||[B]ecause of our hardcore outfit and make-up, critics didn't take the music seriously and dismissed us by saying, "They aren’t playing music" or "It's some kind of show or costume party." But as the audience grew and shows started selling out everywhere we went, I realized what I had been doing was right.
|— Yoshiki about the beginnings of X, Billboard
In 1977, Yoshiki and Toshi formed a band called Dynamite in their hometown of Tateyama, Chiba, when they were just 11 years old. Dynamite changed its name to Noise in 1978, while they were still in high school. At this time, Toshi played guitar and they had a singer named Kurata. In 1982, Noise disbanded and Yoshiki and Toshi formed a new band, they named it X while they tried to think of another name, but the name stuck. X began to actively perform in the Tokyo area in 1985 with a frequently changing lineup. They originally attempted to pitch in with Japan's underground punk movement, but the band did not fit in with it as they were considered too commercial and flamboyant. Their first single, "I'll Kill You" was released on Dada Records in June and the band contributed "Break the Darkness" to the sampler Heavy Metal Force III in November, which also featured a song by Saver Tiger. In November 1985 bassist Taiji (ex:Dementia) joined X, though he left the group shortly thereafter.
To ensure a continuous outlet for the band's music, Yoshiki founded the independent label Extasy Records in April 1986, and released their second single "Orgasm". Taiji would officially rejoin the band in November of that same year. The songs "Stab Me in the Back" and "No Connexion", for the February 1987 Victor Records sampler Skull Thrash Zone Volume I, were recorded with Pata (ex:Judy) as a support guitar player. Soon after these recordings hide (ex:Saver Tiger) joined as a guitarist. After Pata once again provided support, this time at a live show, he officially joined completing the group's first well-known lineup.
X circa 1990: Toshi, Taiji, Yoshiki, Pata, hide
In August 1987 they performed at the Rock Monster event at Kyoto Sports Valley and gave out their first home video, Xclamation. On December 26, 1987, the band participated in an audition held by CBS/Sony which led to a recording contract in August of the following year. In the meantime the band released its first album, Vanishing Vision through Extasy Records on April 14, 1988, and toured extensively in support of the record. The album's first press of 10,000 copies sold out in a week, topping the Oricon indies chart and reaching number 19 on the main Oricon Albums Chart, making them the first independent band to appear on the main chart. The Vanishing Tour Vol.2 took the band to 20 locations for 24 shows from June to July, while the Burn Out Tour had 12 performances throughout October. In November, X participated in music magazine Rockin'f's Street Fighting Men concert at Differ Ariake Arena. That year the members also made a brief cameo appearance in the American film Tokyo Pop, starring Carrie Hamilton and Diamond Yukai.
X's sold out Blue Blood Tour started on March 13, with two of the concerts selling out in advance, including the March 16 show at Shibuya Public Hall, which was later released on home video as Blue Blood Tour Bakuhatsu Sunzen Gig. The album Blue Blood was released on April 21, 1989, and debuted at number six on the Oricon chart. The single "Kurenai" reached number five and the band went on the Rose & Blood Tour, which was temporarily suspended when Yoshiki collapsed after a November 22 concert. This success earned the band the "Grand Prix New Artist of the Year" award at the 4th annual Japan Gold Disc Awards in 1990. On November 24, 1990, X flew to Los Angeles to begin recording their follow-up album, Jealousy. When members arrived back in Japan in June, 500 members of the Japan Self-Defence Forces were at the airport to control the crowd. The album was released on July 1, 1991, and debuted at number one, selling over 600,000 copies. It was later certified million by the RIAJ. In August the band performed their first concert at Japan's largest indoor concert venue, the Tokyo Dome. Footage from most of the band's shows in that stadium would later be released on CD and home video. The show was part of the Violence in Jealousy Tour, which lasted to the end of the year and once again saw Yoshiki collapse after the October 24 Yokohama Arena gig. December 8 saw the X with Orchestra concert at NHK Hall, where, as the name suggests, the band performed backed by an orchestra.
1992 began with three sold out concerts at the Tokyo Dome, titled Tokyo Dome 3 Days: On the Verge of Destruction, on January 5–7. The title was possibly more meaningful than it appears at first glance, as on January 31 it was announced that bass player Taiji had left the group. The official reason given for his departure was due to musical differences. However, in his autobiography, Taiji claims he was asked to leave because he confronted Yoshiki due to the substantial income gap between Yoshiki and each of the other members. When asked about Taiji's departure in 2016, Yoshiki said "he crossed the line of our band's rules" and "To this day I still don't know if the decision was right or wrong, but we didn't have a choice." On August 24, 1992, the band held a press conference in New York at Rockefeller Center. There, Heath (ex:Media Youth) was announced as their new bass player. Around this time, the band's success in Japan made an international breakthrough appear likely, leading to them leaving Sony for an American record contract with Atlantic Records and the renaming of the band from X to X Japan, in order to distinguish from the American punk group X. (An American album release would never happen.) Their first show with Heath was at the October 1992 Extasy Summit at Osaka-jō Hall.
