Taiji Sawada (known by his given name/stage name Taiji) was a Japanese rock musician who played bass guitar and guitar, as well as being a prolific songwriter. Having been in a number of famous Japanese rock and metal bands, he was best known for his work with X Japan
and with Loudness
. While in X Japan
, he co-wrote several songs, developed Toshi's "french fries" mohawk hair style, and heavily contributed otherwise toward the band's musical skill and lyrical and stylistic focus.
He left X Japan
in 1992 due to musical differences and a fight with Yoshiki
, and proceeded to play with Loudness
, leave Loudness to form his own off-and-on band D.T.R., and experienced a major Creator Breakdown
due to a variety of issues he'd struggled with throughout his life. He slowly returned from his Creator Breakdown
to play with the soon-to-be-disbanded D.T.R., Otokaze, Kings, and with The Killing Red Addiction
and TAIJI WITH HEAVEN'S.
Taiji was (and is) considered in some circles to be among the world's top rock bass players. Especially skilled at slapping and tapping, he was credited with teaching the late X Japan
and solo guitarist hide
his own guitar tapping technique back when they played together.
In 2009, he dissolved D.T.R., firing all but one of his bandmates claiming a copyright issue, and claiming that he was going to reform D.T.R. as Death To Rive. He played with The Killing Red Addiction (members Dynamite Tommy
[v], Kenzi [d], Taiji [b], Tatsu [g]), played with his solo act "TAIJI WITH HEAVEN'S," which became Taiji Sawada Project, then Taiji and Shu Project (TSP) (members Taiji [b], Shu [g], Takanari [d] who was replaced with Hina from Crazy Danger Mile on drums - who is the current drummer) and as a session musician with other bands including a return to Loudness
for the Munetaka Higuchi memorial shows in 2009 and 2010.
In July 2010, Taiji rejoined X Japan
as a bassist, playing on stage at the Yokohama Nissan Stadium reunion live, though he did not join X Japan
for the North American tour. He had also been a model and jewelry designer for Arizona Freedom, a Japanese rock couture house, and also played with Loudness at the 2009 and 2010 memorial concerts for Munetaka Higuchi. He had planned for a return to the rock scene with Taiji and Shu Project...
In 2011, he got into a fight with his manager on a flight and was arrested for causing a disturbance on a flight. He was alleged to have committed suicide by hanging
in custody July 17, 2011, but this cause of death is highly
disputed due to witness testimony claiming that he had no neck wounds or bruises. There is currently pressure to reopen a homicide investigation into his death and the suspicious circumstances (including his manager having been embezzling money from him and allegedly trying to scam his friends for money as he was dying, and his "spiritual advisor" who was his manager's friend pressing for no autopsy and a hurried cremation of his body against his own family's wishes) surrounding it.
He is the second member of the original X Japan
and the third formation of Loudness
each to die.Provides Examples Of
- Angst: Of the Mangst variety. He never resorted to open whining about his problems and would only reluctantly seek help - which actually may have made his problems worse, as they were not so well known.
- Artistic Stimulation: Taiji was a heavy user of alcohol, weed, and stimulants. This reflected a lot in his music...
- Audience Participation Song: Pretty much any song, he tended to interact with the audience a fair amount.
- Badass Biker: He liked biker fashion and used to ride motorcycles unless he was too unhealthy to do so - and definitely met the "badass" criteria as well. A bad wreck left him with severe injuries at one point.
- Bad Samaritan: Shinsho/Shinso, the religious guru he followed at the end of his life. He promised him recovery and, from Taiji's blog posts on him, gave him a lot of hope and strength. Then he encouraged him to stay in Saipan even as Kitami Terumi drained his bank account and ran up debts, and after Taiji's death, tried to pay off people to say he'd committed suicide and was unstable, and somehow managed to get his body cremated with no autopsy against the will of his family and fiancee.
- Bar Brawl: A common reason for Persona Non Grata.
- Bishōnen: He was in his younger days. See the Weekend PV for proof. Was apparently trying for biseinen again at points.
- Black Widow: KITAMI TERUMI. She bankrupted him again, indebted him to her, and then left him to die in Saipan... and that is the most charitable view of her actions. Then she sued the journalist who uncovered her and her friends' actions.
- Cluster F-Bomb: Not very common in lyrics, necessarily, but common elsewhere.
- Cool Bike: Taiji loved motorcycles and biker fashion.
- The Coroner Doth Protest Too Much: See Driven to Suicide and Never Suicide + the edits and entries to this page. The official verdict is suicide by hanging - which is also absolutely impossible in light of witness statements of the state of his body before its cremation.
