Bow Wow (band)

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Not to be confused with Bow Wow Wow or Bow Wow (rapper).
Bow Wow
Also known as Vow Wow, Bowwow
Origin Japan
Genres Hard rock, heavy metal
Years active 1976 (1976)–1983, 1995–present (as Bow Wow)
1984 (1984)–1990, (reunions 2009, 2010) (as Vow Wow)
Labels Victor, Sony Music,
Toshiba EMI, Arista (US), Rockcandy (US), Heavy Metal (EU), Roadrunner (EU)
Associated acts Wild Flag, Noiz, Whitesnake
Website Official site
Members Kyoji Yamamoto
Mitsuhiro Saito
Toshihiro Niimi
Past members Kenji Sano
Genki Hitomi
Rei Atsumi
Neil Murray
Mark Gould
Tetsuya Horie
Hiroshi Yaegashi
Shotaro Mitsuzono
Eiji Mitsuzono

Bow Wow is an influential hard rock/heavy metal band formed in Japan in 1975. They renamed themselves to Vow Wow in 1984, before moving to England in 1987 and disbanding in 1990. Guitarist and vocalist Kyoji Yamamoto reformed Bow Wow in 1995 with all new members, before original members Mitsuhiro Saito and Toshihiro Niimi rejoined him three years later.

In Japan their best-selling album is 1990's Mountain Top which reached number 16 on the Oricon chart, and also featured the band's best-selling single "Tell Me". Internationally their best-selling album is Helter Skelter, which reached number 75 on the UK Albums Chart.[1]


1975–1983: Bow Wow[edit]

Bow Wow was formed in 1975 by Yoshimi Ueno, an inexperienced music producer who recruited vocalist and guitarist Mitsuhiro Saito and drummer Toshihiro Niimi, whom he had managed before. Guitarist Kyoji Yamamoto and bassist Kenji Sano were scouted from Yamaha Music School and Bow Wow was officially formed. They soon signed to Victor and released their self-titled debut a year later.[2] In 1977 they opened for Aerosmith and Kiss on their Japanese tours and released two more albums.[2] Their next few records were criticized by critics and fans as being musically all over the place, veering from their hard rock roots, and suffering from poor production values.[3]

However seeing talent in the band, production would soon be overseen by Touru Yazawa who had produced Alice, a renowned folk rock group in Japan. Their first release with the new producer was the album Hard Dog in 1981, which set the pace for the band's future as a respectable hard rock act. In 1982 Bow Wow performed at the Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland and later the Reading Festival in England.[2] They also released Warning from Stardust, which Daisuke Kawasaki, writing for Rolling Stone Japan, rated No. 23 on a 2007 list of the "100 Greatest Japanese Rock Albums of All Time".[4] The following year they toured with Hanoi Rocks across the UK and performed their final concert at Nakano Sun Plaza. Guitarist Mitsuhiro Saito left in November 1983 to join ARB.

1984–1990: Vow Wow[edit]

In 1984, the remaining three members were joined by vocalist Genki Hitomi and keyboardist Rei Atsumi, this resulted in a more commercial sound and the band decided a name change was necessary.[5] Now called Vow Wow, the band relocated to England in 1987 and were without a bassist for a short-time, as Kenji Sano stayed in Japan. Former Whitesnake bassist Neil Murray was recruited to fill the spot after he and Yamamoto worked on the second album from Phenomena, although Murray later stated he never became a full member.[6] They then began recording the album V with producer Kit Woolven (Thin Lizzy, David Bowie) and co-produced with John Wetton who wrote the lyrics for the album's hit single "Don't Leave Me Now". They were asked by Tommy Vance to create the jingles for his British radio program, the Friday Rock Show.[6] After another album, they recorded the classic hard rock anthem "Rock Me Now" and returned to Japan for a national tour. Although experiencing commercial success, Genki wanted to remain in Japan to begin a family. The band recorded what was to be their final album titled Helter Skelter in 1989, which was handled by Tony Taverner (Gipsy Kings, Black Sabbath). After the album Rei joined RC Succession for a live tour and Neil became a member of Black Sabbath.

Shortly after, producers Nick Griffiths (Queen, Paul McCartney) and Bob Ezrin (Kiss, Pink Floyd) requested to create an album with Vow Wow. The band regrouped without Neil who was recording with Black Sabbath, and utilized American studio bassist Mark Gould for their final album, Mountain Top. Vow Wow disbanded after a May 28, 1990 concert at the Nippon Budokan. Genki became a high school English teacher, while the other members each continued separate musical careers, Kyoji forming the band Wild Flag in 1991.

1995–present: Bow Wow revival and Vow Wow reunion concerts[edit]

In May 1995, Kyoji reformed Bow Wow with all new members.[5] They had several releases until dissolving in March 1997. However, in 1998 original members Mitsuhiro Saito and Toshihiro Niimi rejoined Kyoji, and Bow Wow became a trio. In August 2003 they performed in Daegu, South Korea at the O.K.! Crazy!! World Rock Festival. They returned the following year when their next album got a Korean release.

Genki Hitomi and Rei Atsumi reunited with Kyoji and Toshihiro for a Vow Wow reunion concert on December 25, 2009, and for two shows the following year on December 25 and 26, 2010.


