||This article may be expanded with text translated from the corresponding article in the Japanese Wikipedia. (September 2014)|
|Also known as||Julie|
June 25, 1948 |
Tsunoi, Iwami (present: Tsunoi, Tottori), Tottori Prefecture, Japan
|Origin||Sakyo-ku, Kyoto, Japan|
|Genres||Rock, pop, glam rock, adult contemporary|
|Occupation(s)||Singer, composer, lyricist, actor|
|Labels||Polydor Japan, Toshiba EMI/Eastworld, Julie Label|
Kenji Sawada (沢田 研二 Sawada Kenji?, born June 25, 1948; real surname written as 澤田) is a Japanese singer, composer, lyricist and actor, best known for being the vocalist for the Japanese rock band The Tigers. Nicknamed "Julie" (ジュリー Jurī?) because of his self professed adoration of Julie Andrews, he was born in Tsunoi, Iwami (now part of Tottori), Tottori Prefecture, Japan, and raised in Sakyo-ku, Kyoto at age 3. He is married to Oshin star Yūko Tanaka, whom he met on the set of Tora-san, the Expert.
As a singer (often he also worked as a songwriter) and actor, Sawada prospered greatly on Japanese popular culture in the last three decades of the Showa era. At the end of the 1960s, he had great success as the lead singer of the band The Tigers. After the breakup of The Tigers and another project PYG, he began his own solo career.
Sawada was the lead singer of the best-known J-pop music act of the late 1960s Group Sounds era band The Tigers. A national teen idol, his nickname is Julie. Japanese pop stars of that era often adopted nicknames, particularly often English-language girls' names. His nickname is derived from the actress Julie Andrews as he is a fan of hers. The group was signed by Watanabe Productions.
In 1968, Barry Gibb of the Bee Gees was commissioned to compose two songs for the band in an attempt at international success. One of the songs was a hit in Japan, titled "Smile for Me" and sung by Sawada. In spite of his clear English pronunciation, the record did not make the pop charts in foreign markets as the Watanabe Productions management team had hoped. The band disbanded shortly after its release.
In 1970, after The Tigers broke up, Sawada formed the supergroup, PYG. Kenichi Hagiwara, Sawada's main rival in the Group Sounds era, was a co-lead vocalist. When PYG disbanded, Sawada went solo, but acting was to be his main form of artistic expression after that. Sawada started to wear trendy clothes and make-up in the 1970s, and became regarded as an influential fashion innovator.
Sawada's best-known roles include playing in Paul Schrader's biopic movie about Yukio Mishima, Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters and playing in Takashi Miike's horror-comedy musical The Happiness of the Katakuris.
- Honô no shôzô (1974)
- Que C'est Triste Paris (1976)
- Taiyō o Nusunda Otoko (1979)
- Samurai Reincarnation (1981)
- Capone Cries a Lot (1985)
- Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters (1985)
- Hiruko the Goblin (1990)
- Yumeji (1991)
- Osaka Story (1999)
- Pistol Opera (2001)
- The Happiness of the Katakuris (2002)
- Rolling Stone (No. 28, March 1969) "Japanese Rock: Kenji Julie Sawada of Julie and the Tigers"