X Japan drummer Yoshiki says headbanging is dangerous after undergoing urgent surgery

Japanese heavy metal band’s drummer says he plans to play the piano instead of the drums at X Japan concerts next month after undergoing surgery to implant an artificial cervical disc

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 21 June, 2017, 3:26pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 21 June, 2017, 3:26pm

The frenzied drummer behind rockers X Japan declared headbanging to be “no good” yesterday, while sporting a neck brace at his first press conference since emergency surgery.

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Yoshiki, who is known for such intense drumming that he sometimes collapses on stage, shocked fans last month when he announced he would need an urgent operation to implant an artificial cervical disc.

On Tuesday, Yoshiki appeared at a Tokyo press conference in sunglasses, a black leather outfit and the neck brace. “I’ve thought about it and I have to say that headbanging is no good,” he says, drawing laughter from fans. “I may sound weird saying it at this point.”

I’m not well. It hurts a lot. I had an artificial cervical disc inserted but it isn’t used to my body yet.
Yoshiki

But the career rocker immediately appeared to take back his no-banging pledge. “I may end up headbanging again, unless there is a law banning it.”

The frail 51-year-old, whose group was one of the biggest acts in Japanese music history with fanatical fan followings in the 1980s and 1990s, cancelled all engagements leading up to and following the operation at a hospital in Los Angeles, where he lives.

A neurosurgeon in Japan had told the rocker he had such severe neck damage that it would have forced a professional rugby player to retire, his management said in May.

“I’m not well. It hurts a lot,” he says. “I had an artificial cervical disc inserted but it isn’t used to my body yet, maybe.”

The performer, whose full name is Yoshiki Hayashi, had previously suffered bone fractures, but that did not stop him from pursuing an aggressive brand of heavy metal drumming that often saw him writhing in pain by the end of shows.

X Japan combined the power of arena metal with the glam androgyny of David Bowie, and won legions of devoted fans ranging from screaming teenage girls to Japan’s former prime minister Junichiro Koizumi.

Yoshiki, who is also a classical pianist, says he plans to play the piano instead of drums at X Japan concerts next month.

In January, Yoshiki played the piano at New York’s Carnegie Hall with the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra, but he had already lost feeling in his left hand.

“It feels as if tens of thousands of volts of electricity are running through my hand,” he said earlier in the year.

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Still, he’s kept performing since that show, including at an X Japan concert in March at Wembley Arena in London.

“Many US artists have become legends after they died. But I want to be an artist who inspires people by keeping on going and staying alive,” he says.