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The Tempters

The Tempters managed to straddle the credibility divide between real pop music and the pap peddled by The Jaguars and The Tigers
Keizo ‘Kennichi’ Hagiwara – vocals, harmonica
Yoshiharu Matsuzaki – lead guitar
Toshio Tanaka – rhythm guitar, organ
Takaku Noburo – bass
Hiroshi Oguchi –drums

The origins of The Tempters began in 1965, in the Omiya suburb of Saitama, where high school friends Toshio Tanaka and Takaku Noburo learned to play guitar and bass respectively. Drafting in lead guitarist Yoshiharu Matsuzaki from a nearby high school, they played Ventures instrumentals at local clubs, that is until they heard 15-year-old Kennichi Hagiwara hammering out his version of Barrett Strong’s soul stomp ‘Money’ at the local Okura Club. From here on in, the band orientated itself towards a Rolling Stones/Them-type of sound and spent 1966 perfecting their act. As big fans of The Spiders, the band was happy to be asked to sign to The Spiders’ management company Spiduction, and October ’67 saw the release of the debut Tempters 45 ‘Wasureenu Kimi’ backed with a Japanese cover of The Grass Roots’ single ‘Let’s Live For Today’, renamed ‘Kyo Wo Ikiyo’. The Tempters’ second single was the storming smash hit ‘Kamisama Onegai’, which charted at number 2 and was written by their lead guitarist Yoshiharu Matsuzaki. The band was therefore deeply miffed when their management got an outside writer in to write a ballad for the group, but ‘Emerald No Densetsu’ was another monster and reached the top of the Japanese charts, ensuring that the debut LP THE TEMPTERS’ FIRST ALBUM was also a big success. The album, on the front of which they dressed as Spanish gauchos, contained all four sides of their first two 45s, plus versions of The Rolling Stones’ ‘Lady Jane’, Howlin’ Wolf’ ‘Boom Boom’, The Monkees’ ‘Valleri’ and their own arrangement of George Gershwin’s ‘Summertime’, plus several others. Unfortunately, due to further management interference, another sop to the parents was released in the form of the cheesy ballad ‘Okaasan (My Mom)’, but Yoshiharu Matsuzaki was determined to write the majority of the second Tempters LP, and the band titled the LP 5-1=0, as a statement of their unity. In March 1969, the band appeared in the movie NAMIDA NO ATONI HOHOE, which continued to build their reputation. The band’s third LP TEMPTERS ON STAGE was a live album designed to showcase their fiery live act, and a three-song Rolling Stones medley was included alongside versions of their chart hits. However, a schism developed within the band when the management insisted on using studio musicians for the fourth LP, and concentrating on the talents of vocalist Kennichi Hagiwara. Worse still, the album was poorly received and The Tempters called it a day. Along with members of The Spiders and The Tigers, drummer Hiroshi Oguchi joined the short-lived supergroup Pyg, before taking off on his own in 1972, to form the glamrock-styled Vodka Collins with Japanese-based American singer-songwriter Alan Merrill. Singer Kennichi Hagiwara later became a moderately successful actor.

Julian Cope
  • THE TEMPTERS FIRST ALBUM (Philips, 1968)
  • 5-1-0 (Philips, 1969)
  • TEMPTERS ON STAGE (Philips, 1970)

  • The Tempters managed to straddle the credibility divide between real pop music and the pap peddled by The Jaguars and The Tigers
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