Singer, Songwriter Fall Out

It seems that enka singer Mori Shinichi (59) has bitten the hand that feeds him. Songwriter Kawauchi Kouhan (86) is furious that Mori has been performing a version of his best-known hit, “O-Fukuro-san”, that is different from the one he wrote. The weird thing is that the hit dates back to 1971 and Mori recorded the new version, with a verse added at the beginning, as long ago as 1977. He held an emergency press conference before a televised NHK concert yesterday, and insisted that nothing had ever been said about the matter and that he left such things in the hands of his staff. Kawauchi retorted that he has been protesting about it for six or seven years. After watching a video of Mori performing on last New Year Eve’s “Kohaku Uta Gassen”, he insisted on a meeting with the singer and his staff last weekend. Mori cancelled at the last minute saying he had a cold. This was the last straw for Kawauchi, who insists he will never meet Mori again or allow him to perform any of the more than 30 songs he wrote for him. He has even made this formal with JASRAC, the organization that protects artist copyright, and says he is prepared to take legal action if Mori performs his songs. The singer had planned to perform “O-Fukuro-san” yesterday, but made a last-minute switch. The song, whose title means “Mother”, is dedicated to Mori’s own mother, who commited suicide in 1973. The added verse is an apology for being a bad son and a futile request to be scolded one more time. A bad start to the year for one of enka’s top stars, who also had a rough time in 2006 when he had a messy split with Masako, his wife of almost 20 years.

• Singer-songwriter Onitsuka Chihiro (26) is coming back after an absence of more than two years. She plans to release a new single at the beginning of summer, to be followed up by her first original album with Universal Music. Her 11th single, and to date her only release with the label, was in October 2004. She has been on hiatus since failing to renew her management contract with Sony Music Artists the following January. She was the victim of a stalker in July of 2005. It wasn’t until a magazine article in September 2006 that she gave any indication that she was still writing songs. Her latest recording is being produced by the renowned Kobayashi Takeshi (47), best known for his work with Mr. Children and married to My Little Lover vocalist Akko.