Makoto Ayukawa of “Sinaloquet” told his daughter Yoko about the fierce final days of his life: “Even in a daze, he made a gesture of playing the guitar…” (Japanese only) | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Makoto Ayukawa of “Sinaloquet” told his daughter Yoko about the fierce final days of his life: “Even in a daze, he made a gesture of playing the guitar…” (Japanese only)

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“I am finally in a frame of mind to talk about my father,” said Yoko.

Makoto Ayukawa, vocalist and guitarist of the rock band Sheena & The Rokkets, passed away on January 30 from pancreatic cancer at the age of 74. 4,000 fans gathered at his funeral on February 4 to mourn his passing. His eldest daughter, Yoko Ayukawa (46), tells the story of his final days and his true face as a father.

At first, my father didn’t want to go to the hospital because he didn’t like hospitals and thought he was just feeling sick. But gradually he started feeling nauseous and losing a little weight, and I sensed something was wrong. After three days in the hospital, we found out that he had pancreatic cancer.

I was told that it was in the early stages, but I was soon told that I had only five months to live. My father always became a young man when he performed live (laugh), and he really performed with the same energy as before, and I never saw him have any difficulty singing or playing. So it was hard to believe that he was sick, and I had the feeling that he was actually fine.

As Yoko said, Ayukawa performed 43 concerts last year, the most in recent years. He traveled all over Japan, and in November, he performed on Miyakojima Island in Okinawa.

I couldn’t do any live shows for the past two or three years because of the COVID-19 crisis,” he said. So, at my father’s request, I had a lot of gigs last year. To be honest, there were times when I thought it would be better for him to rest more. He is 74 years old to begin with, and yet he had a really hard schedule each time. Sometimes I do a three-hour stage at a live concert. So I sometimes wished he would not push himself so hard. I thought, “I don’t want to shorten my life span by performing live now.

But my father said, “Don’t worry, it’s totally fine,” and he wouldn’t take it at all. My twin sister Junko is the manager, and my youngest sister Lucy is the vocalist. They say, ‘My father says he wants to do it because live shows are his reason for living, and it will cheer up the fans, so we should let him do it.'”

Yoko and her family were the only ones who knew about Ayukawa’s illness, and they did not even inform the band members. It was Mr. Ayukawa’s wish.

“My father didn’t want to tell anyone about his illness. He said he was the one who cheered up the audience, so he didn’t want them to worry. He said he would keep rocking until he died. He did not do any anticancer drugs in his treatment. I think he was half prepared for it when he found out about the disease.”

Offstage, manager Junko prayed for Mr. Ayukawa’s safety for Sheena in heaven, and Lucy was always ready to rush to the stage to support him if something happened to him on stage. With such support from those around her, Ms. Ayukawa performed on stage as usual until December 19.

He was suddenly unable to perform at the New Year’s Eve concert on December 31. On that day, he was planning to go, but when he checked himself into the hospital, his condition was worse than expected, and the doctor stopped him, saying, ‘You never know what might happen if you push yourself too hard. We found out that the doctor could come to our home, so we started recuperating at home.

At that time, my father was able to live a normal life. I thought the doctor’s words were an exaggerated concern. Still, I was worried, so I decided that the three of us sisters would rotate eight hours a day and stay by his side 24 hours a day. We wanted him to eat as much healthy food as possible, so we all thought about what we were going to eat.

I still feel as if my father is right there with me.

However, even though he seemed to be doing fine, the disease was still taking its toll on his body. Until shortly before his death, he was able to select songs on his computer and play the guitar, but after he started using a strong painkiller, he spent a lot of time in a daze. Yoko remembers the last conversation she had with him.

I had to prepare for a private exhibition of my paintings right around that time,” she said, “but I was secretly painting in the kitchen because I didn’t want my father to see me or I would have made him uncomfortable. But when I came to, my father, who should have been sleeping, was standing nearby, and suddenly he said, ‘Wow! I was so surprised that I couldn’t say anything. I was so surprised that I couldn’t say anything, but he said to me, “Draw a picture that makes everyone happy. I was happy. That was the last conversation I had with my father.”

