Sir Loreal Julie of Peacock Hill, ladies and gents.Kenji "Julie" Sawada
(born 1948) is a Japanese musician, actor and composer, best known to Americans for being in Mishima A Life In Four Chapters
. His claim to fame among Japanese is perhaps, according to many, such as SMAP
, with planting the seeds of the Visual Kei
movement. His manner of dress when he performed, his heavy use of makeup, and his tendency to not seperate his stage personality from his real one are all traits later adopted by most Visual Kei
groups. His band, the Tigers, were one of many attempts to cash in on the Beatles by Japanese record labels, his was the most successful, with composer Koichi Sugiyama (yes,that one
) giving much of their songs a very classical feel.. After the breakup of The Tigers, Sawada formed the Super Group
PYG, bringing together many of his former rivals as musicians and churning out three albums. He later began a very successful solo career and became apt to a Japanese David Bowie
, acting in many roles to this day.Probably not related to
of X and Loudness.
Tropes describing Kenji Sawada
- Alter Ego Acting: Somewhat of a type 3.
- Badass Beard: Sports one as of 2013.
- Bishōnen: Pretty much the one of the Ur Example of the androgynous lead singer in Japanese music.
- Breakup Breakout: After the Tigers broke up, Sawada launched a successful solo career, acted in many movies, picking up the moniker "Japan's David Bowie", and pretty much singlehandedly began what became the Visual Kei movement of music/fashion. Not bad huh?
- Camp Straight
- Cast Incest: Currently married to a fellow actress from the set of Tora-san: The Professional.
- Concept Album: The Tigers 1968 album "Human Renascence" was the first use of the trope in Japan.
- Cunning Linguist: Speaks Japanese, French, Italian and English fluently.
- Dude Looks Like a Lady: ESPECIALLY in the early 80s.
- Dye Hard: His hair has ranged from hot pink, to blonde, to silver.
- Genre Shift: Went thru many. His early solo work is best described as adult contemporary, while his late 70s, early 80s work is Hard Rock and Glam Rock.
- Germans Love David Hasselhoff: Both Sawada and The Tigers have a significant following in Europe, China, and to a much lesser extent North America.
- Ho Yay: Had a very subtext-laden photoshoot with Kazuya Yoshi of Yellow Monkey.
- I Am the Band: He largely carried his band The Tigers's success on his shoulders.
- Intercourse with You: STRIPPER, the title is self-explanatory, and the first live of it actually moved to watershed hours for NHK's 1981 New Years Eve show.
- Impossibly Cool Clothes: Sawada is a master of this. Look at his 2008 concert where her performs in an Indian chief outfit, for instance!
- Large Ham: He ALWAYS chews the scenery, just watch him in Samurai Reincarnation for a great example.
- Long Runner: First solo album was released in April 1969, his latest solo single was released spring 2013.
- Putting on the Reich: like Gackt and Malice Mizer, has been photographed in Third Reichesque outfits.
- Protest Song: "F.A.P.P" against nuclear power.
- Revolving Door Lineup: Most of Julies backing bands have been replaced within 5 years.
- Self-Titled Album: Several.
- Seinfeld Is Unfunny: To most people today, Kenji "Julie" Sawada's antics onstage seem mundane in the age of artists like Malice Mizer, Dir En Grey and the like, but at the time he was in his prime years(1975-1982), Sawada's onstage antics on songs like STRIPPER were considered darlingly sexual and flamboyant, and producer/bandmate Kunihiko Kase's invention of the term "Visual" to describe Sawada's onstage costuming and persona. This later was taken by Atsushi Sakurai and Yoshiki Hayashi and turned further into the Visual Kei movement.
- Singer Namedrop: "Julie My Love"
- Singer Songwriter
- Shout-Out: Jules "Julie" Deane in Neuromancer, an effete, androgynous smuggler in Japan who seems to be based on Kenji's persona.
- Atsushi Sakurai of Buck Tick cites Kenji Sawada as an influence upon the band's look.
- Something Completely Different: The Broken Earth, a Psychedelic Rock song on a Baroque Pop concept album which had little to do with the rest of the album's theme.
- Spiritual Successor: His modern equivalent could be considered Gackt, who like Sawada, found more sucess after the band he debuted in broke up, and has a gigantic acting resume.
- The Band Minus the Face: Sort of. After PYG split, most of the members including Tigers bassist Ittoku "Sally" Kishibe became Julie's backing band, the Takayuki Inoue Band until 1977, when he replaced them.
- Unbuilt Trope: Not only the costuming and makeup, but the very onstage act of Visual Kei vocalists can be traced to Sawada. Just watch any of his live performances and you'll see the same type of behavior later made famous internationally by vocalists such as Toshimitsu Deyama of X Japan, such as wildly expressive gesticulating and even outright showing sadness or other emotions onstage.
- Villain Protagonist: Tends to play these, and his natural charisma and good looks result in his characters becoming a Draco in Leather Pants more often than not.
- Vocal Evolution: Over time, his vocal register has deepened significantly, but not to the point where his older hits are unsingable.
Tropes describing The Tigers:
- Ascended Extra: Shiro Kishibe was originally musical advisor to Watanabe Productions, The Tigers's production company, and specifically told them to disband around the time Heavy Metal and Psychedelic Rock became big in the US, but ended up as the replacement for Katsumi "Toppo" Kahashi, ironically.
