Asia

X Japan's Yoshiki needs urgent surgery after decades of intense drumming

Yoshiki behind his drum kit Image copyright Instagram/yoshikiofficial

The frenetic, intense drumming style of one of Japan's most famous rock stars has caught up on him, with the news that he needs urgent neck surgery.

Yoshiki, founder of rock superstars X Japan, will have an artificial cervical disc inserted in his neck.

Known for his aggressive heavy metal drumming, he has often ended up in pain on the floor by the end of a show.

His management said the injuries he had sustained "would force a professional rugby player to retire".

All forthcoming X Japan concerts are being rescheduled and Yoshiki is expected to go under the knife within days in Los Angeles.

"I'm having neck surgery next week. This time the surgeon will open my neck from the front and insert an artificial disc between my vertebrae. I'm a little scared but I'll make it through," Yoshiki told fans on his website.

Global stardom

A quick YouTube search brings up countless videos of the man - full name Yoshiki Hayashi - drumming himself in a frenzy until he collapses behind his kit.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Yoshiki is known for turning drumming into performance

There's likely some performance mixed in here and there, but there's little doubt he puts more effort into his gig than just a gentle background shuffle.

X Japan's blend of androgynous glam and heavy metal turned them into one of the biggest acts in Japanese music history, with a huge and fanatical following, especially in the 1980s and 1990s.

The band transformed the music scene in Japan. They spawned a whole new style - over the top outfits, wild stage performances - and sold 30 million records.

Their fame caught on around the globe.

They reformed in 2007 and have been touring Japan and the world since then, with a huge gig at London Wembley Arena as recently as March.

A documentary about the band was released worldwide earlier this year.

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Media captionX Japan's Yoshiki: Music saved my life

The now 51-year old Yoshiki Hayashi is the band's founder, drummer, pianist and main songwriter so there's maybe reason why he pushed the drum performances very much to the fore.

He's also a classically trained pianist and frequently strayed off the heavy metal path, recording several classical albums or composing the song for the 2012 Golden Globe Awards.

All concerts on hold

But with a poor bones structure since his childhood, he is paying a price for years of intense drumming.

"Yoshiki has been informed by a neurosurgeon in Japan that his neck has experienced severe damage that would force a professional rugby player to retire," his management said.

"It has been medically determined that he is approaching his limit, both physically and mentally."

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption In January he still played New York Carnegie Hall

He is now to receive an artificial cervical disc, having already received prior treatment in 2009.

According to his doctor, he had already lost feeling in his left hand when he performed with the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra in New York's Carnegie Hall in January this year.

His management said X Japan would be reviewing July arena concerts in Japan as well as a planned world tour and the shows are expected to be rescheduled.

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