Hideto Matsumoto (松本 秀人 Matsumoto Hideto, December 13, 1964 – May 2, 1998), better known by his stage name hide,[Note 1] was a Japanese musician, singer, songwriter and record producer. He is primarily known for his work as lead guitarist of the heavy metal band X Japan. He was also a successful solo artist and co-founder of the United States-based band Zilch.
hide performing with X Japan in 1997.
|Birth name||Hideto Matsumoto|
|Also known as||
December 13, 1964|
Yokosuka, Kanagawa, Japan
May 2, 1998 (aged 33)|
Minami-Azabu, Minato, Tokyo, Japan
He sold millions of records, both solo and as a member of X Japan. X Japan rose to prominence in the late 1980s and early 1990s, credited as founders of the Japanese visual kei movement. When they disbanded in 1997, hide focused on his solo career which started four years prior and went on to enjoy significant popularity. At the height of his fame, while recording his third studio album and about to launch an international career with the newly formed Zilch, he died in 1998 of what was ruled a suicide by hanging. hide was seen as an icon for Japanese youth rebelling against their country's conformist society and his death was labeled "the end of an era".
1964–1987: Early years and Saver TigerEdit
hide was born in St. Joseph's Hospital in Midorigaoka, Japan, on December 13, 1964 and went on to attend Yokosuka Tokiwa Junior High School. He was first exposed to rock music at the age of fifteen, through the album Alive! by Kiss. That same year his grandmother bought him his first electric guitar, a Gibson Les Paul Deluxe.
On March 11, 1980, hide graduated from Tokiwa Junior High School. He then entered Zushi Kaisei Senior High School in Zushi, Kanagawa, where he entered the school's brass band as a club activity. He quit the band after a short time because he was assigned the clarinet while he wanted to play the trumpet. After this, he concentrated on guitar and in 1981 formed the band Saber Tiger. A year after their founding, they started playing shows at live houses in Yokosuka, such as Rock City.
In April 1983 he started studying cosmetology and fashion at the Hollywood University of Beauty and Fashion in present-day Roppongi Hills, from which he graduated in 1984. Later that year he took a nationwide examination and successfully obtained a beautician license. In July 1985 Saber Tiger released their self-titled EP, which included two songs, "Double Cross" and "Gold Digger". In November, the band contributed the song "Vampire" to the Heavy Metal Force III sampler, which also included songs by X and Jewel. Years later, Jewel's guitarist Kiyoshi would join hide's solo band.
In 1986 the group changed its name to Saver Tiger to avoid confusion with a similarly named band from Sapporo (see Saber Tiger). Their first appearance with the new name was on the sampler Devil Must Be Driven out with Devil, with their songs "Dead Angle" and "Emergency Express". They continued to perform in live houses and night clubs such as Meguro Rokumeikan, Omiya Freaks and Meguro Live Station. Until January 28, 1987, when hide became tired of changing members and decided to end the band (vocalist Kyo and drummer Tetsu would both go on to D'erlanger). Around the same time hide was invited to join X. In 2001, Nippon Crown issued a three-volume release titled Origin of hide, with the band credited as "Yokosuka Saver Tiger". Volumes 1 and 2 were live CDs, with some rehearsal recordings, while volume 3 was a concert VHS.
1987–1997: X JapanEdit
hide joined X Japan (then called X) in February 1987, becoming the band's lead guitarist and occasional songwriter, going on to compose songs like "Celebration", "Joker" and the single "Scars". X released their first album Vanishing Vision, through drummer Yoshiki's own Extasy Records, on April 14, 1988 and toured extensively in support of the record. They would become one of the first Japanese acts to achieve mainstream success while on an independent label, and later widely credited as one of the pioneers of visual kei.
X 's major label debut album, Blue Blood, was released on April 21, 1989 and debuted at number six on the Oricon chart. Its success earned the band the "Grand Prix New Artist of the Year" award at the 4th annual Japan Gold Disc Awards in 1990. Their third album Jealousy was released on July 1, 1991 and debuted at number one, selling over 600,000 copies. It was later certified million by the RIAJ.
