I would like to give credit where credit is due. Videos are from YouTube and other sources such as NicoNico while Oricon rankings and other information are translated from the Japanese Wikipedia unless noted.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Yuzo Kayama and The Launchers -- Black Sand Beach (ブラック・サンド・ビーチ)

Note: This article was meant to go up last month, but due to the number of things stacked on my plate from late April till the end of last week, I decided to give writing a break. Things have mostly settled down for now and I'm done with slothing around in the aftermath, so, I'm back! When reading this post, imagine that we're still in the middle of April.

Just a couple of weeks ago, everyone's favourite talented nice guy from the 60's hit 80 years of age as of 11th April 2017 (whew)! Congrats to Yuzo Kayama (加山雄三) on this milestone, and may he last as long or longer than Yoshio Tabata (田端義夫) did - my other guitar hero lasted till the ripe old age of 94. As mentioned on "Uta Kon" last week, in commemoration of his 80th birthday, or Sanju (傘寿), Kayama's title of Wakadaisho seemed to be upgraded to "Eien no Wakadaisho" (永遠の若大将... The Eternal Wakadaisho) - none before him, and none after.

While it was definitely wonderful to still be able to see such a cool icon from way back in the day alive and kicking and strumming his shiny, red electric guitar on the NHK stage, I couldn't help but feel a hint of poignancy as the episode also payed the late Peggy Hayama (ペギー葉山) a tribute. She was only a few years Kayama's senior when she passed on, which reminded me that the Wakadaisho is not as immortal as his new title suggests... Man, when he's gone I'm pretty sure it'll hit me like a ton of bricks.

Alright, sorry for being morbid there, it was just something that crossed my mind. On a lighter note, I too wanted to pay Kayama a little tribute with an article. It took me a while to think of what song to talk about since most of my favourites have been accounted for in KKP, but I eventually found "Black Sand Beach" via the medley at the start of the write-up. 

This instrumental piece is filled with the deep twang from the electric guitar and the soaring synths at the "chorus", and it's got a strong beach/surfer dude vibe fitting of the Wakadaisho's image during the mid 60's. One can imagine the tanned Kayama catching some waves and wiping out along the Hawaiian coast/a black sand beach. I'm not a fan of instrumental pieces because part of why I enjoy listening to music is a singer's vocals, but "Black Sand Beach" is one of those rare exceptions; it's way too cool and catchy to ignore.

"Black Sand Beach" was released on 5th December 1965, together with Kayama's eternal hit, "Kimi to Itsumademo". Accompanying him in this single was the Group Sounds band The Launchers or as J-Canuck mentioned in "Mafuyu no Kaeri Michi" (真冬の帰り道), The Launchers 2.0 that includes Kayama's cousins. "Black Sand Beach" was featured in the 6th installment of the Wakadaisho movie series, "Ereki no Wakadaisho" (エレキの若大将). You can check out a snippet of it in the second video where the Wakadaisho, looking preppy and as stiff as a board, and his band are competing in some sort of electric guitar version of Nodojiman, and of course, with skills like that, the welcomed chime of the bells came immediately after. (Hai, tsugi no kata dozo!)

Oh, dang...


  1. Hello, Noelle. It's been a while and welcome back to the blog.

    I think the one reason that Kayama has been able to keep on showing his stuff on TV for so long might be illustrated by that surfer picture at the end of your article. He's probably kept himself in good shape all these decades although I'm not sure whether he's also enjoyed puffing on the cigarettes. He will always be the Wakadaisho!

    1. Hi, J-Canuck. Glad to be back. I missed reading and writing articles.

      Kayama definitely aged really well and I wouldn't think he's hit 80 just by looking at him. It didn't *seem* like he did much smoking back then (not on camera, at least), so that plus a wide range of hobbies to keep him occupied contributed to his longevity and endurance.


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