- Creator Breakdown: Taiji went from being one of the most successful and acclaimed rock musicians in Japan to, at one point, being addicted, divorced, homeless, and severely depressed. He got into fights while living on the streets, suffering from a broken jaw and other facial injuries that gave him a speech impediment and permanently changed his appearance. Then, hide, who had been one of his closest friends, died in 1998, adding grief and Survivor Guilt to his depression.
- Double Entendre: "Desperate Angel" for X Japan.
- Driven to Suicide: Assumed to be the cause of his death - he was alleged to have committed suicide in custody after his arrest, and the case was originally closed with this as the official determination. It may still have been, a new investigation will be required to determine whether it was or not, but the testimony of his fiancee has brought this very much under question.
- Drowning My Sorrows: Taiji was a heavy drinker, to the point of being an alcoholic.
- Everybody Must Get Stoned: His music was often written under the influence, and some of his stuff (especially some of the D.T.R. songs like "Cybernetic Crime" or "Duel Beast" or "Apocalypse") falls into this category.
- Grief Song: "Dear Friend," written for hide.
- He's Back: Sadly, it was Too Good to Last.
- Heterosexual Life Partners: hide and Pata while he was with X.
- Hookers and Blow: Once had white powder on his clothes during a show with The Killing Red Addiction...
- Hope Spot: 2009 and 2010. He'd recovered from life-threatening injuries, by all accounts was beginning to get toward Functional Addict territory if not on the wagon, he was performing with major bands including his first gig outside of Japan in LA in 2009 and returning to play with X Japan in 2010. He'd formed a new band, was active in creating fashion and jewelry, seemed to be working his way back up from nothing into stardom. Then a Black Widow came along...
- Hot Blooded: Very much so. He tended to be aggressive and seek out fights, and the official story is that this led to his death.
- Intercourse with You: "Desperate Angel" for X and "So What" and "Dirty Winner" for D.T.R.
- Japanese Delinquents: Taiji was a high school dropout and one of these (of the yankii variety, seemingly, as well as bosuzoku) before he became a professional musician.
- Lead Bassist: Types A and C.
- Money, Dear Boy: Some of his fans think that was why he rejoined X Japan.
- Never Suicide: Started out as a Conspiracy Theory, but gained credibility with the testimony of Taiji's fiancee that he had no neck wounds, with the information about Kitami's and Shinso's conduct around him in his last days and after his death that has gotten out, and with quite a few people, including other artists he knew, providing information that he was not suicidal at the time - but was a victim of financial fraud, feeling angry and tired of his situation, and was worried about his future. While his death may still have been suicide (and a new legal investigation will be required to verify the truth once and for all) it is definitely possible he was a victim of Police Brutality or homicide in custody.
- Nice Hat: He usually almost always had one, whether it's his cowboy hat, a fedora, a bucket hat, a hoodie....
- Off The Wagon: Extreme example, enough to argue that in his case, Drugs Are Bad. He went from a successful career to abject poverty and homelessness, suffered a series of ongoing health problems, and had almost died on a variety of occasions leading up to his death.
- Outlived Its Creator: TSP as a band, which Shu kept ongoing as a memorial and as an act in and of its own right.
- Police Brutality: How he likely actually died, since witnesses stated there was no evidence of hanging, and he died in US federal custody in Saipan.
- Precision F-Strike: The lyrics to "Desperate Angel" for X Japan and "So What" for D.T.R.
- Rockstar Song: "Easy Fight Rambling" for X Japan, "So What" for D.T.R.
- Sanity Slippage: 1993-1998, over which he lost his career and became The Mentally Disturbed and severely injured. He would recover somewhat before he died, but...
- Self-Serving Memory: Compare his recollection of some events in "Sei To Shi" to Yoshiki's recollection of the same events in his self-titled biography. And as an example of an endless loop, now go to Yoshiki Hayashi and look up Self-Serving Memory.
- Sex Drugs And Rock And Roll: Almost the perfect example of how Sex Drugs And Rock And Roll can destroy someone.
- Smoking Is Cool: Somewhat averted with his health problems, though not much of an aversion, in that his health problems seemed to originate more from alcohol, less legal stimulants, and poverty.
- Survivor Guilt: Taiji was hit especially hard by the death of hide who was one of his closest friends. He also played in Loudness and was a friend of late drummer, Munetaka Higuchi, who died of cancer November 30, 2008 - which led to his playing at both the 2009 and 2010 Munetaka Higuchi memorial shows.
- Tragedy: His life onstage and offstage would qualify as this. So much potential, so much promise, so much hope, and seemingly no way to ever make it last enough to live.
- Wretched Hive: He died in Saipan, CNMI, which is a Real Life Wretched Hive.
- Yakuza: There were and are persistent rumors of his membership, which may just be due to Japan's anti-tattoo cultural bias.