the Grammy Award for Best Pop Instrumental Album at the 53rd Grammy Awards on February 13, 2011.
In 2011, they came back as B'z with the forty-eighth single "Sayonara Kizu Darake no Hibi yo", which is written and used as a commercial song for Pepsi NEX. They have released their eighteenth studio album C'mon on July 27, 2011, which featured forty-ninth single "Don't Wanna Lie". "Don't Wanna Lie" is the theme song used for Detective Conan: Quarter of Silence. In summer 2011, B'z continued their live-gym tour with additional stops in North America: Vancouver, San Francisco, Los Angeles. Their fourth North American tour has been confirmed for San Francisco, Seattle, Vancouver, Toronto, Silver Spring, New York City, and Los Angeles in 2012, almost selling out the Universal Amphitheatre. The B'z shared their first English language songs with American audiences on their North American tour. Matsumoto explained, "This will be our fourth U.S. tour. We love playing for American audiences, and are excited to share our first English-language release with our fans". In anticipation of their upcoming American tour, the band released a five-song mini-album, titled B'z, featuring five re-recorded English versions of various hits such as "Juice", "Ultra Soul" and "Splash", and "Into Free-Dangan-" released as a digital single. The songs were co-selected by their drummer Shane Gaalaas. The album is available internationally through the iTunes Store and was released on July 25, 2012. In the same year was released their fifth single "Go for It, Baby (Kioku no Sanmyaku)".
In 2013, the group was the third artist by total sales revenue in Japan with ¥5.379 billion. In 2015, was released the nineteenth studio album Epic Day, as well singles "Uchōten" and "Red". In August 2017, the band released B'z Complete Single Box Set, and although being a high-priced limited edition it managed to chart in the Top 10. B'z released their 53rd single "Seimei/Still Alive" in June, and it is their 49th single to top the Oricon charts. Their 20th studio album, Dinosaur, was released in November 2017, followed by a tour to celebrate their upcoming 30th anniversary in 2018. According to Oricon, it is their 28 album to top the music charts. To commemorate the 30th anniversary, in 2018 was held a large exhibition between April and June at Yūrakuchō Infos building in Tokyo's Chiyoda ward, its music documentary B'z 30th Year Exhibition "Scenes" 1988-2018 screened in theatres nationwide, 20 studio albums mastered for release as LPs, and was released commemorative book B'z The Chronicle. In July, was released home video B'z Live-Gym 2017-2018 "Live Dinosaur" which topped both DVD and Blue-ray charts, selling over 90 thousand copies in the first week. Their new track "Tsuwamono, Hashiru" was used for TV commercial of 2019 Rugby World Cup which will be held in Japan.
On April 10, 2019, the band announced their long-awaited follow-up to Dinosaur, New Love. The album is scheduled to be released on May 29, 2019, and will feature new backing band members who will make their debut in 2019's Whole Lotta New Love tour as well as a guest appearance by Aerosmith's Joe Perry. As with Epic Day, a vinyl LP version will be available.
The band's music is composed by guitarist Tak Matsumoto, while the lyrics are written by vocalist Koshi Inaba. The band experimented with its style, "going from dance-rock to hard rock to blues to J-pop and back" according to AllMusic. It has also been described as a "ultra-commercial blend of hard rock, blues, and synthesizer pop". Although changed the style a lot for the first 13 years, they didn't loose any support. In the review of their best-selling album B'z The Best "Ultra Pleasure", Adam Greenberg of AllMusic notes that they "had some criticism as being more of a pop band with a rock tinge than a full-fledged rock band", but throughout their career they show strong rock elements including "'80s-styled extended electric guitar solo" and "blues-based rock" with various Western rock influences combined with their distinctive style. Compared to other two big Japanese rock bands, Mr. Children and Glay, while the sound of the first can be described as "soft", the other two are "fast and rocking". On Magic (2009), for example, they have combined "happy-go-lucky moods and hard rock aesthetics", but instead to sound like Western glam metal it's more similar to Japanese visual kei sound, indicating their influence on that movement and bands like L'Arc-en-Ciel as well. Greenberg in the review of "Ichibu to Zenbu/Dive", argued that most of their work has a "somewhat disjointed structure", "creative vocal descents and cascades", and "riff-heavy guitars". Marty Friedman compared them to Aerosmith, but stated to prefer more B'z because of Inaba's type of voice and high vocal technique, and Matsumoto's personality while playing the guitar solo. Matsumoto's guitar skills have been praised to suits the "top guitar master in Asia", with "fretboard histrionics" and "great sense of riff".
Influence and legacyEdit
It is considered that Matsumoto's guitar style has been influenced by the hard rock sound of Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple, while Inaba who was interested to rock music since elementary school also listened to Queen, Loudness, Aerosmith and others.
In 2003, HMV Japan ranked the band at number 30 on their list of the 100 most important Japanese pop acts. In 2007, B'z became the first music act from Asia to have their handprints and signatures put up in the Hollywood's RockWalk. By AllMusic are considered as the "biggest rock act in Japan and the entirety of Asia", while the popular music historian Norman Abjorensen described them as one of the most notable J-pop music acts who achieved Asian and global fame.
Matsumoto through his B'z fame is also credited for "resurrection and reinvention of the Japanese guitar hero", alongside and in comparison to X Japan's guitarist Hideto Matsumoto for a model of guitarist more interested in technique, technology and equipment, popularising the electric guitar as a mass media product in Japan. He also has Gibson signature models.
In the Oricon's yearly poll of 20,000 people for "Favorite Artist Ranking" which has started since 2004 they were regularly placed among the most popular music artists, in recent years ranked as 4th (2015, 2016, 2017). In 2015 survey by Oricon about the favorite song to relief stress their song "Ultra Soul" was ranked as second.
Awards and achievementsEdit
In 2015 were reported certified sales of 35,809,000 single copies, for which held the first place until December 2015. In 2017 were reported certified sales of 46,576,000 album copies, for which still hold the first place, and with joint sales of more than 82 million certified records are ranked as the best selling music act in Japan. In 2008, for their 20th anniversary were awarded a Guinness World Record for "Best selling album act in Japan", which also notes them to be the best selling act in Japan overall.
Their albums have 25 Platinum and 31 Million physical certifications, singles have 9 Gold, 33 Platinum, and 20 Million physical certifications, while home videos have 11 Gold physical certifications by the Recording Industry Association of Japan. The compilation album B'z The Best "Pleasure" (1998) was the first Japanese album to sell more than 5 million copies, which has achieved by the end of 1998, however it was surpassed by Utada Hikaru's First Love in 1999.
Other sales records held by B'z in May 2018 include "the most number one singles (49), most consecutive number one singles (49), longest streak of number one singles (49), total weeks singles were at number one (66), longest consecutive period with a single at number one (20 Years), most singles in the top 10 concurrently (9), the most million-selling albums (19), most number-one albums (26), and the only artist in history to lead all six major categories tracked by Oricon" among others, including total CD shipment of over 100 million copies and other about home videos. During the week of 12 April 2003, they held eleven positions in the top twelve on the Oricon Singles Chart, except the second position.
In 1999, at World Music Awards won the award for "World's Best Selling Japanese Artist of the Year". At the WMA they received several nominations, including "World's Best Live Act" and "World's Best Group" in 2013.