Bow Wow[edit]

Current members
Former members
  • Kenji Sano (佐野賢二) – bass (1975–1983)
  • Tetsuya Horie (堀江哲也) – lead vocals (1995–1997)
  • Hiroshi Yaegashi (八重樫浩士)rhythm guitar (1995–1997)
  • Shotaro Mitsuzono (満園庄太郎) – bass (1995–1997)
  • Eiji Mitsuzono (満園英二) – drums (1995–1997)

Vow Wow[edit]

  • Genki Hitomi (人見元基) – lead vocals (1984–1990, 2009, 2010)
  • Kyoji Yamamoto – guitar, backing vocals (1984–1990, 2009, 2010)
  • Toshihiro Niimi – drums (1984–1990, 2009, 2010)
  • Rei Atsumi (厚見玲衣)keyboards (1984–1990, 2009, 2010)
  • Mark Gould – bass (1990)
Former members
  • Kenji Sano – bass (1984–1987)
  • Neil Murray – bass (1987–1990)


As Bow Wow[edit]

Studio albums
  • Bow Wow (1976)
  • Signal Fire (1977)
  • Charge (1977)
  • Guarantee (1978)
  • Glorious Road (1980)
  • Telephone (1980)
  • Hard Dog (1981)
  • Asian Volcano (1982)
  • Warning from Stardust (1982)
  • Bow Wow # 1 (1995)
  • Led by the Sun (1996)
  • Beyond (2000)
  • Another Place (2001)
  • What's Going On? (2002)
  • Era (2005)
  • Bow Wow No. 0 (1995)
  • Still on Fire (1998)
  • "Volume On" (1976)
  • "Still" (1977)
  • "Sabishii Yuugi (1978)
  • "Hoshii no wa Omae Dake" (1979)
  • "Wasurekaketeta Love Song " (1980)
  • "Rainy Train" (1980)
  • "Keep on Rockin'" (1980)
  • "Soldier in the Space" (1980)
  • "Gonna be Alright" (1981)
  • "Take Me Away" (1982)
  • "Forever" (1983)
  • "You're Mine" (1983)
  • "One Last Time" (2002)
  • "King or Queen" (2014)
Live albums
  • Super Live (1978)
  • Holy Expedition (1983)
  • Live Explosion 1999 (1999)
  • Super Live 2004 (2005)
  • The Bow Wow (1979)
  • Locus 1976-1983 (1986)
  • Back (1998)
  • Ancient Dreams (1999)
  • The Bow Wow II Decennium (2008)
  • XXXV (2011)
  • Kumikyoku X Bomber (組曲Xボンバー) (1980, for the TV series X-Bomber)

As Vow Wow[edit]

Studio albums
  • Beat of Metal Motion (1984)
  • Cyclone (1985), Oricon Albums Chart Peak Position: No. 300[7]
  • III (1986) No. 275[7]
  • V (1987)
  • Vibe (Helter Skelter[8][9] in the United Kingdom) (1988), Japan Album Chart Peak Position: No. 19[7] / UK Albums Chart Peak Position: No. 75[1]
  • Mountain Top (1990) No. 16[7]
  • Don't Leave Me Now (1987)
  • Revive (1987)
  • Rock Me Now (1988)
  • I Feel the Power (1989)
  • "Beat of Metal Motion" (1984)
  • "U.S.A." (1985)
  • "Don't Leave Me Now" (1987)
  • "Rock Me Now" (1988)
  • "Cry No More" (1988)
  • "Don't Tell Me Lies" (1988)
  • "Helter Skelter" (1989)
  • "I Feel the Power" (1989)
  • "Tell Me" (1990), Oricon Singles Chart Peak Position: No. 23[10]
Live albums
  • Hard Rock Night (1986)
  • Vow Wow Live (1986)
  • Majestic Night (1989)
  • Shockwaves (1986)
  • Vow Wow (1988)
  • Legacy (1990) No. 60[7]
  • Best Now (1992)
  • Twin Best (1996)
  • Super Best ~Rock Me Forever~ (2006) No. 286[7]
  • The Vox (2007, 8CD+DVD)


As Bow Wow[edit]

  • The Live Empire (2003)
  • Live Explosion 1999 (2003)
  • 2003.3.22 Live (2003)
  • Rock to the Future 2002 Bow Wow vs XYZ→A (2003)
  • Super Live 2004 (2005)
  • Super Live 2005 (2006)
  • Super Live 2006 (2007)
  • Super Live 2007 (2008)
  • Super Live 2009 (2010)
  • Super Live 2011 (2012)

As Vow Wow[edit]

  • Visions (1985, VHS), Oricon DVDs Chart Peak Position: No. 116[11]
  • Live (1986, VHS) No. 75[11]
  • Live in the U.K. (1989, VHS) No. 80[11]
  • Japan Live 1990 at Budokan (1990, VHS) No. 88[11]

Every VHS was re-released on DVD on June 14, 2006.


  1. ^ a b "VOW WOW". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 2012-10-13. 
  2. ^ a b c "Kyoji Yamamoto leaves all inhibitions behind". The Japan Times. 2009-04-18. Retrieved 2011-09-14. 
  3. ^ "Hard Dog - Bow Wow". AllMusic. Retrieved 2012-10-31. 
  4. ^ "Finally! "The 100 Greatest Japanese Rock Albums of All Time" Listed". Exclaim!. Retrieved 2012-04-07. 
  5. ^ a b "BOWWOW Frontman Kyoji Yamamoto". 2010-12-10. Retrieved 2011-09-14. 
  6. ^ a b "Remembering The Original Japanese Rock Invasion". Metal Hammer. Retrieved 2015-01-26. 
  7. ^ a b c d e f BOW WOWのアルバム売り上げランキング. Oricon Retrieved 2011-12-11.
  8. ^ Vibe
  9. ^ Helter Skelter
  10. ^ BOW WOWのシングル売り上げランキング. Oricon Retrieved 2011-12-11.
  11. ^ a b c d BOW WOWのDVD売り上げランキング. Oricon Retrieved 2011-12-11.

External links[edit]