Yellow Magic Orchestra drummer Yukihiro Takahashi has died, aged 70.

The influential musician’s death was first reported in The Japan Times following a statement released last week.

While a cause of death wasn’t shared in the statement, reports from Japanese media outlet Sponichi suggested he caught pneumonia in early January, which worsened.

The musician underwent surgery to remove a brain tumour in 2020. He later tweeted that he was expecting to undergo more treatment following his surgery after revealing that he had additional health problems.

Born on June 6 1952, Takahashi took to music from a young age, following the influence of his older brother. He learned how to play the drums by playing with college musicians while still in high school.

By the time he was just 16, Takahashi was already a studio drummer and had started to pick up work both as a drummer in various bands and playing drum parts for television commercials.

His work first rose to prominence in Japan when drumming in Sadistic Mika Band and then later via the release of his 1977 debut album, Saravah!

In 1978, he became one of the founders of Yellow Magic Orchestra and their self-titled debit album cemented Takahashi as one of the best drummers of his era, as well as one of the founders of synthpop.

Their debut album sold over 250,000 copies in Japan and entered both the Billboard 200 and Billboard R&B charts. In the UK, Computer Game/Firecracker entered the Top 20.

The band went on to release seven albums in total and alongside this, Takahashi released an abundance of his own material too, making twenty solo albums in total.

Recently, Takahashi’s solo work was reissued on vinyl. His debut Saravah! was reissued in 2019 via We Want Sounds, and Neuromantic was reissued for the first time in over 40 years in 2021.

He was also a member of the electropop group Metafive, a collective he formed with Keigo Oyamada, Yoshinori Sunahara, Towa Tei, Tomohiko Gondo, and Leo Imai after they worked together as Takahashi’s backing band on his 2014 tour.

Tributes from across the music world have come in for Takahashi.

Ryuichi Sakamoto, Takahashi’s bandmate in Yellow Magic Orchestra, shared a single grey square on social media shortly after the news broke.

— ryuichi sakamoto (@ryuichisakamoto) January 14, 2023

The band Sparks wrote: “Saddened to hear about the passing of Yukihiro Takahashi of Yellow Magic Orchestra and beyond. It was an honour to cross paths on occasion throughout the years.”

Erol Alkan tweeted: “RIP…Yukihiro’s version of “Drip Dry Eyes” was a personal obsession of mine over lockdown.”

You can read some more of the many tributes below:

Saddened to hear about the passing of Yukihiro Takahashi of Yellow Magic Orchestra and beyond. It was an honor to cross paths on occasion throughout the years.

— SPARKS (@sparksofficial) January 14, 2023

RIP.. Yukihiro’s version of Drip Dry Eyes was a personal obsession of mine over lockdown.

— erol alkan (@erolalkan) January 14, 2023

We are absolutely devastated to learn of the passing Yukihiro Takahashi, the incredible drummer behind Yellow Magic Orchestra with a brilliant catalog of solo material as well. Our hearts are with his friends and family at this time. YMO FOREVER.

— Light In The Attic (@lightintheattic) January 14, 2023

RIP : Yukihiro Takahashi (1952 – 2023)

Paul Hartnoll “Yellow Magic Orchestra are up there with the greatest of the pop electronic bands that help define the sound of ORBITAL”@ryuichisakamoto @ymo#electronicmusic #electronicpop #ymo #ORBITAL

— Orbital (@orbitalband) January 15, 2023

takahashi forever

— eric slick (@ericslickmusic) January 14, 2023

R.I.P Takahashi -YMO a trio of teachers xxx

— 808 State (@state808) January 15, 2023

Spinning this one from 1981 for Yukihiro Takahashi:

— Paul Smith (@paulsmithmusic) January 15, 2023

RIP to the legend

— giraffage (@giraffage) January 15, 2023

This is a developing story – more to follow

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