1993–97: X Japan
The X Japan logo, used by the band after the name change in 1992.
Art of Life was released on August 25, 1993, by Atlantic Records, and consists solely of the 29-minute, heavily orchestrated title track. It debuted at number one, however the band only performed two concerts that year, as each member began solo careers. Aptly titled X Japan Returns, the concerts were held at the Tokyo Dome on December 30 and 31, marking the beginning of a New Year's Eve tradition that would last until the group's disbandment. The solo careers continued into the following year, with X Japan only performing four shows. The first two were the last two days of The Great Music Experience, and the others were December 30–31 at the Tokyo Dome, titled Aoi Yoru (青い夜, Blue Night) and Shiroi Yoru (白い夜, White Night) respectively.
1995 was also quiet, until November 19 when the band began the tour for their next album, Dahlia Tour 1995–1996. Around this time, the group dropped most of its original visual kei aesthetics in favor of a more casual look. While it wasn't released until November 4, 1996, singles from the album had been released as early as a few months after Art of Life. Though this caused Dahlia to contain relatively little new material, the album reached number one on the charts. The tour was originally scheduled to end on March 31, 1996, however, it was cut short when Yoshiki herniated cervical vertebrae after the March 13 show. They did however perform their tradition of two Tokyo Dome concerts on December 30–31, titled Resurrection Night (復活の夜 Fukkatsu no Yoru) and Reckless Night (無謀な夜 Mubōna Yoru).
On September 22, 1997, at 1 pm, Yoshiki, hide, Pata and Heath held a press conference where they announced that X Japan would disband. Vocalist Toshi decided to leave the band as the glamorous, success-oriented life of a rock star failed to satisfy him emotionally, as opposed to a simpler life and career. He stated that he had made the decision back in April 1996, though it was not publicly disclosed. However, around twelve years later he confirmed what was long-reported in the media; that he was "brainwashed" via violence and abuse and conned out of money, leading to bankruptcy. X Japan performed their farewell show, titled The Last Live: Last Night, at the Tokyo Dome on December 31, 1997, making it the last of five consecutive New Year's Eves the group performed at the stadium. Although later that same day they played "Forever Love" at that year's Kōhaku Uta Gassen, marking their true last performance.
1998–2007: Post X Japan
While reissues, compilations and live footage continued to be released, the members of X Japan pursued solo careers and other projects. hide, who released his first solo album Hide Your Face in 1994, continued his solo career with a sound distinctively different from X Japan's music, leaning more towards alternative rock, until his death on May 2, 1998. Just two months later, the debut album 3.2.1. from his American-based band Zilch, which included Ray McVeigh (The Professionals), Paul Raven (Killing Joke) and Joey Castillo (Queens of the Stone Age), was released. His third solo album Ja, Zoo, formally including his live band Spread Beaver, was released in November 1998 and became his most successful, having reached number one and sold over a million copies. Prior to his death, hide and Yoshiki talked about restarting X Japan with a new vocalist in the year 2000.
Toshi's solo career, which began in 1992, has been extensive, with him having released over 30 albums and performed numerous acoustic shows for smaller audiences. According to his website, his Utatabi Traveling Concert tour included over 3,000 concerts between 1999 and 2003. After both having released solo albums in the early 90s, Pata and Heath teamed up with Spread Beaver percussionist/programmer I.N.A., who worked on several of X Japan's releases, to provide a track for the 1998 hide tribute album Tribute Spirits. The three would reunite again in 2000 to form Dope HEADz, which released two albums before ceasing activity. Heath then continued his solo career and Pata formed the instrumental rock group Ra:IN, which later added Spread Beaver keyboardist DIE.
Before the band's breakup, Yoshiki had already independently collaborated with Queen drummer Roger Taylor on the single "Foreign Sand" and provided the Japanese contribution to the international Kiss tribute album Kiss My Ass: Classic Kiss Regrooved, an orchestral arrangement of the song "Black Diamond". A compilation with orchestral treatments of X Japan songs, titled Eternal Melody was also released. It was performed by the London Philharmonic Orchestra and among others featured The Beatles producer George Martin as an arranger.
