CUP Web site

RSS Feed

New Books

Author Interviews

Author Events

Keep track of new CUP book releases:

For media inquiries, please contact our
publicity department

CUP Authors Blogs and Sites

American Society of Magazine Editors

Roy Harris / Pulitzer's Gold

Natalie Berkowitz / Winealicious

Leonard Cassuto

Mike Chasar / Poetry and Popular Culture

Erica Chenoweth / "Rational Insurgent"

Juan Cole

Jenny Davidson / "Light Reading"

Faisal Devji

William Duggan

James Fleming / Atmosphere: Air, Weather, and Climate History Blog

David Harvey

Paul Harvey / "Religion in American History"

Bruce Hoffman

Alexander Huang

David K. Hurst / The New Ecology of Leadership

Jameel Jaffer and Amrit Singh

Geoffrey Kabat / "Hyping Health Risks"

Grzegorz W. Kolodko / "Truth, Errors, and Lies"

Jerelle Kraus

Julia Kristeva

Michael LaSala / Gay and Lesbian Well-Being (Psychology Today)

David Leibow / The College Shrink

Marc Lynch / "Abu Aardvark"

S. J. Marshall

Michael Mauboussin

Noelle McAfee

The Measure of America

Philip Napoli / Audience Evolution

Paul Offit

Frederick Douglass Opie / Food as a Lens

Jeffrey Perry

Mari Ruti / The Juicy Bits

Marian Ronan

Michael Sledge

Jacqueline Stevens / States without Nations

Ted Striphas / The Late Age of Print

Charles Strozier / 9/11 after Ten Years

Hervé This

Alan Wallace

James Igoe Walsh / Back Channels

Xiaoming Wang

Santiago Zabala

Press Blogs


University of Akron

University of Alberta

American Management Association

Baylor University

Beacon Broadside

University of California

Cambridge University Press

University of Chicago

Cork University

Duke University

University of Florida

Fordham University Press

Georgetown University

University of Georgia

Harvard University

Harvard Educational Publishing Group

University of Hawaii

Hyperbole Books

University of Illinois

Island Press

Indiana University

Johns Hopkins University

University of Kentucky

Louisiana State University

McGill-Queens University Press

Mercer University

University of Michigan

University of Minnesota

Minnesota Historical Society

University of Mississippi

University of Missouri


University of Nebraska

University Press of New England

University of North Carolina

University Press of North Georgia

NYU / From the Square

University of Oklahoma

Oregon State University

University of Ottawa

Oxford University

Penn State University

University of Pennsylvania

Princeton University

Stanford University

University of Sydney

University of Syracuse

Temple University

University of Texas

Texas A&M University

University of Toronto

University of Virginia

Wilfrid Laurier University

Yale University

March 7th, 2012 at 11:18 am

“We’re The Spiders!” — More from “Sayonara Amerika, Sayonara Nippon”

“Made-in-Japan Beatles? I hate it when they call us that. We’re the Spiders!”—Tanabe Shochi on why The Spiders passed on opening for The Beatles

Michael Bourdaghs has a very informative and fun companion blog to his new book Sayonara Amerika, Sayonara Nippon: A Geopolitical Prehistory of J-Pop. (You can also follow him on Twitter). In a recent post, Bourdaghs discusses Kamayatsu Hiroshi a member of The Spiders, a sixties band that part of the Group Sounds movement in Japan.

In the post Bourdaghs posts a clip of a great Spider song, “Little Roby,” whose opening riff borrows from the Kinks’ “Set Me Free”:

In the post, Bourdaghs offers a brief description of Kamayatsu’s career and impact:

Kamayatsu was the son of Tib Kamayatsu, a Japanese-American jazz singer whose career in Tokyo dated back to the 1930s. He debuted in the late 1950s as a country-western and rockabilly singer before joining the Spiders. He was one of the first Japanese rock-and-rollers to really “get” the new Merseybeat sound when it exploded onto the scene in 1964 and went on to compose many of the Spiders’ hits. In his seventies now, “Monsieur” Kamayatsu remains an active force on the Japanese music scene today.

Bourdaghs provides a fuller picture of The Spiders success and eventual dissolution in Sayonara Amerika, Sayonara Nippon:

The band’s first major hit came with the uncharacteristic “Sad Sunset” (Yūyake ga naite iru, 1966), a minor-key kayōkyoku-style ballad composed for the band at its record label’s behest by hit maker Hamaguchi Kuranosuke. Despite its soft feel, the record featured a distorted fuzz guitar. The Spiders’ debut LP, The Spiders Album No. 1 (1966), remains a landmark work in the history of Japanese rock and roll and provides a more representative instance of the band’s sound than does “Sad Sunset.” Unusual for a GS band, the album features all original compositions, many with English lyrics (including a new English-language version of “Furi Furi”), and many of them written by Kamayatsu. (By contrast, the group’s second album, rushed out one month later, consists entirely of cover versions of Western hits, including six Beatles numbers on side 1.) The twelve songs include both ballads and up-tempo numbers; all are built around guitar riffs, and most feature vocal harmonies in the Merseybeat style.

In addition to their early predilection for original compositions, the Spiders were also unusual among GS (Group Sounds) bands in that, after an original tie-in with Hori Productions, they set up their own management company, Spiductions. The band became a regular on a television variety show, helping it build a national audience. The Spiders also opened for a number of Western groups on their tours of Japan in 1965 and 1966, including Peter and Gordon, the Animals, the Honeycombs, and the Beach Boys. Famously, they turned down an invitation to appear on the opening bill for the Beatles’ Tokyo concerts in 1966.The band toured Europe in 1966, including an appearance on the BBC’s Ready Steady Go! television program. This overseas trip was ostensibly intended to promote “Sad Sunset,” which had been released in a number of countries there, though in reality the primary aim of the tour (as with Misora Hibari and Kasagi Shizuko’s 1950 American tours, discussed in chapter 2) was to improve the Spiders’ image in Japan. In an interview published just before their departure, leader Tanabe asserted that the tour would show they were not just Beatle imitators but had their own identity: “Made-in-Japan Beatles? I hate it when they call us that. We’re the Spiders!” He vowed that “we won’t give up our own originality” in performances for European audiences.In another predeparture interview, Tanabe expressed his hopes that the tour would raise the band’s image (and income) in Japan. The following year, the band would play a concert in Hawaii as well as make media appearances in Los Angeles.

The Spiders continued to enjoy hits through the mid-1960s. As with other GS bands, though, they found their popularity waning after 1968. In May 1970, Tanabe announced that he was leaving the group to devote himself full time to the talent-management business. The band recruited a replacement drummer, but this was short-lived. By year’s end, the group had decided to disband, and they played their farewell shows early in 1971 in the Nichigeki Western Carnival. Kamayatsu would later recall, “In the changeover from the 1960s to the 1970s, culture and music and everything was changing, and [our breakup] was just a reaction to that.”

Post a comment