FEATURE: History of HYDE

From the most dedicated and loyal fans of Japanese music to even the more casual of listeners, almost everyone who has enjoyed Japanese rock music has heard of the artist HYDE (also stylized as hyde in L’arc~en~Ciel). He is known as one of Japan’s most celebrated musicians, playing alongside the musical talent of X Japan’s Yoshiki. Anime fans would likely recognise him from classic theme songs of Rurouni Kenshin’s The Fourth Avenue Café, Fullmetal Alchemist’s Ready Steady Go, Gundam 00’s song Daybreak’s Bell, and Great Teacher Onizuka’s song Driver’s High. It’s easy to say that for a Japanese rock star, his work is quite well known. Even though his work has made it’s way across the globe, knowledge of the man himself and his career has traveled much less far. 

Hideto Takarai, known by the stage name HYDE, was born in Wakayama, Japan on January 29, 1969. He grew up dabbling in different artistic ventures, with a particular focus on drawing (though held back by color blindness) while listening to many western rock bands such as Deep Purple, until becoming interested in guitar as well. His artistic ventures eventually led him in the right direction after leaving the band Jerusalem’s Rod as a guitarist and joining the now highly acclaimed band, L’Arc~en~Ciel in 1991. The was the beginning of the rise to Japanese rock stardom.

L’Arc~en~Ciel, a visual kei rock band, formed in 1991 in the city of Osaka, Japan with hyde on vocals, tetsuya on bass, ken on guitar, and sakura on drums. The band is the highlight of hyde`s career, and they became successful in the indie scene with their songs influenced by the likes of Japanese rock band DEAD END and GASTUNK with formal members pero (dr.) and hiro (gtr) things seemed to be rolling in the right direction for the band.

After releasing the now Holy Grail of L’Arc~en~Ciel collectibles, the Flood of Tears single, the band was picked up by DANGER CRUE records and began the switch to mainstream success. However, through this process, it meant losing pero and hiro, but gaining sakura and ken as members. The band and hyde’s career flourished over the next few years with the albums DUNE, Tierra, Heavenly, and True being released. Then, a shocking incident occurredーsakura had been suddenly arrested for drug use in 1996, leaving hyde and the rest of L’Arc~en~Ciel without a drummer. After some time to decide on the future of the band, yukihiro replaced sakura and became the drummer for the band.

The band continued to skyrocket in popularity throughout Japan releasing many smash hit albums such as Heart, Ark, Ray, and Real. The momentum slowed down in the early 2000’s with members of the band unofficially deciding to go solo until a revival in late 2003. L`Arc~en~Ciel`s career carries on to this day, though at a slower pace than before, with many more album releases and a world tour in 2012, which sold out Madison Square Garden.

In the year 2001, the solo career of HYDE was born. As fans grew worried of the fate of L’Arc~en~Ciel, HYDE embarked on a journey of independent creation, beginning with his first album Roentgen. With the album being comprised of slower and melodic ballads, it became an important and unique part of HYDE’s discography. It came as a surprise to many fans of L’Arc~en~Ciel’s rock and pop style, as the contrast was unexpected.

During this time HYDE had also became to dabble in other areas of entertainment as well, such as acting. He has starred in films such as 2003’s Moon Child alongside popular Japanese musician Gackt, as well as 2004’s Kagen no Tsuki as the lead role. Simultaneous to his work as an actor in these movies, his second solo album 666 was released, which shifted in the other direction in terms of style with a hard rock approach. The solo career of HYDE continued well after the revival of L’Arc~en~Ciel in late 2003 with many more album releases such as the self entitled album HYDE and the album Faith, which is the birthplace of the future combined project of HYDE and Oblivion Dust guitarist, K.A.Z, which is known as VAMPS.

After working with K.A.Z with his solo album Faith in 2006 and during the tour for the album, something seemed to spark creativity between the two musicians. In 2008, the project between the two, known as VAMPS, emerged on the scene. Quickly after releasing two Oricon topping albums and a Japan tour, VAMPS jumped into the international scene with a surprising US tour. VAMPS quickly gained momentum with their heavy rock style and emphasis on musical talent as well as visual spectacle carrying on until announcing a hiatus after the 2017 North American tour.

Ever since the sudden hiatus announcement of VAMPS in late 2017, HYDE has continued his career as the vocalist of L`Arc~en~Ciel. Consecutively, he continued to turn up the dial on his solo career currently releasing exciting singles, including the upcoming release of a ballad single that includes famous Japanese drummer, pianist, and composer Yoshiki on piano. He has even featured as a singer on Yoshiki`s newest single Red Swanーthe theme song for the latest season of Attack on Titan.

We look forward to all the new releases of HYDE`s as his career continues to flourish in the west, especially with the announcement of his solo tour in the United States! HYDE will be touring the United States with the bands, In This Moment, Sevendust, and Light The Torch, as well playing in the festivals such as Welcome to Rockville and Epicenter Festival.

Announced tour dates are listed below and make sure to check his performance out!


American Tour Dates 2019:

5/5 Welcome to Rockville 2019 – Jacksonville, FL
5/7 Louisville Palace Theatre – Louisville, KY
5/11 Epicenter Festival – Rockingham, NC
5/13 The Sherman Theater – Stroudsburg, PA
5/14 Stage AE – Pittsburgh, PA
5/15 The Fillmore Silver Spring – Silver Spring, MD
5/21 Verizon Center – Mankato, MN
5/22 The District – Sioux Falls, SD
5/24 Arvest Bank Theatre at the Midland – Kansas City, MO

Article written by:

Rock music enthusiast who studies Japanese and wants to spread Japanese music across the globe!

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