In May 1962, American instrumental kings, the Ventures, made the first of
many tours of Japan. Japanese teenagers immediately flipped over their
sound and started forming instrumental combos in the style of the Ventures.
When the Ventures returned to Japan in January 1965 they had become
household names and the impact of their music on Japanese teenagers
was enormous - the band was greeted with Beatlemania-like crowds.
Unhindered by the language barriers inherent in performing
American or British vocal music, hundreds of Eleki (Japanese English for
"electric," as in electric guitars) combos sprung up all over the country.
Domestic guitar manufacturers such as Guya couldn't keep up with the demand, so companies usually associated with other industries such as Victor (better known as JVC in the U.S.) began producing electric guitars. (Even a manufacturer of wooden clogs got in on the act!) In 1965 760,000 guitars were made in Japan, a record that has yet to be broken.
Two guitarists of particular note who came out of the Eleki Buumu
(Eleki Boom) are
Takeshi Terauchi and Yuzo Kayama.
Takeshi Terauchi's style is very Ventures-influenced, but much faster and more frantic with a heavy picking style and liberal use of his Mosrite guitar's whammy bar. Terauchi is probably Japan's first guitar hero and he's continued recording and touring through the years.
Yuzo Kayama first came to fame in 1961 as the dashingly handsome young star of the "Wakadaisho" ("Young General") series of teen films. Heavily influenced by the Ventures he formed a backing group, the Launchers and started recording for Toshiba Records.
In Yuzo Kayama's second "Wakadaisho" film, the 1965 feature, "Eleki No Wakadaisho" ("The Young General's Electric Guitar"), Kayama and Takeshi Terauchi perform together backed by the Launchers and they really blast the place to pieces!
Two of Yuzo Kayama's best known instrumentals,
Black Sand Beach and
Yozora No Hoshi were even covered by the Ventures
(as well as many surf bands),
who were so impressed with Kayama and the Launchers that they presented
him with one of their own signature-model Mosrite guitars!
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