Sakazaki Konosuke (Tokyo, 1954- )
Takamizawa Toshihiko (Saitama Prefecture 1954- )
Sakurai Masaru (Saitama Prefecture, 1955- )
The Alfee - Sakazaki Konosuke (main vocal and percussion), Takamizawa
Toshihiko (guitar) and Sakurai Masaru (bass) - are one of Japan's
true survivors. They've been around for almost three decades and
released over 40 albums but the length of their career belies
the fact that they spent many years struggling before they made
it big. More than their recorded work, their live shows have established
their reputation as consumate performers.
Takamizawa and Sakurai attended the same high school but while
Sakurai was interested in the folk music boom that was sweeping
Japan in the 1960s, Takamizawa had been bitten by the electric
guitar bug and was a confirmed rock and roller. The two knew each
other but were hardly friends. Meanwhile Sakazaki was looking
for a band to join and met up with Takamizawa and his cover band
Confidence at a contest. Sakazaki joined the band and as it turned
out all three attended Meiji Gakuin. There, Sakurai ended up joining Confidence and a year and a
half later they made their professional debut.
They released their first single Natsu Shigure on the Victor
Japan label in 1974 but nothing happened. The next couple of years
were spent scraping a living together and touring the country
as much as they could. They got as far as appearing on the annual
Kohaku Uta Gassen, an annual New Year song contest extravanganza, as the backing
band for singer Yuki Saori. Another few years passed and they
switched to the Pony Canyon label in 1979. Their second "debut"
single Love Letter didn't do much better than the first.
Another few years were spent playing ever larger tours until finally,
in 1983 they released the hit single Mary Ann and promised that
they would soon be playing at the Nippon Budokan. On August 24th of that year, the eve of the ninth anniversary
of their debut single, The Alfee came through on that promise,
a remarkable feat for a band with only one success under their
belt. That New Year they appeared again on Kohaku, this time as
themselves. They had finally reached the big time.
Over the following decades, the band has played thousands of concerts
across the country. They tour every spring and autumn and play
an outdoor concert every summer. And abroad, they appeared on
the American Music Awards in 1991 and played in Berlin as the opening event of Japan Year
in Germany in 1999. These days, The Alfee may not appear too often
on the "young and hip" radar but a new release is guaranteed to
get into the top of the charts. Their single Juliet entered at No.5 in August 2001.