24 September 2011

Kondo Masahiko: Singer, Dancer, Actor, Professional Race Car Driver

Kondo “Matchy” Masahiko gets his own section because he is still with the agency after debuting in 1980 at age 16. His debut single, Sneaker Blues, was the first debut single to reach the number 1 position on the Oricon chart, and that is not just for a Johnny’s but for any artist that has been on the Oricon chart.

Matchy, 1985

He achieved his big break when he landed a role in the first season of the Japanese drama 3-nen 3-gumi Kinpachi-sensei with two other boys from the agency, Tahara Toshihiko and Nomura Toshio. The three were known as the Tanokin Trio and while Matchy and Tahara were solo artists and Nomura was the lead in a band they went on TV programs together as a trio regularly. Of the three, Matchy is the only one still with the agency.

He not only had an amazing start for a Johnny’s of his time but he kept going strong throughout the decade, winning two Japanese Record Awards which is the Japanese version of the Grammies. He starred in various movies and dramas and continued to release hit single after hit single.  He appeared on the major annual music program Kohaku Uta Gassen from 1981-88 and returned once in 1996 after that.

Though he had a lot of highlights in his early career he had his hardships as well. No greater hardship for him was the loss of his mother in 1983 when she died in a car accident. He was close to his mother so the loss was rather hard on him. Something that makes it even more tragic about the story he only recently told the public of about his winning of the Japanese Record Award in 1987. In December, the awards are given out in January, someone stole the ashes of his mother and threatened his record label over the phone not to accept the award. To this day the ashes have never been returned.

Because of his fame when it came time for him to learn how to drive, in Japan you have to be at least 18 to get a license, it was decided that he should avoid practicing on public roads so his manager took him to private speedways to learn. It was there that he gained his interest and love for car racing which eventually lead to him becoming not only a professional race car driver but also eventually the owner of a racing team. From 1998 to 2002 he put his idol career on hold to concentrate on racing instead.

In 1994 he married and is still happily married to his wife. They had a son in 2007 so Matchy is a part of the small club of Johnny’s who are married with children.

He returned to the entertainment world in 2002 but did not fully do so until 2005 to celebrate his 25th debut anniversary. Since then he has going back and forth between the racetrack and his idol career.

For his 30th anniversary he released a single whose lyrics for the title track were originally planned for him to sing earlier in his idol career, Zanbara. It was explained that it was decided that the lyrics were too sad for him to sing at that time as his mother had only passed away three years prior and the lyrics were about a man facing the loss of a loved one.

Even though Johnny’s stopped nominating their artists for the Japanese Record Awards in the 1990s, for his 30th anniversary they nominated Matchy for it and he won. It was stated that this would be a one off thing and was done because of Matchy’s history with the Japanese Record Awards, having won two of them previously.

Even though he is only doing his idol work during the off season for racing it looks like he’s back for some time to come and happy to remain a Johnny’s to do so.

Matchy, 2005

TRIVIA: Matchy has participated in the 24 Hour of Le Mans, a car race that mandates that the car in the race must be running the full 24 hours of the race, seven times with his best rank being 8th place in 2000.

He still holds the record of being the youngest male solo artist to debut at #1 on the Oricon chart.

He partnered up with the Junior band Question? to release a single together with the lead track being an ending theme to the Naruto anime series in 2007. The release was a one-off release under the name Matchy with Question?.

Next Entry > Giving a New Meaning to Playzone, Shounentai

Directory >
Johnny’s Juniors, full of rising stars and heartbreak
The Early and Rocky Path to Fame
Kondo Masahiko: Singer, Dancer, Actor, Professional Race Car Driver
Giving a New Meaning to Playzone, Shounentai
Hikaru Genji, Shining the Brightest and Crashing the Hardest
Otokogumi, Rocking It Old School
The Living Legend of SMAP
TOKIO, From Spaceships to the Over 30s World
Victory, Volleyball, Vegetable, Vicylce? V6
KinKi Kids, It's Not What You Think
Arashi, Storming to the Top
The Inseparable Duo, Tackey & Tsubasa
North, East, West, South ... It's big NEWS
Kansai Underdogs,  Kanjani∞
Cartoon? KAT-TUN!
Jumping to Their Dreams, Hey! Say! JUMP
Johnny's Black Sheep, Akanishi Jin
How to Debut Without Even Trying, Ikuta Toma
Kis-My-Ft2, Everybody Go (Roller Skating)!
Yamashita Tomohisa, Johnny’s Golden Boy
Entering the Sexy Zone
The 5Stars A.B.C-Z
International Ventures
Johnny's and Charity 
Odds & Ends


Jackie said...

Kondo Masahiko debuted at the age of 16? Wow, so young!
Johnny-san must have really seen a big talent in him and had confidence in him that he would be able to be successful already from such a young age on. And look at him now, he´s still active and a top idol in Japan.
When I think about it, there would be no 16 years old Johnny´s idol now who could debut solo and be that successful.
Even Yamapi needed many years to release a solo single. Also Takki was supposed to debut as a soloist but at the age of 21.
The more I respect that Kondo Masahiko was able to debut so young and kept on being really popular through the years.

Karina said...

I´m admiring Matchy, he´s such a great artist!
I want him to perform for many years!

Chris said...

Your project is really great and I appreciate all the work you do.
Thanks !!
I think even Johnny´s idols all respect and admire him . Matchy-san is really someone to look up to.

Thennary Nak said...

@ Jackie

Well Johnny's has always debuted their talents rather young.

If Johnny is good at anything it's being able to spot talent. Of course there was probably some luck involved as well.

It does seem like the time of young popular male soloists for Johnny's is over. Though I'm sure if Johnny's had it his way Nakayama Yuma would go solo.

@ Karina

I can't help but admire him as well. He not only accomplished a lot as an idol but also manages to do what he truly loves as well.

@ Chris

Thank you.

It's really clear why he gets all the respect he does from his kouhai.