Since 1998 Yoshiki has engaged in numerous activities, such as briefly being a member of the pop band Globe, producing singles for the Korean rock band TRAX and numerous others, as well as working on his solo project Violet UK, which has yet to publish a major release. He has also contributed music to the movie Catacombs and produced the soundtrack of Repo! The Genetic Opera. On May 25, 2007, the formation of the supergroup S.K.I.N. was announced, which besides Yoshiki consists of pop/rock artists Gackt and Miyavi, as well as Luna Sea guitarist Sugizo. The band gave its first and only performance at the Anime Expo convention in Long Beach, California on June 29, 2007.
According to a report by the newspaper Sponichi, Toshi visited Yoshiki in Los Angeles in November 2006 to work on the song "Without You" as a tribute to hide. On March 21, 2007, Toshi announced on his website that he and Yoshiki had recently resumed working together, stating that a "new project" would commence soon. Rumors of an X Japan reunion subsequently began, and in June Yoshiki was reported as having expressed interest in a tour (beginning in Los Angeles), "Without You" being released as a single, and that he was in talks with Heath and Pata regarding their participation.
The band made its first public appearance on October 22, 2007, on the rooftop of the shopping center Aqua City in Odaiba, Tokyo, to film a music video for the newly recorded song "I.V.". The song was used as the theme of the American horror movie Saw IV. It was written by Yoshiki and recorded with all X Japan members of the pre-breakup lineup, as it utilizes previously unreleased guitar tracks by hide. "I.V." was released through iTunes on January 23, 2008, topping the store's charts on that day.
On January 20, 2008, two Tokyo Dome concert dates were announced for March 28 and March 30. Due to popular demand, they added another concert for the 29th. These three shows were entitled X Japan Resume Attack 2008 I.V. – Towards Destruction, with each individual concert titled Night of Destruction, Night of Madness and Night of Creation, respectively, and featured three guest guitarists filling in for the late hide – Wes Borland, Richard Fortus and Sugizo. The March 28 concert was aired live on the pay-per-view channel WOWOW. During the song "Art of Life" a hologram of hide (taken from footage of the "Art of Life" performance at the Tokyo Dome in 1993) played alongside the band. Because of technical difficulties, possibly due to the hologram, the first concert was delayed for over two hours and later came to an abrupt end when drummer Yoshiki collapsed eight songs into the performance. The subsequent shows were without such difficulties and during a press conference, plans for a concert in Paris, France on July 5, 2008, were announced, with an intended audience of 20,000 people. In addition to the Paris date, plans for concerts at the Madison Square Garden in New York City on September 13, and at the Taipei World Trade Center in Taipei on August 2 were also announced.
2008–10: Delays, Sugizo joins and first overseas performances
The hide memorial summit took place on May 3 and 4, 2008 at Ajinomoto Stadium, with X Japan performing the second day, as a tribute to the musician who was also a former X guitarist. Numerous other popular acts such as T.M.Revolution, Oblivion Dust and Versailles also performed, with Phantasmagoria and Luna Sea even reuniting for one day. Organizers planned for an estimated 100,000 fans to attend the two shows. On June 8, it was reported that all of X Japan's previously scheduled shows would be postponed until further notice, due to a recurrence of Yoshiki's disc herniation. The Paris and Taipei concerts were rescheduled, Paris for November 22, 2009.
A special illumination in Taipei, in celebration of the first X Japan live concert in Taiwan in 2009.
On September 15, 2008, Yoshiki held a press conference in Tokyo, where he announced a new, unnamed X Japan song was in the works. Concerts at Saitama Super Arena on Christmas and New Year's Eve 2008 were also announced. After the conference Yoshiki went on a promotional tour across Asia. On November 7, the French ticketing website Avos announced that the planned ticket sale for the show in Paris would be canceled. Later that day, X Japan released a press statement through their French language website apologizing for the second postponement and announced that the planned Christmas shows would likely suffer a similar fate. On December 31, X Japan performed their New Year's Eve countdown performance at the Akasaka Blitz.
X Japan in concert in Hong Kong 2009, featuring an image of the deceased hide on screen, whom they still consider a member of the band.
On January 15, 2009, the band arrived in Hong Kong for their January 16 and 17 shows. On May 1, it was announced that Sugizo officially joined X Japan as lead guitarist. Since the band still considers the deceased hide a member, Sugizo became the sixth member of X Japan. Their first show with him as a full member was held the next day at the Tokyo Dome, where they played "Jade" for the first time. The Taiwan concert that was postponed for a second time in January, was finally held on May 30, 2009.
