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The Spiders were regarded as the Godfathers of the Group Sounds Scene, having successfully crossed over from the Eleki Scene, where they started in 1961.
Masaaki Sakai – vocals, flute
Jun Inoue - vocals
Hiroshi ‘Monsieur’ Kamayatsu – guitar, vocals
Takayuki Inoue – guitar
Katsuo Ohno – keyboards, steel guitar
Mitsuru Kato – bass
Shochi Tanabe – drums
Although known as the first of the Group Sounds acts, The Spiders were actually formed in 1961, by drummer Shochi Tanabe, as a backing band for foreign singers such as Peter & Gordon. Mostly playing Country & Western songs in their early days, it was only in 1964, with the addition of young singer Jun Inoue, that The Spiders began to take the shape that they are best known for – that is: overblown scat singing, big band arrangements and jazzy drumming. Although by this time a septet containing two guitarists, two vocalists and an organist, The Spiders nevertheless made much of their money from recording surf instrumentals such as The Ventures’ ‘Wipe Out’. Gradually, however, The Spiders incorporated the sounds and styles of The Animals, Beatles, Kinks and Rolling Stones into their act, adopting the British beats’ love of matching suits and playing support on major first tours by The Beach Boys, The Ventures, The Animals and The Astronauts. However, in July 1966, they turned down the support slot for The Beatles, unsure how they would be received. The Spiders’ first LP ALBUM No. 1 was released in ’66, and contained no cover versions, whilst later the same year, ALBUM no. 2 contained no originals. The following year’s ALBUM NO. 3 continued their trend for recording cover versions, and included version’s of The Troggs’ ‘I Can’t Control Myself’ and ‘With A Girl Like You’, The Animals’ ‘Inside Looking Out’, The Four Tops’ ‘Reach Out, I’ll Be There’, Wilson Pickett’s ‘Land Of A 1000 Dances’, and an insane rendering of John Lee Hooker’s ‘Boom Boom’. However, these were combined with such typically full-on originals as ‘Chibi No Julie’, ‘Narebaii (Upside down)’ and the single ‘Nanntonaku Nantonaku’. Spurred on by the success of The Beatles’ movies A HARD DAY’S NIGHT and HELP!, The Spiders spent the rest of ’67 making their first feature film. Indeed, The Spiders eventually made four of their own movies: 1967’s WILD SCHEME-A-GO-GO, and 1968’s GO FORWARD, THE ROAD TO BALI and BIG COMMOTION. In typical whacky Monkees/Beatles style, the seven band members were filmed charging around pursued by persons unknown, spy movie-style, as hordes of fans mobbed them and gaggles of models snubbed them. By 1969, however, The Spiders’ Group Sounds careers were over. Although nothing further was heard from bass player Mitsuro Kato, everyone else had some success. Singer Jun Inoue went on to be a solo performer and comedian, founding member and drummer Shochi Tanabe started the massively successful Tanabe Management Agency, guitarist Takayuki Inoue and keyboard player Katsuo Ohno both joined Kenji ‘Julie’ Sawada’s short-lived supergroup Pyg, the former thereafter launching a successful career in music for film and TV, whilst guitarist Hiroshi Kamayatsu joined the superstar Glam Rock act Vodka Collins. Last but by no means least, vocalist/flautist Masaaki Sakai achieved immortality when he won the title role in the legendary TV show ‘Monkey’.