Kato Kazuhiko

The big news yesterday in Japan seems to be that the musician and producer Kato Kazuhiko was found dead yesterday in a hotel at Karuizawa of an apparent suicide. He was 62. 

I mention this on a film blog because, even though Kato started out in the folk boom of the late 1960s as a member of the Folk Crusaders, that was also the beginning of a long association with film. It was the Folk Crusaders who were the stars of Oshima Nagisa's Three Resurrected Drunkards (Kaette kita yopparai), a film named after the Crusader's big hit (that movie is thus generically a "kayo eiga" or pop song film). The Crusaders soon broke up and Kato formed other bands such as the Sadistic Mika Band and had other big hits such as "Ano subarashii ai o mo ichido" (which has appeared in a lot of movies), but he also started working as a songwriter and music producer and provided music for films. The most famous recent example of the latter is Izutsu Kazuyuki's Patchigi, which not only uses Kato's music, but is somewhat based on Kato's experience, when a member of the Crusaders, of trying to release a single of the North Korean folk song "Imujingawa" (that's the Japanese title), but having the company refuse the release for political reasons. (The Crusader's next hit, "Kanashikute yarekirenai" is apparently "Imujingawa" with the melody in reverse and rearranged.)

Here is the Folk Crusaders performing "Imujingawa" (Kato is the tall one playing guitar):

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