Toshi in 2018
|Birth name||Toshimitsu Deyama|
|Also known as||Toshi|
|Born||October 10, 1965|
|Genres||Rock, heavy metal, pop|
|Occupation(s)||Singer, songwriter, record producer|
|Instruments||Vocals, guitar, piano, drums|
|Labels||BMG Victor, Home of Heart, Office Samurai Japan, Universal Music Group|
Toshimitsu Deyama (出山利三 Deyama Toshimitsu, born October 10, 1965 in Tateyama, Chiba), known exclusively by his stage name Toshi,[Note 1] is a Japanese singer and songwriter. He is best known as lead vocalist and co-founder of the heavy metal band X Japan, who rose to prominence in the late 1980s and early 1990s and are cred as founders of the Japanese visual kei movement. Toshi began what would become an extensive solo career in 1992, before leaving X Japan at the end of 1997. By his own admission, Toshi was "brainwashed" by a group called Home of Heart, whose leader would control his musical output for the next 12 years. In 2007, X Japan reunited and began touring the world. Toshi severed ties with Home of Heart in January 2010, and renewed his solo career. His distinctive, impassioned tenor vocals have been compared to those of Steve Perry.
In 1977, Toshi and his childhood friend Yoshiki formed a band called Dynamite in their hometown of Tateyama, Chiba, when they were just 11 years old. The group changed its name to Noise in 1978, while they were still in high school. At this time Toshi was a guitar player; it was following the departure of their vocalist that Toshi was selected for the position after being deemed the best singer left in the group. In 1982, Noise disbanded and Yoshiki and Toshi formed a new band, they named it X while they tried to think of another name, but the name stuck. X began to actively perform in the Tokyo area in 1985 with a frequently changing lineup. They released their first album Vanishing Vision in 1998, through Yoshiki's own Extasy Records, and toured extensively in support of the record. They would become one of the first Japanese acts to achieve mainstream success while on an independent label, and later widely cred as one of the pioneers of visual kei.
X's major label debut album, Blue Blood, was released in April 1989 and debuted at number six on the Oricon chart. Its success earned the band the "Grand Prix New Artist of the Year" award at the 4th annual Japan Gold Disc Awards in 1990. Their third album Jealousy was released in 1991 and debuted at number one, selling over 600,000 copies. It was later certified million by the RIAJ. Shortly after the release of 1993's Art of Life, which also topped the Oricon, the members of X Japan took a break to start solo projects.
Toshi started his solo career in 1992 on BMG Victor with Made in Heaven, which reached number three on the chart. His eldest brother was given the job of his manager, however, after several incidents, Toshi gave him a sum of money to quit. But the troubles did not end there, as his new manager, who also became connected with the management of X Japan, was fired after large sums of money went missing from both offices. During the early 1990s, he started working with renowned American vocal coach Roger Love, who has been his coach ever since.
In 1993, Toshi expanded his horizons and starred in a musical adaptation of Hamlet as the title character. The role of Ophelia was filled by Kaori Moritani, whom he would marry four years later on February 17, 1997. She played a large part in Toshi becoming disenchanted with performing in a rock band and longing to be himself instead of putting on a show wearing makeup and bleached hair.
His next two albums, Mission (1994) and Grace (1995), also reached the top five. Dahlia, which would become X Japan's last album, was released in November 1996 and once again, it reached the number one spot.
In August 1997 Toshi first saw a concert of Tōru Kurabuchi (倉渕透), better known as Masaya, a musician and the leader of an organization called Home of Heart (formerly known as Lemuria Island, and later as Healing World). Toshi was emotionally touched by Masaya's "healing music" or new-age music, which Kaori introduced him to, and the two became friends. His wife, connection with Masaya, and participation in Home of Heart all became the source of many disagreements with his other older brother, who had become his manager in March 1995.
On September 22, 1997, it was announced that Toshi had decided to leave X Japan. They performed their farewell show at the Tokyo Dome on December 31. In September 1998, the magazine Shūkan Gendai published several stories claiming Toshi was brainwashed by Home of Heart, selling their music and other products, and being used as a spokesman. Toshi would later confirm these claims in his autobiography, but at the time refuted them and explained that his decision to leave X Japan dated back as far as April 1996, more than a year before he met Masaya, and that the glamorous, success-oriented life of a rock star failed to satisfy him emotionally, as opposed to a simpler life and career. Other media picked up the story, forcing Toshi and Masaya to give interviews where they blamed Toshi's brother and management for fabricating the stories. When transcripts of a telephone conversation were published, a search found wiretaps at Toshi's house and Home of Heart's office.
In October 1998, Toshi's management company underwent changes and came to be run by Masaya and Kaori. This was a violation of his recording contract, resulting in him being let go from BMG and having to pay a large fee. From that point onwards, Toshi's musical output was written and produced by Masaya and released through Home of Heart and their label Healing World. He embarked on extensive touring, traveling across Japan to perform acoustic concerts for small audiences. According to their website, his Utatabi (詩旅（うたたび) concert tour, which began in 1999, performed over 3000 shows by 2007. In April 2004, Home of Heart was brought up on charges of child abuse by Masaki Kito. Toshi and his office were involved in the court cases. In April, Toshi was sued for defaming Kito after he made statements about the accusations. In May, he then sued Kito for defamation and obstruction of business. Toshi was ultimately cleared of charges in the child abuse case without suspicion.
