Flower Travellin' Band
|Flower Travellin' Band|
Flower Travellin' Band performing in New York City in 2008.
|Also known as||
They were connected to Japan's counterculture movement and noted for their mixture of early heavy metal with psychedelic and progressive rock. They received wide acclaim from critics but failed to achieve commercial success and separated in 1973 to pursue individual careers. The band reunited in late 2007 when hippie influences became popular again in Japanese fashion, music and cinema; it was permanently disbanded after the 2011 death of vocalist Joe Yamanaka.
While the band's releases have never sold well they continue to be held in high regard by the music industry. Their albums have never been out of print and they continue to be made available on new audiophile formats such as SHM-CDs. The former members of the Flower Travellin' Band continue to perform FTB songs live together under the name Flower Power with other musicians.
The band was initially started as a side-project by Yuya Uchida when he returned to Japan after visiting his friend John Lennon in England in the mid 1960s, where he was introduced to various upcoming artists such as Cream and Jimi Hendrix. Yuya wanted to introduce a similar sound to the Japanese, and formed the "Flowers" as a cover band with various group sounds musicians, and two vocalists; male singer Chiba Hiroshi and female singer Remi Aso. They released the album Challenge! in 1968, featuring covers of songs by Jimi Hendrix, Cream, Jefferson Airplane and Big Brother and the Holding Company, in addition to an original song. The cover caused a stir in the Japanese media as it depicted each member posing naked.
In 1969, after the release of the album; Remi Aso and guitarist Katsuhiko Kobayashi relocated to the United States. Yuya dropped all the remaining members, except drummer George Wada, recruited guitarist Hideki Ishima and vocalist Joe Yamanaka from the blues group Mystic Morning and bassist Jun Kobayashi, and formed the Flower Travellin' Band as a band that would appeal to international audiences. Hideki Ishima was the band's lead guitarist, and wrote almost every one of the band's songs. Their first releases were backing jazz trumpeter Terumasa Hino on the single "Crash" followed by the mini-album Anywhere in 1970, made to emulate the Flowers' release by means of cover songs and a nude cover.
At Expo '70, Canadian rock band Lighthouse saw Flower Travellin' Band perform, liked what they saw and suggested they go to Canada. Sensing the chance for international popularity, the group quickly recorded their first album of original material, Satori released in 1971, to have something to bring with them. In December 1970, they relocated to Toronto where they performed with artists such as Dr. John and Emerson, Lake & Palmer. While there they recorded their second original album Made in Japan and were approached by GRT Records.
They returned to Japan in March 1972 for a show at the Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium, and in 1973 were billed to perform with the Rolling Stones throughout their Japanese tour, however all concerts were canceled when Mick Jagger's visa was rejected due to a drug conviction. They released a half-studio, half-live album titled Make Up and in April performed at Maruyama Park in Kyoto.
It would be their last concert, as at this time Yuya became involved in numerous projects and the band went on a long hiatus, with each member going onto individual careers. Joe Yamanaka recorded numerous solo albums, and collaborated with the iconic reggae band The Wailers in the 1980s. Having quit the guitar in 1990, Hideki Ishima continued his studies of the sitar, which he began around 1968, under Indian classical musician Manilal Nag and his Japanese apprentice in 1998. In 2000, he invented the sitarla, which combines the qualities of a solid-body electric guitar and the sitar.
On November 25, 2007, Flower Travellin' Band officially reunited and formally recruited keyboardist Nobuhiko Shinohara, who had previously worked with the group. Ishima revealed that there were several talks about getting back together prior, but they were all centered around nostalgia, something he has no interest in. It was only when their producer suggested they write new material and play it together with the old songs for a three-year period that a reunion came to fruition. Ishima also said that even though Kobayashi and Kozuki had not played in years, they were eager and pushed him into doing it, helped by the fact that his new instrument made the old material interesting. In 2008, 35 years after their last, they released the album We Are Here. They performed in New York City in November and in Canada the following month. In March 2010, future tours and productions were halted when it was announced that Joe was diagnosed with lung cancer. Joe died from his cancer on August 7, 2011 at the age of 64.
- Hideki Ishima (石間秀樹?) – sitarla, guitar, sitar
- Jun Kobayashi (小林ジュン?), formerly Jun Kozuki (上月ジュン?) – bass
- Joji "George" Wada (和田ジョージ?) – drums
- Nobuhiko Shinohara (篠原信彦?) – keyboards
- Hiroshi Chiba (千葉ひろし?) – vocals
- Remi Aso (麻生レミ?) – vocals, guitar
- Kento Nakamura (中村健人?) – vocals
- Katsuhiko Kobayashi (小林勝彦?) – steel guitar
- Ken Hashimoto (橋本健?) – bass
- Yuya Uchida (内田 裕也?) – backing vocals, percussion, producer
- Joe Yamanaka (ジョー山中?) – vocals, harmonica
as Yuya Uchida and the Flowers
- Challenge! (1969)
- "Last Chance" b/w "Flower Boy" (1969) – Single.
- "Flower Boy" b/w "Last Chance" (1969) – Single.
- "Fantastic Girl" b/w "Yogiri no Trumpet" (1969) – Single.
as Flower Travellin' Band
- "Crash" b/w "Dhoop" (1970) – Single recorded with trumpeter Terumasa Hino, and the first recording credited to Flower Travellin' Band.
- Anywhere (1970) – Debut album.
- Kirikyogen (1970) – With Kuni Kawachi.
- "Map" b/w "Machine Gun Kelly" (1971) – Split single with Jo Mama.
- Satori (1971) – First original studio album.
- "Satori Pt. 1" (1971) – Canada only single.
- Satori (1971) – Canada only compilation album.
- Made in Japan (1972) – Second original studio album.
- Make Up (1973) – Double album, consisting of both live and studio recordings. Featuring keyboardist Nobuhiko Shinohara.
- Times (1975) – A best-of album.
- We Are Here (2008) – First album after reuniting without Yuya Uchida.
- Resurrection (2008) – DVD.
- "Biography at Pony Canyon". hp.ponycanyon.co.jp. Retrieved 2011-11-02.
- "フラワー・トラヴェリン・バンド / SATORI [SHM-CD]". artist.cdjournal.com. Retrieved 2014-11-06.
- "CROCODILE _SCHEDULE". web.archive.org. Retrieved 2014-11-06.
- "Yuya Uchida Discography". uchidayuya.com. Retrieved 2011-11-02.
- "We just stopped, took a break. It turned out to be for 36 years!". jrawk.com. Archived from the original on 2009-01-01. Retrieved 2016-02-03.
- Inoue, Takako. 2009. Japanese rock 70's vol.2. Artes Publishing, ISBN 978-4-903951-25-6
- "First I had the idea, nobody cared. They said 'you're crazy!'". jrawk.com. Archived from the original on 2009-05-20. Retrieved 2011-11-02.
- "Sex, drugs and sitars". The Japan Times. 2008-05-02. Retrieved 2016-02-02.
- "Popular singer Joe Yamanaka dies at 64". kyodonews.jp. Retrieved 2011-11-02.
- "Yuya Uchida Discography". intnl.uchidayuya.com. Archived from the original on 2008-07-24. Retrieved 2011-09-08.
- Official Flower Travellin' Band website
- Official Joe Yamanaka website (Japanese)
- Official Hideki Ishima website (Japanese)
- Official Nobuhiko Shinohara website (Japanese)
- Official Yuya Uchida website (Japanese)
- Official Yuya Uchida International website (English)