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The Jaguars

Sin Okamoto - vocals
Hisayuki Okitu - lead guitar
Koichi Miyazaki - rhythm guitar
Yasuji Sato - organ
Mikio Morida – bass
Yukio Miya – drums

Led by drummer and founding member Yukio Miya, The Jaguars were one of the most famous of all the Group Sounds bands, taking their lead

Also of immense importance to the fashioning of the early Group Sounds scene was the six-piece known as The Jaguars, led by drummer Yukio Miya. The Jaguars, or ‘jaggerz’ as the Japanese referred to them, straddled the void between pure pop music and garage rock, turning out versions of The Blues Magoos’ arrangement of ‘Tobacco Road’ and Mitch Ryder’s ‘See See Rider’, but taking their shorter-haired image from those overly smiley British muckers Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich. Indeed, The Jaguars recorded their own version of that band’s 45 ‘Zabadak’ and scored another Top 20 hit with Dave Dee’s cod-Spaghetti Western epic ‘Legend of Xanadu’, transplanted into a Greek context with balalaikas and the whole band done out as Greek peasant fashion victims.

More credibly, The Jaguars covered The Blues Magoos’ thunderous version of J.D. Loudermilk’s ‘Tobacco Road’, as well as Mitch Ryder’s soul epic ‘See See Rider’. Some evidence of the band’s popularity is shown by their appearance, in 1968, as stars of their own movie. This HELP-influenced comedy romp was entitled JAGUARS TEKIZEN JYOURIKU (HEY YOU, GO!), and made The Jaguars even bigger stars. Footage of Buddhist monks passing through immigration were superimposed over shots of The Jaguars playing to fans high atop a balcony; lead guitarist Hisayuki Okitu was filmed playing guitar surrounded by young women sucking ice lollies; psychedelic prism FX clouded the screen as a Dr Evil-type character made people disappear, and the many direct lifts from the HELP movie only reinforced the cultural position of The Jaguars. However, with the rising confidence of the other group members, leader Yukio Miya felt his position of power slipping, and promptly left for a career with the originally titled New Jaguars. The decision was ultimately disastrous for all. Miya was replaced on drums by Takeshi Hamano, but neither of the two factions were ever so successful again as The Jaguars had once been. The original members attempted a change of musical direction, even replacing members, while Miya’s New Jaguars failed to chart and split up in 1970. The original faction struggled on until their dissolution in 1971.

Julian Cope
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