Shortly after the release of Art of Life, which also topped the Oricon, 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, except hide who would still perform in wildly colorful outfits and with his trademark red, later pink, hair. Dahlia, which would become the band's last album, was released on November 4, 1996 and once again, it reached the number one spot. In September 1997 it was announced that X Japan would disband, they performed their farewell show, aptly titled The Last Live, at the Tokyo Dome on December 31, 1997.
1993–1998: Solo careerEdit
In early 1993, hide recorded the song "Frozen Bug" with Inoran and J of Luna Sea, under the band name M*A*S*S, it was included on the sampler Dance 2 Noise 004. He also starred in an art film titled Seth et Holth, along with Tusk of Zi:Kill. In 1994, hide recorded and released his first solo album Hide Your Face, which reached number 9 on the Oricon chart. In addition to all vocals and songwriting, he played most of the guitars and bass on some of the tracks. The album's musical style differed significantly from the speed metal anthems and power ballads of X Japan, leaning more towards alternative rock. hide then went on the Hide Our Psychommunity Tour, for which a live band was hired that would later become his primary project, hide with Spread Beaver.
In 1996, hide oversaw the production of the first release on his own record label LEMONed, an album from the band Zeppet Store. Prior to starting his own label, hide would introduce bands he liked to Yoshiki, who then signed them to his own Extasy, as he had done with Zi:Kill, Luna Sea and Glay. His second solo album Psyence was released on September 2, it topped the Oricon and was followed by the Psyence a Go Go tour. He also formed a new band named Zilch in 1996, which apart from him and Spread Beaver programmer and percussionist I.N.A., was composed of American and British artists, such as Joey Castillo (Queens of the Stone Age), Paul Raven (Killing Joke) and Ray McVeigh (ex:The Professionals). After X Japan disbanded in 1997, hide formally titled his solo project hide with Spread Beaver, with his backing band considered full members. On August 26, 1997, he produced the Mix LEMONed Jelly event at four different Tokyo nightclubs on the same night. Several artists performed, including hide backed only with I.N.A. as DJ.
hide died at age 33 on the morning of May 2, 1998. After a night out drinking, he was found hanged by a towel tied to a doorknob in his apartment in the Minami-Azabu district of Tokyo. He had returned to Japan just five days earlier, after a three-month stay in Los Angeles. On May 1, hide and the members of Spread Beaver recorded for television shows and went out drinking, with his brother driving him home at roughly 6:30 am the following morning. When found unconscious at around 7:30 am, hide was taken to a hospital in Hiroo, where he was pronounced dead at 8:52 am.
Authorities officially deemed hide's death a suicide, and it was reported in the media as such. Within one week, three teenage fans had died in copycat suicides. At the wake on May 6, 10,000 people attended, a 19-year-old girl slit her wrists after laying flowers at the temple, and a car crash caused by sleep-deprived fans travelling from Osaka caused one death and seven serious injuries on a motorway. His remains were buried in Miura Reien in Miura, Kanagawa during a Buddhist memorial service. Approximately 50,000 people who attended his funeral at Tsukiji Hongan-ji on May 7, where 56 people were hospitalized and 197 people received medical treatment in first aid tents due to a mixture of emotional exhaustion and heat, with the funeral taking place on the warmest day of the year at that point, at 27 degrees Celsius.
Meanwhile, several of hide's friends and colleagues stated that they believed the auto-strangulation to have been an accident, among them X Japan co-founder Yoshiki and former X bassist Taiji. This notion is supported by the fact that no suicide note was left and Taiji theorizes in his autobiography, that on 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 doorknob or handle. According to Taiji, hide may have fallen asleep in his intoxicated state, becoming caught and strangling himself.
