The Spiders

Formed Tokyo, Japan… 1961, although at this time they were a C&W-orientated group led by a female singer. A subsequent change of direction from “eleki”/instrumental style and personnel in the mid-60s, saw The SPIDERS (now Jun Inoue, Masaaki Sakai, Hiroshi “Monsieur” Kamayatsu, Takayuki Inoue, Katsuo Ohno, Mitsuru Kato and Shochi Tanabe) hit their homeland charts with both singles and LPs.
The Japanese equivalent of the Fab Four (after The BEATLES’ arrival at the Budokan in 1966), this mod/garage-beat outfit had seven members. The SPIDERS were considered the best of the “Group Sounds” (GS) outfits, a term used instead of “rock’n’roll”, apparently because fans of the genre could not pronounce their R’s.
Unfortunately, their brand of copycat pigeon-English R&B (think The ANIMALS, YARDBIRDS and the aforesaid BEATLES) didn’t go down too well Stateside, though the septet issued a rare – and pricy! – single in the UK, `Sad Sunset’ (b/w `Hey Boy’), promoting it on British pop show, Ready Steady Go, in 1966; a plethora of picture-sleeve 45s hit pay-dirt periodically in Japan.
The SPIDERS several LPs in their heyday, ALBUM NO.1 (1966) {*5}, ALBUM NO.2 (1966) {*3}, ALBUM NO.3 (1967) {*3}, ALBUM NO.4 (1967) {*4} – the latter the soundtrack to “Dai-Shingki” – and so on, and so on, not really rocking anybody’s boat ‘cept for connoisseurs of cult music and home supporters unaware of the bona fide Brit Invasion bands across the seas.
Their debut film, `Wild Scheme A-Go-Go’ (1967), saw The SPIDERS arrive at Tokyo airport to overwhelming audience reaction. This led to a media barrage, a press conference and ultimately – spliced between the odd “Help!”-style camera work – a concert, where the beat group performed several numbers alongside go-go dancers.
`Go Forward!!’ (1968) was also Richard Lester/”Help!”-inspired; goofy, psychedelic and basically a lot of nonsense, if you’re say… not Japanese. `Big Commotion!’ (1968) was another in a similar loopy vein, the multi-legged ones breaking free from screaming fans and landing themselves in a psychedelic hospital. `The Road To Bali’ (1968) ended a busy year with a MONKEES/”Head”-orientated movie that took them everywhere from Hong Kong to Sydney.
The group disbanded in 1971, although Takayuki and Katsuo (with various other musicians) subsequently resurfaced in the band PYG; the former wrote for TV and film; Hiroshi helped form glam act VODKA COLLINS; Sakai became a bona fide actor, starring in Saiyuki (lit. Journey To The West), a TV series that was dubbed into English for the BBC and re-titled “Monkey”. He was to form Sans Filtre, in 1999, alongside Hiroshi and subsequent solo artist Takayuki (debut set: `Yei Yei’ in 2000). Hiroshi died of pancreatic cancer on 1st March 2017.
© MC Strong 2008/LCS // rev-up MCS Mar2017

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