Tokyo, Jul 10 : Johnny Kitagawa, who shaped Japan's most loved boy band landscape for more than a century, passed away in a hospital here on Tuesday.
"Kitagawa, who founded Japan's top male talent agency and production company Johnny & Associates Inc in 1962, had been in hospital since June 18 due to a subarachnoid hemorrhage, a type of stroke," national news daily Japan Today reported. Born in Los Angeles in 1931, the Japanese-American spent most of his childhood shuttling between Japan and the United States. He eventually settled in Japan in the 1950s after serving with the U S Army teaching English to orphans during the Korean War.
He propelled one pop group after another to fame. His most successful acts -- such as SMAP, Arashi, KAT-TUN and Hey! Say! JUMP -- are household names across the country.
One of the most revered figures in the entertainment industry, Kitagawa's hit-making strategy of not limiting his artists to releasing records, but placing them in a range of variety and TV shows, enabled him to maintain a virtual monopoly on boy bands for over 57 years. Kitagawa was the holder of three Guinness World Records titles for the most No. 1 artists, the most No 1 singles and the most concerts produced by an individual.
Despite all of this his career was not without incident. He was the subject of numerous allegations of sexual misconduct. In 1999, Japanese weekly magazine 'Shukan Bunshun' published a series detailing accusations of child abuse and sexual exploitation made by several boys under his wing. However, he was never charged with any crimes on the basis of the allegations.
Hideaki Takizawa, a former member of the J-pop idol duo Tackey & Tsubasa who was named president of Johnnys' Island Inc, an affiliate company of Johnny & Associates, this January, is rumored to be Kitagawa's successor. UNI