Zilch bassist Paul Raven said "I saw him a few days before he passed away, and I had no indication from him that anything was wrong other than that he was exhausted", but commented that hide was "under a lot of stress", due to the recording schedule for the Ja, Zoo album. He went on to question the ultimate degree of hide's involvement in the finished record, remarking that only three songs had been completed before he died. However, hide's brother and manager stated in his 2010 book that six songs were completed by the time of his death. This is supported by the fact that I.N.A is credited with additional arrangement on four of the album's ten tracks.
Later that month after his passing, the single "Pink Spider" was released, entering the Oricon chart at number one. The song was also named "Song of the Year" at the 13th Japan Gold Disc Awards and received the MTV Video Music Award in the category "Japan Viewers Choice". Sales were also strong for the follow-up single "Ever Free" which took its number one spot, while those of the single released prior 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."
Zilch's debut album 3.2.1. was released in July and reached number 2 on the Oricon chart, the group would continue to perform and record for several years. While they never achieved mainstream success in the United States one of their songs was included on the soundtrack for Heavy Metal 2000. Ja, Zoo was released in November of that year with the artist listed as 'hide with Spread Beaver', formally crediting his backing band, also reached the number 2 position and sold over a million copies by the end of the following year. Despite hide's death, Spread Beaver went through with the 1998 Tribal Ja, Zoo Tour from October through November, performing live with the addition of recordings, drawing an audience of 50,000 people. Footage from the tour was later released on DVD in 2005.
On May 1, 1999, a tribute album was released, titled Tribute Spirits. It features covers of hide's songs by several bands such as Buck-Tick, Luna Sea and Oblivion Dust, and solo artists including Tomoyasu Hotei and Cornelius. The album was released to coincide with the first anniversary of hide's death.
A hide museum was opened in his hometown of Yokosuka on July 20, 2000. It has been reported that Japan's Prime Minister at the time, Junichiro Koizumi, was influential in getting it built as he is a big fan of X Japan. The museum remained open, past its original three-year plan, for five years, before closing its doors on September 25, 2005 with an estimated 400,000 people visiting.
Prior to his death, hide and Yoshiki talked about restarting X Japan with a new vocalist in the year 2000. The surviving members of X Japan eventually reunited in 2007 and recorded a new song, "I.V.". It contains a previously unused guitar track by hide. Their first concert was held at the Tokyo Dome on March 28, 2008, during the performance of "Art of Life" a hologram of hide (taken from footage of an "Art of Life" performance at the Tokyo Dome in 1993) played alongside the band. X Japan still considers hide a member, and have introduced him at every concert they have performed since reuniting.
As far back as July 8, 2007, Yoshiki announced to be in talks with several musicians regarding a hide tribute concert set for 2008, in order to commemorate the tenth anniversary of his former bandmate's death. The hide memorial summit was held on May 3 and 4 2008 at Ajinomoto Stadium, with X Japan, Dir en grey, D'espairsRay, Versailles and many others performing, Luna Sea and Phantasmagoria even reunited for one day to perform. hide with Spread Beaver also performed, using studio and live recordings for hide's vocals. Organizers planned for an estimated 100,000 fans to attend the two shows. Prior to the summit, there had been tribute shows held every year since 2000, where bands performed on hide's birthday and this continues to this day.
As with many other deceased musicians, re-issues, remixes, compilations and previously unreleased portions of hide's work continue to be published. One of the most recent being "The Devolution Project", a release of his original eleven singles on picture disc vinyl, throughout 2010. On the 12th anniversary of his death, also in 2010, a memorial service was held at Tsukiji Hongan-ji with an estimated 35,000 people attending.
In August 2010, hide's management company Headwax Organization, which includes his brother Hiroshi, filed a lawsuit against Yoshiki's management Japan Music Agency, for using images of the former X Japan guitarist without a formal agreement in place. The claim states that in 2000 the two companies signed an agreement allowing Yoshiki and X Japan to use visual images of hide during concerts. However, images were used at X Japan's August 14 and 15 shows at Nissan Stadium, when apparently the contract had expired.
