Japanese singer-actor Hideki Saijo passed away in a hospital in Yokohama, Japan on May 16 at 11.53pm. The cause of death was acute heart failure. He was 63. According to his agency, the singer was hospitalised on April 25 after he fell unconscious when he was in the company of his family members. The J-pop icon, whose birth name is Tatsuo Kimoto, was born in Hiroshima, Japan on April 13, 1955.
He made his debut in 1972 when he was 16 and became a pin-up star in Japan and most of Asia with the hit Young Man, the Japanese version of Village People’s 1978 disco song Y.M.C.A. Unlike the original camp version, the Japanese hit was actually intended to inspire young men. Another of his popular cover song was Spanish singer Enrique Iglesias’ 1999 Latin dance pop hit Bailamos (Let’s Dance).
Together with fellow Japanese singers Hiromi Go and Goro Noguchi, Saijo was dubbed Shin Gosanke (The New Select Three). Saijo was close friends to Asia’s biggest stars such as Leslie Cheung and Anita Mui, both of whom died in 2003.
Apart from a successful singing career, Saijo also dabbled in acting starring in films like Ai To Makoto (Love And Sincerity) and dramas like Terauchi Kantaro Ikka (Triple Generation Family), and took part in various television shows ranging from gardening to cooking.
He was a regular gym-goer and enjoyed saunas and led an active lifestyle. Unfortunately, his health took a turn for the worse after he suffered two brain strokes, first in June 2003 when he was 48, and the second stroke hit eight years later in December 2011.
His speech was slurred and the right side of his body was paralysed, but he continued to work hard on rehabilitation and continued to perform on stage. Last year, he released a DVD and staged his Hideki Saijo 45th Anniversary Concert 2016 with shows in Osaka, Tokyo and Kanagawa to commemorate his years in showbiz.
He got married to Miki Makihara in 2001, and they have one daughter and two sons. His family will be conducting a memorial in Tokyo on May 25, and his funeral will be held on May 26.