The renowned composer and music producer Ryuichi Sakamoto passed away on March 28. Sakamoto, who won an Oscar for his music in The Last Emperor, will also be remembered as one of the pioneers of electronic music with the Yellow Magic Orchestra, which he co-founded. He was 71 years old.
Sakamoto was suffering from rectal cancer. He was first diagnosed with throat cancer in 2014 and the treatment worked. However, in 2022, he revealed that he was sick again. The statement from Avex, a company Sakamoto worked with, said that despite his cancer, he kept working on his music in his home studio. “To his final days, he lived with music,” the statement said.
In addition to his music activities, Sakamoto was also an actor. He starred in Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence (for which he won a BAFTA Award for best score) and The Last Emperor, while also appearing in Madonna’s “Rain” music video. His last album, 12, came out in January of this year. Sakamoto also worked on numerous anime titles: he composed music for Royal Space Force: The Wings of Honneamise, My Tyrano: Together, Forever, and most recently Exception. His most recent anime involvement was Urusei Yatsura’s “Ikenai Rouge Magic” insert song, which he worked on with Kiyoshiro Iwamano.
Sakamoto was married three times and has four children. One of his daughters, Miu Sakamoto, is also a musician. She was born during Sakamoto’s second marriage to Japanese singer and pianist Akiko Yano.
Ryuichi Sakamoto was an outspoken activist against nuclear energy. He was also a critic of copyright law, claiming it was an outdated concept in the information age.