Akira “Finger 5” Looks Back on the Epic Backstage of the Entertainment Industry as He Celebrates His 60th Birthday
I worked so hard from morning to night, day after day, that I lost consciousness and went out of my body several times,” he said. There were so many music programs on various stations, and I was on them all the time. My manager’s notebook was black with a minute-by-minute schedule. How did you do it?
There was not a day that went by that I did not see this man’s face.
In the summer of 1973, “Private Lesson” (lyrics by Yu Aku, music by Shunichi Tokura) became a big hit. ) became a big hit. Akira’s songs “Private Lesson,” “Koi no Dial 6700,” and “Gakuen Tengoku” (lyrics by Yu Aku, music by Tadao Inoue) were all million sellers. All were million sellers.
The five cheerful siblings, Kazuo (the eldest), Mitsuo (the second), Masao (the third), Akira (the fourth), and Taeko (the second daughter), could sing and dance. Akira, the main vocalist, was especially popular. The long-haired schoolboy with large dragonfly glasses and well-developed high-pitched voice made a strong impression.
The reason he came to Tokyo was to make his debut in the entertainment industry on the mainland. In 1968, she moved to Tokyo, but she could not make her debut without a visa, so she earned her living by performing in clubs at Yokota Air Base.
In 1970, he made his long-awaited debut with “Watashi no Koibito-san” (lyrics by Masao Tamaoto, music by Kazuo Tamaoto) on King Records.
He released several records after that, but they were all unsuccessful.
In those days, children’s songs were all nursery rhymes, and my father started packing my bags to go back to Okinawa if I was going to be forced to sing nursery rhymes again,” she said. At that time…”
A disciple arrived with a message from Mickey Curtis.
He wanted us to give them one more performance, and he even slept over at our house to keep us from going back to Okinawa.
When Mickey Curtis saw a group of four young men playing in a band in Kawasaki appear on TV, he called the TV station on the spot, scouted them out, and gave them their record debut. They were Carol, led by Eikichi Yazawa. This is a glimpse of Mickey Curtis’ great discernment during this period.
With his packing finished, he postponed his return home, if he was so inclined, and transferred to a new record company and released “Private Lessons” on the Philips label.
At first, Akira did not wear his trademark large dragonfly glasses. Taking a hint from Akira Fuse singing with sunglasses on a public radio program, he bought similar glasses at Isetan Shinjuku and tried to wear them on stage. However, his eldest brother vehemently opposed the idea. Akira went in front of the audience just before the show. The NHK staff praised Akira’s dragonfly glasses. Since then, they have become Akira’s trademark.
Akira, who was extremely busy, went on stage even though he had a high fever of 40 degrees Celsius.
“Behind the rug,” the manager whispered to me.” Akira, everyone is here to see you. What will they do if you collapse here and go to the hospital? He said. It was a sound argument, but at the time it was too much for me. I thought, “They’re going to make me use up this much of my life. They are children, so they use all of the remaining 10 percent of their energy.
He collapsed several times in the middle of work and was taken to the ambulance and put on an IV. In the hallway, a doctor warned the manager, “You’ll die if you let him work any longer.
The office is involved, so it’s a struggle. If one of us goes down, one of us goes up. If one person gets crushed, one person goes up.
A veteran female singer got angry about something and punched their manager, who blew her up five meters. I was shown the world of adults in a way I didn’t want to be exposed to.
I wasn’t interested in the awards. They were judged by old men who didn’t know anything about music. I was told in advance by the office that I wouldn’t win. It was just a made-up race. I knew the results, so I didn’t care. When we debuted, we won the Young Idol Award, which was a very special award. That was the only award we ever won. We thought it would be a bad idea if we didn’t win something.
When the show was selling extremely well, Akira and his colleagues, who were working an extremely demanding schedule, became an issue in the Diet, and perhaps NHK refrained from selecting them for the Kohaku Uta Gassen (Red and White Singing Contest).
I was happy, though, because I could take New Year’s Eve off. But in hindsight, maybe I should have gone out at least once.”
Akira’s body began to change. Akira’s body began to change, a change in voice that is inevitable for a boy entering puberty.
The manager took me to an ENT clinic in Shibuya and told me I had no choice but to get a female hormone injection. The manager took me to an ENT clinic in Shibuya and told me the only way was to take female hormone injections to stop the growth of my voice. But he told me that if I took the shots, my hair would stop growing and the size of my vagina would get smaller. I couldn’t do that, so I refused right then and there. I couldn’t tell my parents or my siblings.