According to a report by the newspaper Sponichi, Toshi visited Yoshiki in Los Angeles in November 2006 to work on the song "Without You" as a tribute to former X Japan guitarist hide, who died in 1998. In March 2007, Toshi announced on his website that he and Yoshiki had recently resumed working together, stating that a "new project" would commence soon. Rumors of a X Japan reunion subsequently began, and in June Yoshiki was reported as having expressed interest in a tour (beginning in Los Angeles), "Without You" being released as a single and that he was in talks with Heath and Pata regarding their participation. On October 22, 2007, X Japan announced their reunion and released the Saw IV theme song, "I.V.".
With X Japan's restart came a restart of Toshi's solo activities. On June 11, 2008, his new band Toshi with T-Earth was announced, with a line-up of Phantasmagoria guitarist Jun, and guitarist Touya and bassist Ruka from the band Charlotte. For their live shows they would switch between La'cryma Christi's drummer Levin and Luna Sea's drummer Shinya. Their first album Earth Spirit was released on August 8, they dubbed their music "eco hard rock", as the reason for starting the band was to draw attention to the environment. In October, T-Earth performed two shows in South America, in Chile and Brazil. Their second album Haruka Naru Toki wo Koete, was released on November 26.
In April 2009, it was announced that 13-year-old drummer Riku, would be joining the group and that anyone who wanted to could apply to join, the only requirement was "people who want to save the Earth". In July, 18-year-old guitarist Ryo and 24-year-old bassist Kain officially joined the band. On August 13, they released an album in 2 versions: Hontou no Ai and its English version, Truth.
On January 18, 2010, Toshi filed a lawsuit against his record company Home of Heart, accusing them of claiming all of his income over the past 12 years, eventually forcing him to announce bankruptcy. Effectively severing ties with the company and its leader Masaya. He also divorced his wife Kaori Moritani, who had also been working for Home of Heart, Ltd., in February of the same year. Toshi even disclosed how they "effectively have not been husband and wife" saying: "Aside from having met her occasionally related to work, I do not know anything about her actual life." Toshi also claims that she had been living with Masaya for the past 10 years.
On February 8, Toshi opened a new official website, which announced that he would release one last mini album, entitled Samurai Japan, on February 24. His stage name is now written as Toshl. The songs were completely composed and produced by Toshi and feature X Japan's Pata and Sugizo. His "last solo concert" was on February 24, which he performed with X Japan's members as guest musicians.
On November 22, Toshi announced the first performance of his new project, entitled Toshl feat. Yoshiki, would be held on January 24 and 25, 2011. It was a high-end dinner show, where the attendees were served a French meal by renowned chef Mikuni Kiyomi, and enjoyed a piano duet by Toshi and Yoshiki, an orchestra was also utilized. It was also announced that the duo would release their first songs earlier that month.
In response to the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami that occurred in Japan on March 11, Toshi performed eight concerts throughout western Japan. All of the shows were acoustic due to the electricity shortage and featured X Japan's Heath, Luna Sea's Shinya and the Orchestra Ensemble Kanazawa. All proceeds were donated to the Japanese Red Cross to aid the victims. On June 22, Toshi released two songs, "Hoshizora no Neptune" and "Haru no Negai", as digital downloads that are available overseas. It was announced that Toshi had joined European record label Bishi Bishi in September 2011.
On March 27, 2013, Toshi released his first full-length album since restarting his solo career, Cherry Blossom. The single "Love is Maria" was also released that day, both are available worldwide in 111 countries. His next album Crystal Rock Chapter 1-3 was released on June 12.
Toshi released the book Brainwash ~Comeback from 12 Years of Hell~ (洗脳 ～地獄の12年からの生還～ Sennō ~Jigoku no 12-nen Kara no Seikan~) on July 23, 2014, which talks about his leaving X Japan, being "brainwashed" via violence and abuse, reuniting with X and going bankrupt. On August 25, he held a special concert at Zepp Diver City where he was supported by a one-off band consisting of Kei (baroque), Yuu (Merry), Akinori (lynch.) and Shinya of Dir en Grey. Toshi collaborated with Sukekiyo, singing on the track "Ameagari no Yūshi" (雨上がりの優詩) included with the limited ion of their 2015 mini album Vitium.
In 2016, Toshi became sound producer for Fuji TV's game company Fuji Games. He created "Crystal Memories" as the theme song for their 2017 smartphone video game Ordinal Strata. The following year, Toshi made his voice acting debut in the game voicing a version of himself. He also collaborated with hip-hop artist AK-69 on the rapper's May 14, 2018 digital single "Brave". On September 3, he released a food book titled Sweets Memory, Gâteau Chocolate (スイーツメモリー ガトーショコラ ダァ Suītsu Memorī Gatō Shokorada). In September it was announced that Toshl had signed with Universal Music Group, where he would release a cover album titled Im a Singer on November 28. It is his first album on a major record label in 20 years.
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