On January 9, 2010, the band made its first public U.S. appearance by shooting four new music videos in Hollywood. The four videos were for "Rusty Nail", "Endless Rain", "I.V.", and their new song "Jade". In February, Yoshiki confirmed that X Japan will be performing at Lollapalooza in August. Later that month, he announced at a press event that the band would be relocating to Los Angeles, California, with a concert being planned for a "simple" venue in the city area to mark the band's first official North American show. It was also announced that a sixth album was in the works and was expected to be released in the fall.
In March 2010, Yoshiki filed a lawsuit against Nexstar Corporation, for 375 million yen in damages. The band's contract with the company included the use of recordings, the initial deal was for 600 million yen in advance royalties and contract money, which the band claims not to have received. Between 2008 and 2009, the company also sponsored several concerts around Asia and Japan, not having paid performance fees and merchandise sales to X Japan. In all, the total unpaid amount is more than 900 million yen. The lawsuit sought only 375 million yen for the revenue earned from the concerts, with an additional claim of 600 million yen in case the trial proceeded. Yoshiki's side eventually won the lawsuit in 2014, where the Tokyo District Court ordered Nexstar to pay 660 million yen in damages.
On July 1, the band appeared at Club Nokia in Los Angeles where they performed an acoustic setlist, and recorded a music video for the new song, "Born to Be Free". On July 4, the two founding members Toshi and Yoshiki, appeared in Paris at the Japan Expo 2010 where they performed some songs. During the following month, X Japan and Yoshiki were featured in numerous newspapers and websites such as ABC News, the Los Angeles Times and the Chicago Sun-Times. X Japan performed at Lollapalooza 2010 in Grant Park, Chicago on August 8. In the following days, Yoshiki did a Q&A article with the Phoenix New Times and was interviewed by ABC News.
On August 14 and 15, 2010, the band performed a two-day show at Nissan Stadium, the largest stadium in Japan. Some media reported an estimated attendance of 140,000 for the two concerts. Ex-bassist Taiji joined them on stage both nights as a guest for the song "X"; he would die the following year. Soon after, formerly deceased guitarist hide's management company, Headwax Organization, filed a lawsuit against Yoshiki and X Japan's management, Japan Music Agency, for using images of the former member without a formal agreement in place. The claim states that in 2000 the two companies signed an agreement allowing Yoshiki and X Japan to use visual images of hide during concerts. However, images were used at these Nissan Stadium shows, when apparently the contract already expired.
From September 25 to October 10, X Japan performed their first ever North American tour with dates in Los Angeles, Oakland, Seattle, Chicago, Vancouver, Toronto and New York City. On December 17, Yoshiki announced that a new X Japan song, "Scarlet Love Song", was composed for the animated movie adaptation of the Buddha manga.
2011–2014: World tour and Madison Square Garden
Pata, Heath and Sugizo performing in São Paulo, 2011.
It was announced on January 27, 2011, that X Japan signed a 3-year agreement with EMI in November 2010. The label will handle the American distribution of their single "Jade", which was to be released on March 15, and their untitled album, which was set for release in late summer. In promotion of the new album, it was also stated they would be touring extensively around the world throughout 2011. X Japan performed on March 6 at Asia Girls Explosion, a fashion event and music concert that Yoshiki created with Jay FR. It was announced they would perform in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Mexico and Peru later in the year.
Due to the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami that occurred in Japan on March 11, the band decided to postpone the release of "Jade" until June 28. Yoshiki also decided to auction off one of his used signature Kawai crystal grand pianos, of which all proceeds were sent to help provide aid to the victims of the earthquake and tsunami.
"Scarlet Love Song" was released in Japan on June 8, and on June 28 their first worldwide single, "Jade", was released, both on iTunes. That same day they performed in London, the first concert of the European leg of their ongoing world tour, which was followed by Paris on July 1, Utrecht on July 2 and Berlin on July 4.
X Japan also performed at the 2011 Summer Sonic festival that was held on August 13 and 14, in Tokyo and Osaka. Their world tour's South American leg took them to; Santiago on September 9, São Paulo on September 11, Buenos Aires on September 14, Lima on September 16 and Mexico City on September 18. The Asian leg of the tour brought stops in Seoul on October 28, Shanghai on October 30, Hong Kong on November 4, Taipei on November 6 and Bangkok on November 8. The Beijing show, originally scheduled for November 2, was cancelled by the promoters on October 25 due to "technical and production issues".