Since this is a digital edition, I will describe the behind-the-scenes story of how this article came to be published in a “making of” style. The master of the neighborhood barbershop where I go to cut my hair mentioned in small talk while cutting my hair, “I’m drinking buddies with Akira of Finger 5.
The Finger Five were a group at the height of their popularity in 1973, when I was a sophomore in high school. As Akira himself testified earlier, there was not a day that went by that I did not see the five siblings from Okinawa on TV, in newspapers, or in magazines.
Living in Tokorozawa City, Saitama Prefecture, I heard the following rumor.
Finger 5 is in Higashimurayama, the next town over!
It was an urban legend among children that the Finger 5 lived in Higashimurayama City, Tokyo, a 15-minute walk from Tokorozawa City on the border of two prefectures.
Japan’s busiest idols must live in luxury apartments in the Akasaka area. But who would have thought she would be living in Higashimurayama, a suburb of Tokyo, where frogs croak?
The year was 1973, the year before Shimura Ken joined the Drifters and three years before the Higashimurayama Ondo became a nationwide hit.
Hachikokuyama, which lies on the border between Higashimurayama and Tokorozawa prefectures, is now famous throughout Japan as the model for Mount Shichikoku in Hayao Miyazaki’s “My Neighbor Totoro” (screened in 1988). However, at that time, Hachikuni Mountain was nothing more than a small, unremarkable Musashino landscape.
Higashimurayama was a much more minor place than it is now, so it was impossible for Japan’s busiest idol to be there. My sister, who was in her first year of junior high school, and her friends went to visit him, saying that if he existed, they would take a picture of him and publish it in the class newspaper. We thought it was just a rumor.
I got it!”
When the photos were developed, they showed Akira peering mischievously into the camera and Taeko proudly climbing into the lumber yard.
The Finger 5 legend was true!
But why was a fiercely busy group of five at the foot of Mount Hachikoku?
If I could have met Akira, I would have asked him about the mystery of his Higashimurayama residence, which had been a mystery for half a century.
Akira himself explains the mystery.
Before he made his debut, he used to perform at a club in Yokota Air Base to earn his living. We looked for a house for rent in a town close to the base. That’s how we ended up in Higashimurayama.”
Even at the time of his string of million-seller hits, he was still living in Higashimurayama.
There was Hachikokuyama nearby, and we played there often. We caught crawfish in the rice paddies and used to grill them and eat them.
He was very tough.
It never snows in Okinawa, so I saw snow for the first time when I came here. It was fun. For us, this was a foreign country. My father told me to stand there with a plate, and I would wait for the snow to fall from the sky and accumulate on the plate, then pour melon syrup on it and eat it.
Incidentally, he did not remember the junior high school girl who came from the next town over to take his picture.
The change in voice was the catalyst for a decline in her popularity. The most difficult time is when a young idol is transitioning from a child to an adult. She retired from show business at the age of nineteen, having achieved great success in the world of show business.
Even when Finger 5 became a huge success, his father was still working at a refrigeration factory in Higashimurayama. His father, who had always been opposed to his children’s entry into show business, was very much in favor of their returning to the public life.
Akira’s next job was as a salesman of electrical appliances.
He was a neurotic salesman with no sales and no money to eat. I was so skinny that I almost died for the second time. It was hell. I thought I was going to kill myself.
After being told by a senior colleague to “open up more,” he sang his old song instead of greeting people when he visited them, was invited in, sold electrical appliances, and improved his performance. Selling motivated him to return to singing 20 years ago.
She has been a singer for 20 years. “I had seen a lot of bad things, so I thought I should live my life in the opposite way. I can be pure.”
I asked him one more question.
Finger Five never had any scandals, did they?
I said, “No, there wasn’t. Because my father would kill me. It was our job to live honestly.”
His father, who had already left for the sky, was a master of Ryukyu karate, so good that he taught it to the police.
The best thing about returning to the world of singing was being able to perform on the same concert stage as Isao Odo.
When I thought about dying, Isao Ofuji’s theme song from “Ashita no Joe” encouraged me, and I decided not to go through with it,” he said. Joe crawled up from a reformatory. The song encourages me to be as strong as Joe, right? When Mr. Odo was singing on stage, I was beside the rug and tears were coming down my face.
Akira playing Eric Clapton’s “Change the World” in the park.
Suffering was the spice that made the melody more flavorful.
Interview and text： Nobuhiro Motohashi Photographs： Yuri Adachi