On March 8, 2011, a musical based on and featuring hide's music debuted, named Pink Spider after his song of the same name. hide had previously expressed his desire to make a"rock opera", and said that the story of Pink Spider is not finished in the single, it remains open, and the musical aims to follow this thought thread. The show stars both Nao Minamisawa and Hitomi Takahashi as Meru, a girl who likes rock music, struggling between the real world and a fictional one called Psychocommunity. Other cast members included Taka (defspiral) and J, with the backing band being the rest of defspiral. The production ran from March 8 to the 27 at the Tokyo Globe Theater and was then brought to Fukuoka, Kobe, Nagoya, Niigata, Sendai, and Sapporo in April. The musical production was overseen by I.N.A. A compilation album of the songs used in the musical (the original versions by hide) was released on March 2 and is titled "Musical Number" -Rock Musical Pink Spider-.
At the end of 2012, a special project titled hide Rocket Dive 2013~2014 ~20th Solo Works & 50th of Birth Anniversary was announced. It includes films shown in several locations on May 2, including some overseas, the re-opening of the hide museum and plans to hold another hide memorial summit festival. Two tribute albums, following the first in 1999, were released on July 3, 2013 and contain twenty-five tracks covered by newer visual kei acts such as heidi., Sadie, Matenrou Opera and Screw. Two more tribute albums were released on August 28, the first being covers of hide's songs in a classical music theme, and the latter his song's remixed by Spread Beaver member INA. Two additional tribute albums were released on December 18 as the final installments, one composed of covers by female recording artists such as Koda Kumi and Kanon Wakeshima, and the other by rock acts including D'erlanger and Kinniku Shōjo Tai. The hide Museum 2013 was in Odaiba from June 27 to July 28, when it moved to Universal Studios Japan in Osaka for August 7 to September 8. The exhibition include life size wax dolls of hide. The new live concert film hide Alive the Movie -hide Indian Summer Special Limited Edition- was shown in theaters throughout Japan. Special limited tickets to see the movie came with a thirteen-track live CD of songs from the depicted concert, which was recorded on September 8, 1996 at Chiba Marine Stadium.
In March 2013, Headwax Organization announced that hide's grave site at Miura Reien was vandalized when unknown suspect(s) scratched the gravestone with a sharp object. They stated that if additional acts occur, the grave would be temporarily closed to the public. hide "performed" with Super Band, a one-off band whose lineup altered per song, at Sodegaura Kaihin Koen on September 14, 2013 as part of Kishidan Banpaku 2013 hosted by Kishidan. Its members included J on bass, Hisashi Imai and Hisashi on guitar, Ken Morioka on keyboards, and Tetsu (D'erlanger) on drums. A previously unfinished song by hide called "Co Gal" (子 ギャル Ko Gyaru) has been completed by Yamaha and INA utilizing vocaloid technology to mimic the deceased musician's voice. The song was originally written and demoed for Ja, Zoo in 1998, took two years to finish and was included on an album by Universal Music released on December 10, 2014.
Junk Story, a theatrical documentary on hide that includes interviews with friends, staff and fellow musicians who knew him, entered theaters across Japan on May 23, 2015. hide with Spread Beaver performed on October 15, 2016 at Makuhari Messe alongside X Japan and Glay as part of the second day of the Visual Japan Summit. A special hide 20th Memorial Super Live Spirits was held at Tokyo Otaiba Yagai Tokusetsu Stage J Chikuon on April 28 and 29, 2018. In addition to hide with Spread Beaver on both nights, other acts that performed over the two days included Buck-Tick, Oblivion Dust, Mucc and Tomoyasu Hotei. A multimedia box set titled hide 1998 ~Last Words~ and containing five CDs, a DVD and two books was released on May 2. All conducted within the last few months of his life, the CDs contain radio interviews hide gave on Nippon Broadcasting System and Bay FM 78, the DVD contains footage shot in Los Angeles while recording Ja, Zoo, and the books republish interviews he gave to magazines such as Rockin'On Japan and Fool's Mate. On May 26, a documentary film titled Hurry Go Round was released in theaters. Another tribute album titled Tribute Impulse was released on June 6 and features acts such as Dragon Ash, Takanori Nishikawa and Miyavi.