After more than two years of inactivity, X Japan announced the remastered compilation album The World ~X Japan Hatsu no Zensekai Best~ for release on June 17, 2014. Prior to its physical release, a digital version titled X Japan World Best became available in 111 countries via iTunes on May 21. They performed at Yokohama Arena on September 30 and October 1, and at Madison Square Garden on October 11. At both concerts, the cover of the song "Beneath The Skin" was played, originally written by Sugizo for S.K.I.N., the group formed by Yoshiki in 2007. They participated in Music Station Super Live 2014 on New Year's Eve, marking their first television appearance in seventeen years, the last being on Kōhaku Uta Gassen in 1997.
2015–present: New album, documentary film and Japan tour
In June 2015, Yoshiki announced X Japan's sixth and first studio album in 20 years would be released on March 11, 2016. The band has announced that the sixth album would contain between 13 and 14 tracks, including some short pieces. It was also announced that they were to perform at the Wembley Arena in London on the following day, where We Are X, a documentary film about the band, would be premiered. The band performed on June 28 at Makuhari Messe as part of the second night of Luna Sea's Lunatic Fest. The first single from the album, "Born to Be Free", was released on November 6, 2015. X Japan's first domestic tour of Japan in 20 years began with three consecutive dates at Yokohama Arena on December 2, continued with Osaka-jō Hall on December 7, Marine Messe Fukuoka on December 9, Hiroshima Green Arena on December 11, and finished on December 14 at the Nippon Gaishi Hall. They also performed on Kōhaku Uta Gassen for the first time in 18 years.
On January 15, 2016, Pata was rushed to the intensive care unit of a Tokyo hospital. He was diagnosed with a life-threatening condition, which included a severe blood clot, but was in stable condition. On February 3, X Japan announced the postponement of their album release and March 12 concert at the Wembley Arena for a whole year; the concert subsequently taking place on March 4, 2017. In June, Yoshiki stated that Pata was discharged in March, but had to go back for surgery in August. Pata announced he was discharged on August 10. X Japan headlined all three nights of the Visual Japan Summit on October 14–16, 2016 at Makuhari Messe. The We Are X soundtrack album was released on March 3, 2017. The soundtrack reached No. 4 in its first week in the Oricon Albums Chart, No. 27 in the UK Albums Chart, and No. 1 in the UK Rock & Metal Albums Chart. On March 3, 2017, an album signing took place at HMV in Oxford Street, London. All the copies of the physical copies of the We Are X soundtrack available at the signing were sold in the event. According to store staff, this was the first time there was a sell-out of all physical copies at such a signing. A new song, "La Venus" was used as the ending theme song for We Are X and was one of 91 songs in contention for nomination for the Academy Award for Best Original Song for the 89th Academy Awards. In April 2017, Yoshiki announced that the sixth album's songs were ready and only mixing and mastering remained, and release was expected "in the next few months". When Yoshiki performed on BBC Radio 4's Front Row on October 20, 2017, it was announced the sixth album would be released in Spring 2018.
On May 9, 2017 Yoshiki's management announced that the drummer would undergo urgent surgery on May 16, where an artificial disc would be inserted between his vertebrae. Due to his health conditions, it was reported that concerts would need to be either rescheduled or cancelled. On June 9, X Japan announced at a press conference that the concerts would not be postponed but instead performed as an acoustic tour, with Yoshiki at the piano, as it is uncertain whether he would be able to play the drums in the future. In November it was announced that X Japan will perform at the year-end Kōhaku Uta Gassen, as part of the White Team. The band performed a medley of "Endless Rain" and "Kurenai", and during the performance Yoshiki played drums again for the first time since his neck surgery.
The January 2018 issue of Neo magazine named X Japan the "Best Musical Act" in their annual awards, with We Are X named the "Best Asian Movie". In February 2018, the band's performance at Wembley in 2017 was named the "Best Event" at Wembley Arena in the 2017 SSE Live Awards. In March 2018, We Are X was named the "Best Music Film" in the Space Shower Music Awards. On April 10 and 11 the band performed at Zepp Divercity in Tokyo for a limited audience, and the concert was broadcast live across Asia in selected theaters. Richard Fortus, Wes Borland, and Miya of Mucc appeared as guest musicians. All three also joined X Japan for their first performance at the Coachella festival on April 14. At the second weekend of the festival, Marilyn Manson joined the band on stage and performed "Sweet Dreams" with Yoshiki on piano. When interviewed for KLOS's Jonesy's Jukebox, Yoshiki said the album would be released in either summer or fall 2018.
In July, it was also announced that X Japan would perform at the TV Asahi Dream Festival on September 15. On Christmas Day 2018, X Japan were named 43rd in that year's Oricon Favourite Artists poll. In an interview with JRock News on February 13, 2019, Yoshiki said "X Japan's album is actually completed. It took over 10 years to record, I'm looking for the perfect timing to release it."