- Baroque Pop:A lot of their later stuff, ESPECIALLY 1968's Human Renascence can be seen as this, with most tracks especially the ones composed by Koichi Sugiyama, having elaborate orchestration almost to the point of being egregious. This had consequences for the band. The songs proved to be a nightmare to perform live coherently, and critics bashed the album for being far too pretentious.
- Band of Relatives: On bass and vocals, Itou Kishibe. Later, on lead guitar and vocals, Shiro Kishibe, a New-Age Retro Hippie with a knack for American culture, and Itou's brother, would replace Toppo.
- Basso Profundo: Ittoku "Sally" Kishibe
- Crowning Moment of Heartwarming/ Tear Jerker: In 2011 the band had a reunion at Kenji's solo concert. Guitarist Toppo returned, and midway thru the show, a wheelchair bound Shiro Kishibe was brought out to sing a song. Shiro, despite looking old and sickly from a brain aneurysm that he managed to recover from miraculously, managed to pull off an incredibly effective vocal performance.
- Cover Version: Have covered The Zombies "Time Of The Season" and several Rolling Stones Bee Gees and The Beatles standards, with Ittoku singing "Tell Me", and Julie singing "Nowhere Man".
- Replacement Flat Character: Although Kishibe Shiro possessed almost as much prowess vocally as Toppo, his guitar playing skills weren't nearly up to par, and most of the guitar parts he played on the two albums were rhythm picking, and actual melody playing was left up to Morimoto Taro.
- Genre-Killer: Despite popularising GS, they can also be blamed for killing it. 1968's Human Renascence proved to be a disaster for Watanabe Productions, with the orchestral compositions being so complex it made most of the album next to impossible to perform live. That and the critics bashed the album for being too pretentious.
- Grief Song: Nageki(Grief)
- Hidden Depths: Shiro Kishibe, despite being the least musically fluent of The Tigers, having been taught guitar by Taro rather than learning himself and playing tamborine and singing before actually being able to play guitar like he was brought in to do, is the most English proficient of the band, a very talented writer, and a seiyuu, voicing Mammoth Nishi in Ashita no Joe.
- Keep Circulating the Tapes: Good luck finding the Tigers pre-Kenji Sawada material from when they were an instrumental band.
- Lead Bassist: Sally is a type A & B, singing lead on quite a few songs as well as being admired for his rather strong bassklines by even John Paul Jonex of Led Zeppelin.
- Long Runner: First debuted in 1966, disbanded in 1971, reunited in 1981, disbanded again in 1983, had a mini=reunion in 2011, are reuniting again December of 2013.
- Metal Scream: Toppo pulled off a few of these doing the band's cover of "I Put A Spell On You"
- New Sound Album: Human Renascence was the most ambitious effort by the Tigers, shifting them into total Baroque Pop territory. Their next three albums led by new guitarist/vocalist Shiro Kishibe took the band in a more Psychedelic Rock direction, with a bit of dabbling in Baroque Pop still. Their reunion album in 1981 had a very Hard Rock feel too it similar to Sawada's solo material at the time.
- Stage Names: In addidtion to the Visual Kei Unbuilt Trope of costuming, the Tigers also used stage names most of the time(Which most Vis Kei bands also do), with Kenji Sawada going by Julie, and guitarist Katsumi Kahashi going by Toppo.
- Surprisingly Good English: Kenji Sawada and Toppo, both fluent in English, managed to sing the band's few English songs with very careful pronounciation.
- Although the crowning award of best English of the4 group goes to Shiro Kishibe, who lived in America for years before becoming Toppo's replacement, and you can see what an impact his studies had, as his English is relatively free of any accent on most songs he sings, especially "Lalena".
- Step Up to the Microphone: Shiro Kishibe, brother of Itou "Sally" Kishibe, eventually became the bands new lead guitarist after Toppo left the band.
- Take That: In a meta sense. "The Blue Bird" was written by lead guitarist Morimoto Taro as a counter to the claims by rival bands' fans that The Tigers were purely a manufactured band.
- Troubled Production: Human Renascence was originally meant for another band entirely, but they quickly said no to the project, and Watanabe Pro gave it to the Tigers. The album sold well, but reportedly according to various accounts, the album proved near impossible to do live. The fallout from everything caused Toppo to leave the band in annoyance.
- Vocal Tag Team: Usually rhythm guitarist Katsumi "Toppo" Kahashi or Kenji Sawada would be on lead, but occasionally bassist Ittou Kishibe would Step Up to the Mic.
- The Voiceless: Lead guitarist Taro Morimoto, who never sang lead on a studio album song.
- The Woobie: Kishibe Shiro, the Tigers second rhythm guitarist and tag vocalist and Osami "Sally" Kishibe's younger brother. His life story is a real tear jerker. His first wife divorced him after he went bankrupt, and when he was 52, his second wife of 7 years died at the age of 43 without warning, causing him to be in a catatonic state for many days. In 2011, he had a brain aneurysm, and like Taiji Sawada, it ended up changing his appearance, making him appear much more frail than he actually is, and he needed a wheelchair for a while Although the good thing is, like Taiji, his skill never faded, as his voice is still almost as powerful as it was in the 1980s and 1970s.