Around 6 years ago I was trying to do some research on what would be “period correct” music for a kaido racer. I tried googling things, but I wasn’t even sure where to start. I fell into the “city pop” YouTube pipeline that many of us have gotten into, but something about it didn’t feel like the right music for the style.
I reached out to one of my Japanese friends asking him about it and he drew me a very nice image of cars and examples of artists that type of person would listen to. This was a great starting off point for me. I’ve now organized some of the artists and added a few more that I have found over the years. Mind you, this isn’t all the music that people who were into kaido racers listened to, but some of the most popular ones.
This first post will be dedicated to more 70s and early 80s artists. I have also included photos of when fans would decorate their cars (and scooters) with the music groups they liked. From looking at my growing magazine collection, 1984 was about the earliest I saw bands on cars and mostly Eikichi Yazawa. By the late 80s and early 90s, many of the teenagers in the Jr. Young Auto magazines started hand cutting stickers to place on their vehicles. While scooters aren’t kaido racers, there was a lot of bands on them in issues of Jr. Young Auto and it helps put into perspective of what people were listening to.
Also check out the Spotify playlist I’ve made as well. I will probably update it more in the future.
Eikichi Yazawa – 矢沢 永吉
Yazawa is probably the most recognizable when it comes to kaido racers. In 1972 he gathered members to form his first successful group, Carol / キャロル. Originally the band’s inspiration was The Beatles and other rock & roll bands from the era. After a dispute in 1975, Yazawa split to be a solo artist and grew to become one of Japan’s leading rock musicians. As for choosing what song to feature, it’s a difficult one since he has many fan favorites.
Yokohama Ginbae – 横浜銀蝿
Their full title is “THE CRAZY RIDER YOKOHAMA GINBAE ROLLING SPECIAL”, but they also go by Yokohama Ginbae for short. With the pompadour (regent) hair style, sunglasses and leather jackets, it was playing into the bad boy and bosozoku trends of the early 80s. Which made them a success.
Chanels / Rats & Star – シャネル / ラッツ&スター
While many bands at the time were copying Yazawa’s Carol band at the time, lead singer Masayuki Suzuki wanted to do something different. He wanted to introduce doo-wop and R&B to Japan. Suzuki formed the band Chanels / シャネル in 1975. Their name was later changed in 1982 to “Shanels” was possibly due to a complaint with the French brand for using their name, or how international people would pronounce “Chanels” instead of how the Japanese pronounce it. This would only last for a short while until they renamed themselves again to Rats & Star in 1983. One of the controversies around the band in the United States is their use of blackface. While culturally blackface is considered extremely racist in the United States, sometimes in Japan it is viewed as appreciation. While I am not condoning their use of it, their original intent wasn’t malicious.
Pink Lady – ピンク レディー
Pink Lady is a pop duo that had a run of hits in Japan from 1976-1979, along with having a few Billboard Top 40 hits in the US in 1980. Some of their biggest hits are “S.O.S.”, “Nagisa no Sindbad”, “Wanted,” “UFO”, “Southpaw” and “Monster.”
Candies – キャンディーズ
The three of them were selected as mascot girls for the program “Kayo Grand Show.” The name came from the producer who nicknamed them Candies because they are “girls so cute you’d want to eat them” (I know, strange). They were compared to Pink Lady with their rise to success.