X Japan: A blast from the past with Hide, Yoshiki and Toshi

When I first moved to Japan in 1992, a friend of mine happened to know “hide” from a visual kei band called X-Japan. Free tickets and free beers with the band made for good memories.

When I first moved to Japan, I was hearing this amazing heavy metal everywhere I went. The band I was listening to was called X-Japan. They were a visual-kei (visual type) band that seemed influenced by KISS and other bands that felt that hard rock had to be associated with big hair and bad makeup. But these guys were great.

Unlike the no-talent pretty-boy bands always being produced in Japan, X was self-made and could play like crazy. I had actually played drums with a band when I was younger — but their leader, Yoshiki, could play in a way that I could never even get close to. Hide, the guitarist was a dedicated guy who loved experimenting with new sounds. And Toshi, the lead singer, could sing just about anything.

Then one day a friend of mine told me that he was friends with hide (pronounced hee-day). Next thing I knew, I was going to their New Year’s live concerts every year with front row tickets and drinking with the band afterward. It was all a bit surreal. And it was a lesson in fame — The guys on stage were nothing at all like they were off stage. On stage they were these rockin’ bad-boy types, while off stage they were just really great, intelligent, dedicated and well-spoken guys.

Today I was on YouTube and I found a video from the last live concert we were at. I dug up some old pics and here’s the band back in the early ’90s…with me sucking at the teat of fame trying to get in as many pics with the band as I could. What can I say, I was young.

They’ve since regrouped, but without hide, who passed away back in ’98. It’s also a blast from the past for me — I’m a lot older now — it seems that without noticing it, I’ve passed most of my adult life in Japan. But the 90’s and the X-parties are some of the strongest memories I have of Japan.

Hide…

Hide. X-Japan

Hide. X-Japan

Hide with the cheeky look on

Hide with the cheeky look on

Hide. Bored of having to take another pic with us losers.

Hide. Bored of having to take another pic with us losers

Hide. X-Japan

Hide. X-Japan

Yoshiki…

Yoshiki. A great musician and nice dude.

Yoshiki. A great musician and nice dude

Toshi…

Asking Toshi to pull my finger.

Asking Toshi to pull my finger

Toshi. Cool as a cucumber.

Toshi. Cool as a cucumber as always

And finally the video I saw today of “Rusty Nail.” Makes me want to jump up and do the X sign as I listen to it!

And if you want an insight into how cool hide was…check out the little smile he gives at about 3:55 into the video. In my mind…that smile was hide. When we talked, he was just understated, loved what he did, and he just got a kick out of doing things that made people happy. We should all be like that.

Rusty Nail!!

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