15 October 2011

Otokogumi, Rocking It Old School

Members: Okamoto Kenichi (guitar), Takahashi Kazuya (bass), Narita Shouji (lead guitar), Maeda Kouyou (leader, keyboard)

(from left to right) Narita Shouji, Okamoto Kenichi, Takahashi Kazuya & Maeda Kouyou

 While Otokogumi is the best known of the dai-sempai bands it is far from the first. The agency tried boy bands a few times before, like with The Goodbye. Otokogumi was the first to really be successful though, which may partly due to the fact that Japanese rock in general was having a boom in popularity at the time that they appeared as they are probably the least idol-like group Johnny’s has ever had.

The group went through various line-ups and name changes during their Junior years before becoming the four man unit they were when they debuted. As a Junior group they had been active since 1985 but did not debut until 1988. Their debut single, Daybreak, was #1 on the Oricon charts and sold over a million copies.

What really set the group apart was the fact they were more of an actual rock band than a boy band. They even began to write their own music eventually. They were also known for the fact that none of the members graduated from high school. During their seven year career as a group they released ten albums (8 studio albums, 2 best of albums) yet only ten singles.

In 1993 the band surprised fans when they cancelled a sold out tour without warning and Takahashi was fired from the agency while the band was at the height of their popularity. In 1994 they officially broke up with only one member of the band staying with the agency and the other remaining two leaving. The information that can be gleaned from various sources was that Takahashi was suspected of using drugs, which is a huge no-no for an idol no matter how rock band like they are. Okamoto tried to keep the band going despite Takahashi’s firing but when TOKIO debuted the same year it did not look like Johnny’s wanted Otokogumi to continue on after the scandal.

Takahashi Kazuya continued on with his music career after Johnny’s let him go as his alleged drug use was never proven. He formed a few bands before joining his current one called Midnight Angel. He has also done some acting. He is also a father of six.

Maeda Kouyou was the last member added to the group but had no prior experience or training on instruments. He was still made leader of the group and he was in charge of the keyboard. Like Takahashi continued on with music and rock bands after Otokogumi disbanded. Currently he is in the same band as Takahashi, Midnight Angel. He is married and in 2007 became a father.

Narita Shouji joined the agency with help from his older brother, who was a Junior at the time, who introduced him to Johnny at a concert so he could be scouted. In 1992 he married, his now ex-wife, who was pregnant at the time with their daughter. Like the other members who left Johnny’s he continued on with various other rock bands. In 2009 he was arrested for drug possession.

Okamoto Kenichi is also part of the small group of Johnny’s that have married and had at least a child. He is divorced though but his son, Okamoto Keito, lives with him and is also a member of the agency. In fact in 2007 Kenichi became the first Johnny’s to have his son also debut as a Johnny's, when Keito debuted with Hey! Say! JUMP. Kenichi is still active in the agency with mainly doing stage plays.

TRIVIA: As a Junior group the band started off being called Tokyo then Tokyo Otokogumi before later settling on Otokogumi.

They performed with support members as they didn’t have a drummer. Their first support drummer was also the drummer that worked with Domoto Tsuyoshi for his early solo work.

Their debut single had four different versions, so they are one of the earliest Johnny’s group to have more than one version of a release.

Next Entry > The Living Legend of SMAP

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...

Thank you for this entry as always!
I learned a lot today again^^

Misa said...

Oh, Keito´s father !! First time I see him !!
And I didn´t know he was in Otokogumi .. good to know^^

Thennary Nak said...

@ Jackie

And you're welcome as always. I'm glad I was able to find a good amount of information for this group.

@ Misa

Yep, and of course Keito picked up playing the guitar from him too.