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Kyu Sakamoto

Kyu Sakamoto holds the record for the first number one pop record performed entirely in Japanese, 1963's "Sukiyaki." Though that's a sweet distinction to have, the translated lyrics to the million-selling song are anything but: "Sadness hides in the shadows of the stars/I look up when I walk so the tears wont fall...."

Kyu Sakamoto (pronounced "cue") was born in 1941 in Kawasaki, Japan, the son of a restaurateur. He began singing in jazz clubs as a teenager, before being signed to Toshiba Records in 1959. He had several Japanese pop hits and appeared in movies and on TV and radio programs. On a business trip to Japan, Louis Benjamin, president of U.K. label Pye Records, Ltd, heard Sakamoto's "Ue O Muite Aruko" (I Look up When I Walk). Renaming it after his favorite Japanese cuisine, sukiyaki, Benjamin had a Pye jazz artist record the tune, a Top Ten U.K. hit. Sakamoto's original version began getting airplay on DJ Richard Osborne's show on Pasco, WA, radio station KORD, which due to listener demand put the song in heavy rotation. Capitol Records bought the U.S. distribution rights for the record. Sakamoto's "Sukiyaki" went gold and charted on three of Billboard's charts: number one Pop for three weeks, number 18 R&B, and number one adult contemporary during the summer of 1963. On the flip side was "Anoko No Namaewa Nantenkana." The follow-up single, "China Nights" b/w "Benkyo No Cha Cha Cha" peaked at number 58 pop in late summer 1963. Other Sakamoto singles are "Elimo" b/w "Why" and "Tankobushi" b/w "Olympics Song." His only U.S. LP, Sukiyaki and Other Japanese Hits, was released that same year. "Sukiyaki," now a standard, has been a hit for A Taste of Honey and for '90s R&B group Four P.M. At the age of 43, Kyu Sakamoto died in a plane crash that killed 520 people on August 12, 1985, near Tokyo, Japan. ~ Ed Hogan
full bio

Selected Discography

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Track List: '50s & '60s Lost & Found Records Vol. 3

Disc 1
Disc 2
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Track List: Complete Sixties

Disc 1
Disc 2
Disc 3
Disc 4
Disc 5

Comments

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This song brings back so many good memories. I even learned how to sing it in Japanese! Love it!
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I grew up in the 60s to this song, introduced to us by my late father I think at the American Legion restaurant in Wheaton, IL. I still LOVE hearing it.
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mlicavoli2
A true classic
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This song is of love requited. Later done by Taste of Honey...
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An all time favorite!!!
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alissajoycru z
Love this Song! Very beautiful and haunting! Very romantik as well! Take me away Kyu!
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jamesr.oneal
Great memories!
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I've always loved this song; love if could be translated in English for me.
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On August 12, 1985, Kyu Sakamoto died in the crash of Japan Airlines Flight 123, the deadliest single-aircr a f t accident in Japan's history, and the third deadliest plane crash in history in terms of fatalities behind the September 11, 2001, attacks and the Tenerife airport disaster. He is interred at Chōkoku-ji Temple in Minato, Tokyo. As a young girl in the 60’s I was told that this singer was considered the Japanese Frank Sinatra.
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I lived in Japan for a bit in the mid-90's and I heard this song about 4 times each day at my job. I can't get tired of it. Love it!
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Great Stuff- North Jersey loved it, in its day. google him there are pictures.
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hildaj33
Wasent he killed when the Koreans shot down a plane some 40-50 years ago?
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kathybullock 6
I've never seen his picture any place.
Report as inappropriate
Love this song, but what the heck does this guy look like?

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