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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: Ultimate Summer Hits: Beach Favorites

6. Sukiyaki

Comments

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marvins39
the russians shot down a korean airlines passenger jet. i think it was in the late seventies or early 80's. kyu's plane crashed into a mountain.
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... DJ Osborne thought it may have some interest with GI's that had been stationed in Japan an Korea it was teenagers and kids that kept requesting it making it a runaway hit on KORD who had the only copy. After several weeks it had run its course and went out of regular rotation only to reemerge on other local stations when Columbia released it nationally as Sukiyaki, using the name given in England ( remember the KORD DJ's stumbling over the original Japanese title. Billboard credits Osborne.
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According to DJ Richard Osborne (KORD radio Pasco WA) he received the Ue O Muite Aruko record from a teenage boy from Richland WA and that boy got it by swapping a stack of Elvis records for records that included it from a Japanese boy staying in Richland. This may have happened in the summer of 62 with a Japanese summer exchange program, or believed to be less likely a Kyoto youth Choir that stayed in the Tri-Cities in early 63.
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apollo1953da . 2 0 0 6
When I heard the song of test of honey my 1st I like it so much and I didn't know that person died on a plan crash . but I didn't know it was a guy singing that song at all . I thought it was a Asian girl singing that song and it should be the top number one song ( taste of honey ) should be no. 1 hit for the memory of the person who died . that year .OK
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Here's a YouTube link for those wanting to know what Kyu Sakamoto looked like and what Ue o Muite Aruko was about: https://www. y o u t u b e . c o m / w a t c h ? v = C 3 5 D r t P l U b c
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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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