Eiichi Ohtaki in 1981 promoting A Long Vacation
|Birth name||Eiichi Ohtaki (大瀧 榮一)|
|Also known as|
|Born||July 28, 1948|
Esashi District, Japan
|Died||December 30, 2013 (aged 65)|
Mizuho, Tokyo, Japan
|Associated acts||Happy End|
Eiichi Ohtaki (July 28, 1948 – December 30, 2013) was a Japanese musician, songwriter and record producer. He first became known as a member of the rock band Happy End, but was better known for his solo work which began in 1972. In 2003, Ohtaki was ranked by HMV Japan at number 9 on their list of the 100 most important Japanese pop acts. Patrick Macias referred to Ohtaki as Phil Spector, Brian Wilson, George Martin and Joe Meek "synthesized into a single human being," and called his work "an encyclopedia of everything that was great about pop music in the 20th century."
Ohtaki used three different ways to spell his name in Japanese, all pronounced the same way. Born as Eiichi Ohtaki (Japanese: 大瀧 榮一, Hepburn: Ōtaki Eiichi), he used the characters 大瀧 詠一 to spell his name in songwriting credits, and 大滝 詠一 as a singer.
Ohtaki was born in Esashi District, in what is now part of Ōshū. Before joining Happy End, Ohtaki was guitarist in a group called Taboo with future Blues Creation singer Fumio Nunoya. Happy End produced three albums, Happy End (1970), Kazemachi Roman (1971) and Happy End (1973), before officially disbanding on New Year's Eve 1972. Ohtaki had already released his first self-titled solo album back in November 1972, which Macias described as probably just what Happy End fans expected; "tuneful folk-rock" and "fuzzed out country rock nuggets ala Neil Young." However, Macias noted that this is the last time Ohtaki would create music like this in his career.
He produced the rock band Sugar Babe, and continued to produce its members Taeko Onuki and Tatsuro Yamashita after the group's break up. Their only album Songs was the first release on Ohtaki's record label Niagara Records in 1975. Ohtaki's second album, Niagara Moon, followed a month later. Macias called it a record "where the artist is clearly having more fun than the listener" as it lacks truly memorable hooks and has "juxpositions [that] are often more jarring than impressive."
Ohtaki, Yamashita and brief Sugar Babe member Ginji Ito released an album titled Niagara Triangle Vol. 1 in 1976. The collaboration was cited by MTV as one of the six Japanese supergroups that changed the history of Japanese music. Later that year Ohtaki's third album Go! Go! Niagara was released. Although stating that the "kitchen sink abandon" from Niagara Moon was repeated, Macias felt that on this album the singer "hits a home run every time" by flat out recreating the beloved records of his youth, instead of simply trying to evoke them.
Macias stated that although Ohtaki had done almost everything on 1977's Niagara Calendar before; citing the "merenge [sic], wall-of-sound, Okinawan music, and odes to baseball," the difference is his increased vocal abilities deliver "another completely dazzling LP." Although he produced all and wrote several of the songs on 1978's Let's Ondo Again, Ohtaki only sang a handful of them. The album is credited to "Niagara Fallin' Stars" and features various other singers such as Rats & Star and Masayuki Suzuki. Peter Barakan noted that the songs parody Western music and called the album a masterpiece.
Ohtaki's 1981 solo album A Long Vacation is particularly well-known and highly acclaimed. It was one of the first albums to be issued on CD, was named "Best Album" at the 23rd Japan Record Awards, certified double platinum by the RIAJ and has been re-released in 20th anniversary and 30th anniversary editions. In 2007, it was named the 7th greatest Japanese rock album of all time by Rolling Stone Japan.
Following his 1984 album Each Time and its 1985 single "Fjord Girl" (フィヨルドの少女), Ohtaki largely retired from activities as a solo artist. Instead he focused on composing for and producing other acts. In 1997, he released the single "Shiawase na Ketsumatsu" (幸せな結末), which was used as the theme song for the TV drama Love Generation and sold over a million copies. The single "Koisuru Futari" (恋するふたり) was released in 2003 and used as the theme song for Tokyo Love Cinema.