Then came the final moment.

My father was in a daze in bed, and his death was rapidly approaching, and he was playing a CD by Sina Roke (“Sheena & Rokkets”). It was an old live disc, just as my mother Sheena was introducing the band members. My father was meditating, but if you look closely, you can see that his left hand was holding the neck of the guitar, and he was doing this over and over again as if he was stirring it with his right hand. My father was playing the guitar live until the very last moment. In front of a large audience, and I’m sure my mother was nearby, happy”

Rock Funeral” for Makoto Ayukawa, who passed away on January 29.

For Yoko, family was equal to “Sheena & The Rokkets” themselves. When she was a child, she was sent to live with Sheena’s parents in Kitakyushu, and when she went to elementary school, she moved to Tokyo to live with her parents. At the time, Sheena & The Rokkets were already stars.

When I went out with my parents, I was surrounded by people and stared at, and I was a little nervous walking around (laughs). (laughs) But we would go to live concerts of foreign artists together, and that was always a lot of fun. I was away from home during local gigs, but I always made it to Sinaloquet’s gigs in Tokyo. When there were no gigs, we were just like a normal family. My mother liked to cook, but she always made a very large quantity of oden in a big pot, like a school lunch. People who were invited to our house were usually surprised at the amount of food she cooked. But it was very tasty.

My father was always thinking and did not talk to me much. If I talked to him, he would talk, but if I talked about something I wasn’t interested in, he would just say, “Hmmm,” and we would never get into a conversation. If I started talking about music, he would talk so much that I couldn’t stop (laughs).

Although she usually got along well with her parents, they were strict in their discipline, and at times, such as when she was rebellious, they would clash. But Yoko says she still loved her parents.

They had a curfew, and if I was late for club activities and didn’t come home until after 6:30, they would call the school. Also, I would get in trouble if they found me shortening my skirt when I went to school, and they were very angry with me. My father would say, “There are demons outside! When I was in high school, I sometimes clashed with him because of that. It was usually my mother, but my father would always take my mother’s side. But I never disliked my parents because of that (laughs).

I think I was happy when I departed with my daughters watching over me.

She has felt the need to support her parents since she was a child. She says she learned to cook early on because her parents were often away at local gigs. It was the influence of her grandparents, who supported her parents when she was young.

I think I was a child who was so attentive to my parents that my friends were surprised. My friends would often ask me, ‘Why are you so careful? I was often told, ‘You care so much? I had seen my grandparents supporting my parents from a very young age, so when I started living with them in Tokyo, I always felt like I was close by supporting them. My parents also told me all about their work, such as, “We are going to record a new song,” or “We wrote this song,” and we would listen to the newly completed song together. We were like friends, like brothers.

Sheena & The Rokkets had been active without a break since their debut, but a turning point came in 2015. In 2015, Sheena passed away from cervical cancer.

As a daughter, I was worried that my father would miss her. But my father was determined to continue “Sheena & Rockets,” and decided to tour all over Japan for a year with Sinaloquet, now with three members! He said, “I’m just 47 (sheena) because there are 47 prefectures. He said that he wanted to thank his fans all over Japan who had supported him over the years in person and that he felt like he could be with his mother when he was on stage.

“All the daughters cheered for such a father. Gradually, the number of gigs that Lucy, the third daughter, participated in as a guest vocalist for Sinaloquet increased, and in 19 years, she became an official band member and supported the band on stage as a vocalist. They played new songs and even songs they hadn’t played live for many years, and the stage seemed to evolve each time they performed. It was really cool.”

She kept rocking out to the end of her life and kept moving forward.

Yoko Ayukawa was born in Kitakyushu City in 1976. Model and painter. She has worked as a fashion model for the Paris Collections and other fashion shows. Currently she is active as a painter. On May 2, Makoto Ayukawa’s birthday, a memorial concert is scheduled to be held at Shimokitazawa Shangri-La in Tokyo.

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