November 8, 2014

TOKYO BEAT 1964

Youth Culture: Life Magazine helped to fuel a fascination with Japan in anticipation of the Summer Olympics scheduled for October 1964 with a special September issue. Ambassador Edwin O. Reischauer wrote about the partnership between the US and Japan (see my upcoming spy novel to learn about some shocking secrets he kept from the public!), and author Yukio Mishima shared his frustrations with both cultures. Much of the issue focussed on tensions between traditional and contemporary society, with features like "The Modern Paradoxes" by Brian Brake and "The Talisman," a short story of rebellion by Masao Yamakawa. A major highlight was "The Young in Revolt," an in-depth essay photographed by Michael Rougier (seen in top photo below). Rougier and correspondent Robert Morse followed a sub-culture of teens obsessed with a Tokyo Beatles band and captured both dynamic abandon and intimate fellowship among the "lost ones." The aim may have been to document disaffected youth, but the images tell us much more about cultural revolution and new styles of expression. Life's timing couldn't have been better, as A Hard Days Night debuted in Japan in August of 1964. Forty years later, I would film and photograph The Silver Beats, a Beatles cover band at the Tokyo Cavern Club. Although my generation's scene was much more subdued than Rougier's, it was a highlight of my art life to publish a photo of the group in Rolling Stone and to help the band land a spot in Liverpool's Beatles Week events. The series of images below from 1964 serve as a valuable window into 1960s Japan, exploding with new-found freedom and the pulse of Beat Music. Learn more: Rougier Tokyo Beatles, Japanese New Wave cinema at Criterion, Life 1964, Groovy Imitation Bands, Tadanori Yokoo, Japanese Group Sounds DVD, protest movement article Japan Times











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1 comment:

  1. I was in bangkok about ten years ago, and I read in a tourist paper that there was a Beatles festival going on in a shopping mall across town, so, I took a cab there to see what was on. It was a series of cover bands, all asian young men, presumably not just from Thailand but I didn't know. Every band was a slight variation of the impeccably tailored matching dark suit, with great black mop top hair, and they were all pretty good. I was hoping they would sing in Thai, or do their own songs, but they were English language covers, short sets, from hard day's night era Beatles. no merchandise, either, except one band that had t-shirts with slightly altered graphics for SERGEANT PEPPER'S ONLY HEARTS CLUB BAND. Pretty great tribute band name! These pictures are all very cool! They remind me of Koreyoshi Kurahara's movies The Warped Ones and Black Sun.

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