hide has a younger brother named Hiroshi, who was his chauffeur and manager until his last days. He took some of hide's ashes with him to throw in the Santa Monica Bay, along with a bottle of wine. Hiroshi has a son whom, during the Hide Our Psychommunity Tour, hide would bring onstage and sing to. Hiroshi is the president of hide's management company Headwax Organization, and also appears on Ja, Zoo reading an excerpt on "Pink Cloud Assembly".
During an interview for the television show Rocket Punch!, recorded on May 1, 1998 (one day before his death), hide said he had a girlfriend. Reports say that he was with a girl at the time of his death, who may or may not have been this girlfriend.
hide was a fan of Bow Wow guitarists Kyoji Yamamoto and Mitsuhiro Saito, and selected to use the Mockingbird style guitar, which Saito used. hide was rarely seen performing without a Fernandes guitar. He has many signature models with the company and owned a large repertoire of guitars by other manufacturers. His numerous signature models are still available for purchase today. One of his guitars, a 1959 Gibson Les Paul Standard, was once owned by Mick Mars of Mötley Crüe.
Songwriting and influenceEdit
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hide stated several times that he was a big fan of Kiss, particularly of their guitarist Ace Frehley. He preferred guitarists who make playing look "effortless" and who have "the skill, the looks and the attitude", naming Frehley, Jimmy Page and Joe Perry. He also cited Iron Maiden's self-titled debut album for teaching him how to arrange twin guitar parts.
In X Japan, hide is the second most credited songwriter and the only member other than Yoshiki to pen one of their singles. He appears to have been the most experimental as well, with the song "Xclamation" from 1989's Blue Blood, co-composed with Taiji, including traditional Indian percussion, and the aforementioned single, "Scars", being progressive metal. According to Alexey Eremenko of AllMusic, "Scars" and "Drain" from 1996's Dahlia were a glimpse into hide's future experiments in industrial rock. The Japan Times's Philip Brasor commented that when hide died, "Japanese metal lost its greatest practicing innovator."
At the outset of his solo career, hide experimented with instrumentations very different from what he usually had access to in X Japan. The Hide Your Face opening track "Psychommunity", for example, has four guitar tracks and employs a full string section. As another example, "Blue Sky Complex" features guitars in drop C tuning, a trumpet section, and an organ. His music is also of genres uncharacteristic of X, with the bulk of his catalog being considered alternative rock or hard rock. The title track of his second album Psyence is a big band/jazz composition with full brass, however, most songs on the record are clearly industrial rock with varying uses of guitar effects. Of note is that most bass guitar tracks on the album were played by hide himself. Instrumentation and songwriting are less experimental on Ja, Zoo, with most songs featuring a fairly conventional two guitars, bass, drums, and keyboards. Traditional piano and violins, and a Hammond B-3 organ do, however, make an appearance.
His lyrics were often dark, with one TV host saying "A lot of what hide did was grotesque. He's talked about suicide in his records for five years. But the fans who followed him always knew there was a hide behind that who was a very solid character. He was very outspoken about freedom and doing what you want". His compositions "often set the tone of alienation and frustration for which X Japan was revered." Radio and TV host Bryan Burton-Lewis explained "In Japan, the image that we have of the X audience is rural kids going through a rebellion phase", "they all talk about how [hide] gave them something to live for." Japanese DJ Maki Yanai believes fans saw in him the rebel society would not allow them to be.
