On the heels of sold-out U.S. and Japan tours with his recently formed rock supergroup THE LAST ROCKSTARS, X JAPAN bandleader Yoshiki held a press conference at Grammy Museum's Clive Davis theater in downtown Los Angeles Monday evening to officially announce Requiem, his upcoming 10th anniversary classical world tour with a full orchestra in the fall. The tour celebrates the 10th anniversary of Yoshiki's Classical album, his third classical studio record, which hit No. 1 on the iTunes charts in 10 countries.
Requiem is named for a song Yoshiki wrote after his mother died last year in May. "My tears became the melody," he said. "After my mother passed away, I couldn't do anything. I had to cancel my live TV shows. I had to cancel everything. So I said, 'What can I do?' I actually went to see a doctor. I couldn't stop crying. The tears kept coming for days. Then I started composing this song called 'Requiem' and I said, 'You know what? I should move forward. I shouldn't give up at this point yet,' so this tour that was just announced was already in talks and I said, 'Let's do this' for me to move forward and to really thank my fans and everyone who has supported me."
The tour will take the renowned performer around the world, starting with three performances at Tokyo Garden Theater (October 7th, 8th and 9th) followed by concerts at Royal Albert Hall in London (October 13th) and Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles (October 20th), before a final stop at Carnegie Hall in New York (October 28th). The first Japanese artist to headline these historic concert halls, Yoshiki said the one word that describes how he feels about playing these legendary venues is "nervous." He also revealed that the setlist will comprise classical music composed by Beethoven, Chopin, Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninoff with the rest of the concert consisting of Yokishi's compositions, including classical interpretations of songs by both of his rock bands: THE LAST ROCKSTARS and the legendary X JAPAN. Several special guest performers will be revealed in the coming weeks.
Yoshiki also announced that X JAPAN — who have topped 30 million in record sales and sold out the Tokyo Dome 18 times, but haven't released new music in eight years — will be dropping the single "Angel" in July.
After the press conference, Yoshiki sat down for a 45-minute conversation with Grammy Museum Chief Curator and VP of Curatorial Affairs Jasen Emmons who introduced Yoshiki as a "very special friend of the Grammy Museum" where he has performed four times and has been the subject of an exhibit that featured his crystal piano.
There was a lot to discuss given the classically trained pianist and drummer's incredible career and accomplishments. Not only has he collaborated with St. Vincent, KISS and Queen, but he wrote the theme songs for the 69th Golden Globe Awards and Expo 2005, and composed and performed "Anniversary" at the 10th anniversary of Emperor Akihito's enthronement in 1999.
Yoshiki is also the first living person to have a Hello Kitty doll ("yoshikitty") named after him and the first Japanese male to grace the cover of Vogue Japan. What's more, he has a fashion line ("Yoshikomono"), his own champagne ("Y" by Yoshiki and Champagne Pommery) and his talent competition television series "Yoshiki Superstar Project X" led to the creation of boy band XY who will soon be making their debut.
As if that's not more than enough, in 2010 Yokishi founded Yoshiki Foundation America to provide humanitarian aid throughout the world for which he received the Japanese Medal of Honor in 2021.
Taking it back to childhood where the seeds of his musical legacy were planted, Yoshiki told Emmons that his parents, both of whom played musical instruments (his dad played jazz piano and his mom played shamisen) bought him a piano when he was four years old. Not only did he love playing piano, but he said that for reasons that are still unbeknownst to him, he had a preference for doing it while sitting in the dark. "I knew that I would be a pianist by the time I was four, five or six years old," he said.
As to Yoshiki's musical fluidity, his father, a professional tap dancer who ran a kimono business, bought him a new musical instrument every year on his birthday. After his father tragically killed himself when Yoshiki was just 10 years old, his mother carried on his father's tradition and bought Yoshiki a drum set for his birthday. "I found out 15 years later, it was actually my father's dream to become a drummer," Yokishi said, before speaking candidly about the catharsis of playing drums after his father's death. "When I lost my father, I was so emotionally lost, very sad. At the same time, very angry... so I started banging drums... I knew this would be somehow a part of my life."
One instrument that did not stick, however, was trumpet, which Yoshiki said he set aside after five years. He cracked up the audience when he said he dropped the brass instrument from his repertoire after his mom photographed him performing and he didn't like how the picture looked. "So that's why I quit," he quipped.
Reflecting further on his father, Yoshiki said that his dad used to take him to record stores once a month to buy classical music, a ritual Yoshiki continued after his dad's death, which led to his discovery of rock music when he was out shopping for classical music one afternoon and spotted a KISS record. Intrigued by the band's "crazy makeup" and "something about 'Love Gun'... I didn't know what that meant," he purchased the 7-inch, 45 RPM single on vinyl and, soon after, a KISS live album. When he was 11, he asked his mom to take him to see KISS, which was not only Yoshiki's first concert, but also "when I knew that I would become a rock star."
The Sex Pistols, David Bowie and Led Zeppelin have also been huge musical influences on Yokishi and his songwriting, which began when he was 13 or 14 years old. The 57-year-old musician said that he writes songs every day, writing all of his music, including rock, on score sheets, because of his classical training. He noted that he hears the music in his head and writes songs wherever he goes, including when he's traveling on planes.
After the conversation, the audience was treated to a beautiful live performance where, accompanied by a string quartet, Yoshiki played shortened versions of his songs on piano, including the heart-wrenching "Tears" written about his father and X JAPAN's upcoming gorgeous single "Angel" with singer Beverly on vocals.
For more info, including ticketing, regarding the Yoshiki Classical 10th Anniversary World Tour with Orchestra 2023 "REQUIEM," click here.