Babymetal’s Mikio Fujioka dead at 36
Mikio ‘Ko-Gami’ Fujioka, the guitarist of Japan-based metal idol band Babymetal, affectionately known as ‘Ko-Gami’ which means ‘The Little God,’ has passed away at the age of 36 due to injuries sustained after falling from an observation deck last month.The news of his death was announced on the band’s social media accounts. Baby Metal twitter account wrote, “The ‘Little’ Guitar Kami of #BABYMETAL’s #Kamiband has passed away in the METAL GALAXIES,” Babymetal tweeted earlier today. ”We hope that he is now with his GUITAR MASTER A.Holdsworth and enjoying an epic guitar session with him. We are the one, Together, We’re the only one, You are the one, Forever, #RIP #THEONE.”Mikio Fujioka as a guitarist symbolised rebellion, freedom, excess and youth. And with the rock period well ahead of him, he made easier for Japanese rock industry not to become a faded relic. In your blogger’s view, Mikio Fujioka was an exception as the industry lack of formidable guitar heroes. I’d argue we still have plenty of them in Japan but one cannot underestimate the gap he has left behind as one of leading the pack. Those of us who have followed rock music for decades, there is no doubt electric guitar has evolved as an instrument. But what makes a rock guitar hero is exactly what propelled ‘Ko-Gami’ to the levels he reached.’Ko-Gami’ was one of the first and most enduring guitarist with his unique fusion of different genres and have a feeling that many Japanese artists will emulated his showmanship and attitude.When I think of Japanese rock music industry, I think of an industry, a streamlined process, a packaged good created in a factory under strict and meticulous supervision. But for your blogger who has rock running through his veins day and night, the components are different, there are no much similarities between American and European rock with that of Japan. Yet, the formula and ultimate outcome is the same, just as precise, equally profitable for rockers.
Thats why Fujioka death is a reminder that unlike Western Europe and North America, Japan’s rock industry is full of guitarist youngsters whether its young guys or girl with a pretty face.According to a tweet from the guitarist’s wife, Fujioka was injured in a fall while visiting an astronomical observation platform on 30 December. The following week saw his condition worsen until he succumbed to his injuries. He was surrounded by his family, including his two daughters, at the time of his death. Fujioka graduated from the Musicians Institute of Osaka in 2000 at the age of 19 and joined as a member of BABYMETAL’s Kami Band in 2013. Formed in 2010, Babymetal formally consists of three female members, namely Su-Metal, Yuimetal and Moametal. Fujioka career as their touring guitarist included shows supporting among others Metallica concert in Korea and Red Hot Chili Peppers’ UK tour two years ago.Fujioka was also a member of a band Trick Box and in addition to his wife, he was survived by two children.While sales of the electric guitar may not be as high as it was before, in the past four years, the work of Fujioka had become increasingly influential in Japan’s rock music. As one of the prominent new music ensembles, Fujioka embraced the electric guitar. In fact, he managed to change aspects of how Babymetal group operate, due partly to amplification and balance issues and the opportunity to use electronic effects across all the instruments in an ensemble.Compared to the rock music of the North America and Europe, Fujioka proved Japan’s guitar solos are still strong in mainstream rock. But in the genres of heavy metal and progressive rock, shredding which is simpler language is rapid, high energy, virtuosic playing, is still a valued form of expression that Fujioka had fully perfected. Your blogger will forever remember him as a progressive guitarists whose work as guitar maker and effects designers helped redefined how to come up with new ideas for playing low, heavy riffs.