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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.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Masaaki Hirao -- Diana (ダイアナ)


The announcement came out just a couple of hours ago so I think the folks in Japan are still getting the news although I've read a few YouTube comments here and there. Sadly, singer-songwriter Masaaki Hirao(平尾昌晃)passed away on July 21st at the age of 79 due to pneumonia in a Tokyo hospital.

Hirao was definitely one of the big songwriters for the kayo age, and along with other songwriters such as the late Yu Aku(阿久悠)and Takashi Matsumoto(松本隆), the list for his songwriting contributions to the plethora of singers over the decades on J-Wiki is so large that it has to be alphabetized. However, all the way before he started becoming more well-known as a composer, he was one of the big rockabilly singers during the 50s and 60s.

One of his earliest singles as a singer was a cover of the classic "Diana" originally by the Canadian-born singer Paul Anka. Created by Anka and Joe Sherman for release in July 1957, the Japanese version was released in 1958 with King Records director Go Makino(牧野剛)providing the Japanese lyrics under the pen name of Takashi Otowa(音羽たかし). Listening to Hirao's version, the lyrics come off as being a little stumblier than with other Japanese-language covers of American pop at the time. However, there's no doubt that Hirao had the golden voice.


Although Hirao didn't perform the song each time he came onto a music-variety show, it was still enough that I always pegged him as much as the Japanese "Diana" guy as I did peg him as the fellow behind the duet for "Canada kara no Tegami"(カナダからの手紙). And I think he really enjoyed performing it at concerts and TV shows.

We've had a few kayo songwriters pass away during the existence of this blog, and yesterday, we lost another one of the major composers for the old music. However I am grateful for the many many songs that Masaaki Hirao left us whether it be in the pop, aidoru and anison genres. May he rest in peace.

I also wrote up a Creator article on him last year so there is some biographical information about him there along with a number of his other creations, thanks to J-Wiki.



You can take a listen to the original by Anka.

3 comments:

  1. Ah, never has "Hoshi mo Nandemo Shiteiru" sounded more poignant... May Masaaki Hirao rest in peace. First, it was Toru Funamura, now him. This feels like 2016 all over again! But I'm glad I was able to see him a few times on TV. I'll always remember him as the best singers among the well-known composers I know.

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    1. Looks like "Uta Kon" didn't have any time at all to devote at least a few songs to Hirao. The hosts just did a brief elegy to him before going on with the rest of the show. And I think the show is going on summer hiatus until the end of August.

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    2. Yeah, I was kinda expecting something a little more like Funamura's tribute though - a few other of his works being showcased rather than just one. Ah, well, I wonder if the "Omoide no Melody" will squeeze in a couple of songs to pay tribute to both composers, like what happened last year for Rokusuke Ei.

      As for "Uta Kon" taking a break, I guess it was about time since I don't believe the show's taken a break since the start of the year.

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