Abe Futoshi, guitarist for the defunct J-rock band Thee Michelle Gun Elephant died this week, his management said on their website yesterday. He was 43. The cause of death was given as an acute epidural hematoma, a rare condition rare that is most commonly caused by a head injury. TMGE, who were also known to fans simply as Michelle, formed in 1991 when all four members were attending Meiji Gakuin University. Abe (photo right) joined as guitarist in 1994. Usually seen wearing mod suits, they played a straightforward amalgam of punk and pub rock behind the rasping vocals of Chiba Yusuke. The band’s distinctive name was born when a friend of Chiba’s made a fumbling effort to read the title of the Damned album “Machine Gun Etiquette.” They made their major label debut with the single “Sekai no Owari” (The End of the World) in 1996 and went on to headline several major rock festivals. The band released a total of 16 singles and 8 albums before they split in 2003. After an extended break away from music, Abe later pursued several solo projects.
It was revealed yesterday that enka singer Yamamoto Joji (59) is undergoing treatment for a tumor found in his right ear. The singer held a press conference yesterday to talk about his condition. With his usual deep tan and sharply dressed, he looked as healthy as always. But he said that he has lost most of the hearing in his right ear since late May. He underwent surgery to remove fluid from his ear, but further MRI scans revealed a growth. Though the tumor turned out to be benign, his doctor said it is likely to grow in size from its current 5mm but did not advise radiation treatment as it could damage his facial nerves. Shocked by the news, Yamamoto’s initial reaction on his blog was, “I don’t need this useless right ear. I’ll carry on with just the left one!” But fans encouraged him not to give up hope and seek further medical advice. Encouraged, Yamamoto said he will see a specialist in early August. He insisted also that he didn’t want to let the condition affect his career and he plans to continue his ongoing 35th anniversary concert tour.