hide is regarded as very influential to not only contemporary Japanese musicians, but also to his generation. X Japan is considered one of the founders of visual kei, a movement among Japanese musicians comparable to Western glam, and subsequently are influences to many newer bands. But when they disbanded, hide was the only member to carry on with the look and had the most successful solo career. As such acts that cite him specifically as an influence include D'espairsRay, Miya of Mucc, Nightmare's Hitsugi, Syu of Galneryus, Hizaki and Teru of Versailles, members from heidi., Naoto of Deathgaze, DuelJewel's Shun, Kouichi of Laputa, Jui from Vidoll, Reo of lynch., Dir en grey vocalist Kyo and guitarist Kaoru, each member of DaizyStripper, Kohshi from Flow, members of MarBell, Head Phones President frontwoman Anza, DJ Ozma, Ami Suzuki, Silver Ash leader Ling, Chiemi Ishimoto from Mass of the Fermenting Dregs, and Minami Momochi. Ryuichi stated that hide was a big influence on Luna Sea.
hide has been compared to Kurt Cobain and Jimi Hendrix with regards to his impact on Japanese youth, having been "elevated to a 'guitar god' status". According to Josephine Yun, hide's "stage persona was insolent, in your face, taunting and belligerent, and it thrilled Japanese youth while horrifying older generations. Many Japanese felt stifled by convention and identified with his naughty rebelliousness; he became a cult figure." Neil Strauss claims hide "despised the music business and wanted to change it" and that he said he felt "trapped in the image of a pop star." According to Strauss, he "represented a generation of fans who felt alienated, and his death represented the end of a genre." Billboard's Steve McClure concurred; his "death means the end of an era", adding "X were the first generation of visual kei bands[...] For the next generation of bands, it's like: That's it. The torch has been passed to us."
hide's backing band:
- Kazuhiko "I.N.A" Inada (稲田和彦) – percussion, programming, electronic drums, backing vocals 1993–1998, 2008, 2016, 2018 (Zilch, Dope HEADz, Sonic Storage)
- Toshiya "Ran" Matsukawa (松川敏也) – guitar, backing vocals 1994–1996 (Blizard, X-Ray, Twinzer)
- Hiroshi "Chirolyn" Watanabe (渡邊紘士) – bass, acoustic guitar backing and lead vocals 1994–1998, 2008, 2016, 2018 (Debonair, Madbeavers, Chirolyn & The Angels)
- Satoshi "Joe" Miyawaki (宮脇知史) – drums 1994–1998, 2008, 2016, 2018 (44Magnum, Ziggy, Madbeavers, Rider Chips)
- Daijiro "D.I.E." Nozawa (野澤大二郎) – keyboards, piano, guitar, backing and lead vocals 1994–1998, 2008, 2016, 2018 (Loopus, Ra:IN, Minimum Rockets)
- Kiyoshi Honma (本間清司) – guitar, backing vocals 1996–1998, 2008, 2016, 2018 (Jewel, Virus, Media Youth, R, machine, Madbeavers, Lucy)
- Kazuhito "K.A.Z" Iwaike (岩池一仁) – guitar, backing vocals 1998, 2008, 2016, 2018 (Oblivion Dust, Spin Aqua, Sonic Storage, Vamps)
X Japan guitarist Pata made numerous live appearances with the band and also appears on a couple studio recordings. Jennifer Finch and Demetra "Dee" Plakas, of American all-girl grunge band L7, supported hide on a couple of TV performances in 1993 before Spread Beaver was formed, they also appear in the original promotional video for "Doubt".
- Studio albums
- "Eyes Love You" (August 5, 1993)
- "50% & 50%" (August 5, 1993)
- "Dice" (January 21, 1994)
- "Tell Me" (March 24, 1994)
- "Misery" (June 24, 1996)
- "Beauty & Stupid" (August 12, 1996)
- "Hi-Ho"/"Good Bye" (December 18, 1996)
- "Rocket Dive" (January 28, 1998)
- "Pink Spider" (May 13, 1998)
- "Ever Free" (May 27, 1998)
- "Hurry Go Round" (October 21, 1998)
- "Tell Me" (January 19, 2000, re-recording)
- "In Motion" (July 10, 2002)
- His stage name is written in all capital letters while in regard to his work with X Japan, but in all lowercase letters when talking of his solo career and work with Zilch.
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