After choking on an apple and collapsing in his Mizuho, Tokyo home at 5 p.m. on December 30, 2013, Ohtaki was rushed to a hospital but died shortly afterwards. His official cause of death was a dissecting aneurysm.
Ohtaki was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 56th Japan Record Awards in 2014. In March 2016, an album of previously unreleased material titled Debut Again was released posthumously. Referred to as his first album in 32 years, it features Ohtaki singing songs that he composed but which were originally released by other artists.
- Studio albums
- Eiichi Ohtaki (大瀧詠一, 1972)
- Niagara Moon (1975)
- Go! Go! Niagara (1976)
- Niagara Calendar (1977)
- Let's Ondo Again (1978) credited to "Niagara Fallin' Stars"
- A Long Vacation (1981)
- Each Time (1984)
- Debut Again (2016)
- Niagara Triangle albums
- Niagara Triangle Vol. 1 (1976) with Tatsuro Yamashita and Ginji Ito
- Niagara Triangle Vol. 2 (1982) with Motoharu Sano and Masamichi Sugi
- "City pop revival is literally a trend in name only". The Japan Times. July 5, 2015. Retrieved January 9, 2016.
- "Top 100 Japanese pops Artists - No.9". HMV Japan (in Japanese). November 22, 2003. Retrieved January 13, 2016.
- "Music Review: Eiichi Ohtaki Discography". Japattack.com. Archived from the original on May 30, 2006. Retrieved January 6, 2019.
- "大滝さん 提供楽曲は軒並みヒット「風立ちぬ」「冬のリヴィエラ」「熱き心に」". Sponichi (in Japanese). December 31, 2013. Retrieved May 13, 2016.
- "Blues Creation". Japrocksampler. Retrieved August 14, 2014.
- "Happy End's Eiichi Ohtaki Dies at 65". Exclaim!. December 31, 2013. Retrieved January 6, 2016.
- "6 Japanese Super Groups That are Changing J-music History". MTV81. March 16, 2016. Archived from the original on April 25, 2016. Retrieved April 16, 2016.
- "Interview: Peter Barakan". Time Out. October 16, 2015. Retrieved January 6, 2019.
- "大瀧詠一さん、ＣＤアルバム１６年ぶりチャートイン". Sponichi (in Japanese). January 15, 2014. Retrieved April 16, 2016.
- "第２３回 日本レコード大賞". Japan Record Awards (in Japanese). Retrieved January 6, 2016.
- "Finally! "The 100 Greatest Japanese Rock Albums of All Time" Listed". Exclaim!. November 14, 2007. Archived from the original on September 28, 2012. Retrieved August 18, 2012.
- "NIAGARA TRIANGLE Vol.2 Anniversary Edition". CD Japan. Retrieved January 9, 2017.
- "大滝詠一さんが急死、65歳 解離性動脈瘤で ドラマ主題歌「幸せな結末」がミリオンセラー". The Huffington Post (in Japanese). December 31, 2013. Retrieved January 10, 2017.
- "大滝詠一さん急死 リンゴのどに詰まらせ(tr: Otaki Eiichi's Sudden Death, Chokes on Apple)". Nikkan Sports (in Japanese). December 31, 2013.
- "ミュージシャンの大滝詠一さんが死去 (tr: Otaki Eiichi's musicians death)". NHK (in Japanese). December 31, 2013. Archived from the original on January 1, 2014.
- "Singer-songwriter Eiichi Ohtaki dies after collapsing at home". Japan Today. December 31, 2013. Retrieved January 3, 2014.
- "2nd Chibi Maruko-chan Theme Song's Composer Eiichi Ōhtaki Passes Away". Anime News Network. January 3, 2014. Retrieved January 3, 2020.
- "大滝詠一、貴重なナイアガラ音源満載の12枚組BOX全楽曲を発表". Natalie (in Japanese). December 12, 2014. Retrieved January 6, 2016.
- "大滝詠一さん"新作"ジャケ写公開 38年ぶり本人写真使用". Oricon (in Japanese). February 17, 2016. Retrieved January 9, 2017.