former guitarist of X Japan and god of rock n' roll

1964 - 1998













































On the morning of May 2nd 1998, the world of Japanese music lost one of it's brightest and most influential musicians. Former X Japan lead guitarist Hideto Matsumoto known as "hide" was found dead in his apartment by suicide. He was found with a towel around his neck tied to the bathroom door having apparently hung himself. Hide was reportedly drunk at the time, but it still does not give any clue as to why he killed himself. He always seemed to be the most grounded member of X Japan and with a flourishing career and so much to live for, it baffles fans such as me as to why it would come to such a thing.

I sometimes hear American fans compare this to the suicide of Nirvana vocalist Kurt Cobain since it also had an enormously profound effect on the youth and the music industry of Japan. However I feel that such a comparison is too narrow and doesn't give justice to hide. While Kurt Cobain was a talented man who wrote good music, his influence on American music mostly had to do with being at the right place at the right time. However I feel that hide was a true musical genius above and beyond the cream of the crop. But it is quite true that Hide's death had a huge effect. 50,000 fans reportedly showed up for the funeral, stretching a kilometer from the temple. 12,000 actually attended the wake. 26 people were hospitalized as many fans fainted and a few others attempted to commit suicide. After the wake, two people died by suicide. It was a very sad time, but the purpose of this page is not a memorial. Rather than his death, I'd like to focus on the life of this great man. He gave so much to Japanese music and it's that that I wish to talk about. Yes he died, but he left one hell of a legacy.

Hide started out his career as a teenager with his heavy metal band Saber Tiger. But the band was frought with problems and broke up. He was soon recruited by Yoshiki to join X and began his rise to become a living rock legend. Hide infused X with incredible energy and showmanship. Yoshiki was supposed to be the main character of X, but soon (and almost despite himself) hide became just as popular. Through the years, apart from performing hide was also responsible for creating many memorable X Japan songs such as Celebration, Joker, Standing Sex, Scars and Drain. Around 1993 hide began to branch out from his role in X and release his own solo music whenever he wasn't occupied with duties as a member of X.

Through his solo work Hide really proved that he was not restricted by the typical X Japan sound. In fact he would become an entirely different artist when on his own. Once Hide put himself in a situation where he had complete creative control and freedom, you really could see what an extremely talented artist he really was. Being the guitarist of a heavy metal band would lead you to think that his music would be pretty predictable, but not so. Hide has an exceptionally eclectic ear for music. His music is a mixed bag of every style of modern music you can think of. For some songs like Beauty & Stupid he has a style reminscent of Los Angeles rock. Songs like Eyes Love You or Misery has a feel of late 70's glam rock. Other songs like Bacteria, Doubt and Squeeze it! have an industrial style. He has many funky fun-filled punk-rock songs such as Lassie, Ever Free and Hi Ho. Songs like Tell Me, Goodbye or Flame has a soft crooning rock style that treads the line between rock and pop. There's speed rock in songs like Dice and 50-50. And then there's just good ol' fun rock in songs like Rocket Dive, Gekai Haretsu and Pink Spider. Some song styles even defy categorization as they are unique to Hide. Each song is filled with creative use of sounds and instrumentation that give the music a very textured feel.

No two songs have the same style and I guess that's what I like best about Hide. With nearly every recording artist I've ever heard, there's a certain commonality in all of their songs. So you can only listen to so much before becoming bored. But with Hide you never get bored since every song has a fresh and innovative sound.

Not only in composing, but in performance his singing and guitar playing are infinitely wide ranging in style. Every song has noticeably different guitar playing skills. Hide is one of the greatest guitarists I've ever known and could make any band a success with his guitar skill alone. But it's his voice that is the most noticeable thing in all his music. Hide has a surprisingly versatile singing voice. So much so that in every song he sings, he sounds like a totally different person. He can sing in a high or low voice equally well. Hide can have a scratchy, metallic voice, a melodic voice, a fluctuating funky voice, or whatever else the song might require. Often his singing is just plain weird, yet still quite cool. Hide could have easily been the vocalist of X Japan. In fact I feel his singing is infinitely better than X Japan's lead singer Toshi, but Hide made it apparent that he prefered a less frontal position in the band. Besides, Toshi's voice is more suited to X Japan's brand of music. Hide had been the vocalist, X Japan would have been a very different band.

Hide's ever-changing, always exciting use of visual elements made him one of the biggest influences on the visual kei movement. I have no doubt that visual kei would not be as popular today as it has become if it weren't for Hide. Also if it weren't for Hide, hard rock may have not been as well recieved in Japan. In the early days of X Japan, Japanese music was overrun by squeaky clean bubblegum pop music. But the influence of X Japan with hide playing a big part helped create a real market for good solid rock music. Through his solo work, Hide was able to expand upon the appreciation for hard rock that he helped create, and open up people's minds to new forms of rock music that did not have to follow a trend.

