Ryuichi Sakamoto, an Oscar-winning composer, musician, actor, singer, producer, writer and activist from Japan, has died. He was 71.
Sakamoto died of cancer on Tuesday, according to the company Avex He said Sunday in a statement He posted on Twitter that he is looking for medical teams in Japan and the US and fans to respect his family’s privacy at this time.
“While he was diagnosed with cancer in June 2020, Sakamoto continued to create works in his home studio whenever his health would allow him to be. He lived on music until the end, the statement said, noting that a private funeral has already taken place in close family.
In a career that saw him score more than 40 films, including The last emperor (1987). Christmas, Mr. Lawrence (1983) and They come back (2015), Sakamoto also received two Golden Globes, a Grammy and a BAFTA.
Born in Tokyo in 1952 to a clothing designer mother and a literary publisher father, Sakamoto was surrounded by music, art and culture from a young age. He started singing at the age of 3 and attended the same famous liberal and creative clubs as Yoko Ono.
While studying at Tokyo University of the Arts, he first came across electronic music. Already a working session musician before receiving his master’s degree, Sakamoto became a founding member of the seminal Yellow Magic Orchestra trio in 1978.
Continuing to work on solo projects, he released his own B-2 Unit album in 1980; from far-away beats and melodic tracks Luxury in Lacupolis They have been cited by Kurtis Mantronik and Afrika Bambaataa as influences on their early electro and hip-hop productions. He would go on to release more than 20 solo albums.
Nagisa Oshima’s Christmas, Mr. Lawrence It marked Sakamoto’s debut on screen as a film composer and won a BAFTA. (Japan also recorded production during the British-Japanese War as a wartime prison warden David Bowie.) David Sylvian from Japan electronic pop electronic pop-Japan vocals to forbidden colors theme song, and Sakamoto wanted to work with him again, one of the many collaborations that marked his eclectic career.
Sakamoto played a Japanese Army commander again in Bernardo Bertolucci’s The last emperorthat as with Christmas, Mr. Lawrencecame forth through Jeremiah Thomas. The film won nine Oscars, including best picture and director, as well as best original score for Sakamoto alongside David Byrne and Cong Su. The same three categories also prevailed in the Globes.
Teaming again with Bertolucci and Thomas on Roof Sky in 1990, Sakamoto won another Globe for that score. In Stephen Nomura Schible’s 2017 documentary Ryuichi Sakamoto: Coda, the composer recalled how Bertolucci insisted he rewrite a section of the score on the spot while the 40-piece orchestra waited. The pair will reunite as judges for the 2013 International Film Festival.
In 1992, Sakamoto composed the music for the opening ceremonies of the Barcelona Olympics. He spent the rest of the decade writing prolifically, working with musicians from around the world in many different genres and writing scores for the ABC miniseries Oliver Stone. Wild palms (1993) and Brian de Palma’s Snake Eyes (1998).
In 1999, he improbably topped the Japanese charts with a song from his own BTTB an album that had been used in a popular TV commercial. song energy flowwas the first instrumental to go to No. 1 in Japan.
A long-time political activist, he has advocated against force and nuclear weapons, leading the movement against a uranium and plutonium plant in Japan. After the Fukushima meltdowns of 2011, he was a vocal leader in the anti-nuclear protests that followed.
Sakamoto had a brief marriage as a student, from which a daughter was born, and then married Akiko Yano in 1982. The marriage with Yano, herself a prolific musician, lasted until they divorced in 1992, although they did not make it official. divorced until 2006. Their daughter, Miu Sakamoto, became a successful pop singer in Japan.
He started a relationship with his manager Norika Sora in 1990, and they have two children together.
Diagnosed with stage 3 throat cancer in June 2014, he was forced to take the first significant course in his career. A little more than a year later, he announced that he had recovered and worked for veteran director Yoji Yamada’s. Living With My Motherwhich would be Japan’s foreign language entry for Oscar. This year also Alejandro González Iñárritu’s. torn They come backReceiving Globe, Grammy and BAFTA nominations.
Sakamoto served on the jury at the Berlin Film Festival in 2018 and was awarded Asian Filmmaker of the Year by the Busan Film Festival a few months later.
In the summer of 2018, it emerged that Sakamoto had found the music so bad in his beloved restaurant in Manhattan (he had already split his time between Tokyo and New York) that he contacted the chef and offered to create a stage play. The chef opened the same for a new bar and restaurant, without payment or ambition.