Julian Cope presents JAPROCKSAMPLER.COM
Kuni Kawachi– piano, organ, lyrics, arrangements
Tome Kitagawa – vocals, conga
Pepe Yoshihiro – bass
Chito Kawachi – drums, lyrics, arrangements, vocals
The history of Happenings Four is an important one, despite their musical contributions to the Group Sounds scene being mainly disappointing and trite. For they were one of the few bands with the guts to try to break the GS mould and bring something new on board. They began in 1964 as a quintet named Sunrise, and were led by brothers Kuni and Chito Kawachi, on organ and percussion respectively. Playing a Latin based rock, Sunrise was completed by bassist Pepe Yoshihiro, percussionist Pedoro Umemura and guitarist Hiroshi Satomi. In 1966, Miki Curtis discovered them and took them to Tokyo, where they signed to the mighty management team Asuka Puro. Vocalist and conga player Tome Kitegawa joined at this time, and they were booked into night clubs and cabaret to develop their act. In 1967, when guitarist Hiroshi left to form Hiroshi Satomi & Ichibanboshi (‘The First Star’), the Kawachi brothers decided to sack percussionist Umemura and changed their name to Happenings Four. Signing to the Watanabe Pro management team, they gained immediate interest because of their novel guitarless line-up. Their debut single was okay, but gained press attention because of its incredible sleeve design, by legendary pop artist Tadanori Yokoo.
In 1968, the second single ‘Kimi No Hitomi O Mitsumete (Looking Into Your Eyes)’ fared better, as did a third ‘Alligator Boogaloo’. Inspired by Miki Curtis’ tendency to ham it up, Happening Four successfully played up to the Japanese cliché with hair in top knots, and kimonos, releasing their debut LP THE MAGICAL HAPPENINGS TOUR in a gorgeous fold out jacket, depicting the members on an 10,000 yen note. In early 1969, Kuna Kawachi offered up his own version of the sounds coming from Britain’s The Nice and Soft Machine with the second album CLASSICAL ELEGANCE : BAROQUE’N’ROLL. This LP contained heavy versions of Beatles and Simon & Garfunkel songs in a sleeve of imaginary bucolic bliss, in which a pink clad and moustachioed Jason King-styled shepherd groover rests upon the roots of ye olde oak tree as his flock of sheep graze quietly in the Bach-ground. Later in ’69, Kawauchi enlisted Nobuhiko Shinohara on keyboards and vocals to boost the prog credentials of the oputfit, who now altered their name to Happenings Four +1. The band split in 1972, whereupon Kawachi recorded commercials, and contributed to the Love Live Life +1 project, as well as recording his classic LP KIRIKYOGEN with members of Flower Travellin’ band.
Magical Happenings Tour
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