Around the time of Hide's second solo album Psyence, he began his own production company titled "LEMONed". The company was aimed at helping up and coming bands and promoting Hide fandom all over the world. From the time leading up to the break-up of X Japan to the early part of 1998, Hide had been going in totally new directions with his band "hide with Spread Beaver". Spread Beaver (...ahem) was Hide's back up band for the last few years and it is only recently that they became involved enough to share the billing with Hide. Spread Beaver is is an interesting band on its own composed of 6 very funny and unusual members who are more than worthy of sharing the spotlight with the pink-headed one himself. Their style is on the skater punk side of visual and so is the music. The music of Hide with Spread Beaver is what rock should be, a lot of fun. It's a form of punk rock that has Hide's genius for mixing music genres. But before the band could reach its full potential, Hide died. The band had only released their first single "Rocket Dive" by that time and already they were without their vocalist/guitarist/leader. Under LEMONed, hide also lead another band called Zilch. Zilch was an American-based industrial heavy metal band with Hide as the lead singer and guitarist and three other established American rock musicians. Although Hide had lived in America a few times and played some small gigs, Zilch would be Hide's first really big step to break into the American music scene. But with Hide's death, that possibility is no more.

However, shortly after Hide's death, they started to release the remaining singles and videos of hide with Spread Beaver. Songs like Pink Spider and Everfree dominated the charts, selling like gangbusters for a very long time. Then a few months later with the release of the albums for hide with Spread Beaver "Ja Zoo" and the Zilch album "3.2.1." they sold even better with both albums making increadible sales. Hide was already increadibly popular and if anything, his death made him even more popular.

Now for the last year, Japanese rock fans have been in a perpetual state of Hide-mania. Everyone may have different tastes, all music fans seems to share one thing. Everybody loves Hide. To be honest, although I have been a fan of Hide for a while from his work in X Japan, I had no real knowledge of his other contributions to music. But it was only this year after he died that with all of the hype that has been surrounding him did I discover what a great artist he truly was on his own. It's just sad that he had to die for many of us to find that out. At 34 Hide had become a legend in the Japanese music world and yet it seemed that his greatest contibutions to music were yet to come. However with his senseless death, we will never know what could have been. It is partly because of this that his awesome fashion sense, his exciting guitar playing and his enigmatic personality will be missed even more. I know I miss him daily. When I listen to his songs, even a year after his death, I feel a simultaneous sense of awe and sadness. His songs are so full of life that you listen and disblieve that he's no longer with us. Maybe his spirit is still living with us in his music. I like to think so.

Notes:

- Hide died before he and Spread Beaver had enough songs to complete their first album. So for a few of the songs such as the last single "Hurry Go Round" or the songs "Fish Scratch Fever" and "Pink Cloud Assembly" were re-mixed from raw unfinished demos. I hear that with Hurry Go Round specifically member I.N.A. combined incomplete tracks from a few songs and put them together digitally to make a single song. Then hide's voice from demo recordings was added to complete the song.


Mason's Favorite Album
Psyence
(1996/9/2)

This album really opened my eyes to what Hide was capable of. Listening to this CD is like being a kid in a candy store. Such a wonderful variety of cool stuff all in one place. Amusing punk songs like Genkai Haretsu, Lassie and Hi Ho. Cool L.A. rock songs like Beauty & Stupid. Poignant rock ballads like Flame and Good Bye. Fun tracks like the title track Psyence which is an instrumental piece that perfectly emulates those theme songs of 60's spy shows and LEMONed I Scream, a weird little ditty which can't quite be explained in words. There's hard drivin' fusion metal songs like Pose and Bacteria. Typical Hide songs like Erase and Damage. And who could forget Misery which is a modern rock song with a touch of that old hair metal sound that Hide has always had a predisposition for. All of this with a really cutting-edge sound that, like his previous album, mixed a bit of old and new rock styles with many extra touches of sound sampling. With 16 tracks this album gives you a lot for your bucks. Just like everything he did, hide really liked to gave his fans value.

Mason's top 25 favorite hide songs

1. Dice (midi sample)
2. Misery
3. Beauty & Stupid (midi sample)
4. Pink Spider (midi sample)
5. Hi Ho
6. Rocket Dive (midi sample)
7. Doubt
8. Goodbye
9. Genkai Haretsu
10. Honey Blade (midi sample)
11. Space Monkey Punks From Japan
12. Pose
13. Ever Free
14. Fish Scratch Fever
15. Eyes Love You
16. Bacteria
17. D.O.D. (Drink Or Die)
18. Oblaat
19. Flame
20. Breeding
21. Hurry Go Round
22. 50% & 50%
23. Scanner
24. Leather Face
25. Tell Me

hide Links

hide with Spread Beaver (Official Site)
Ever Free - hide memorial
Kurenai - Tribute to Hide
TEAM V-S: In Memory of Hideto Matsumoto
Ever Free - Hide
Quentin's Place : Hide
[Hide] visual.pkc
A Souvenir