TOKYO, June 20 — The frenzied drummer who is the force behind rockers X Japan declared headbanging to be “no good” today as he sported a neck brace at his first press conference since emergency surgery.
Yoshiki, who is known for such intense drumming that he sometimes collapses on stage, shocked fans last month when he announced he would need an urgent operation to implant an artificial cervical disc.
Today Yoshiki appeared at a Tokyo press conference in sunglasses, black leather outfit — and the neck brace.
“I’ve thought about it and I have to say that headbanging is no good,” he said, drawing laughter from fans.
“I may sound weird saying it at this point.”
But the career rocker immediately appeared to walk back his no-banging pledge.
“I may end up headbanging again, unless there is a law banning it.”
The frail 51-year-old — whose group was one of the biggest acts in Japanese music history with fanatical fan followings in the 1980s and 1990s — cancelled all his immediate activities before and after the operation at a hospital in Los Angeles, where he lives.
A neurosurgeon in Japan had told the rocker he had such severe neck damage that it would have forced a professional rugby player to retire, his management said in May.
“I’m not well. It hurts a lot,” he said today.
“I had an artificial cervical disc inserted, but it isn’t used to my body yet, maybe.”
The performer, whose full name is Yoshiki Hayashi, had suffered bone fractures since childhood but pursued such an aggressive brand of heavy metal drumming that he would often writhe in pain on the floor by the end of shows.
X Japan, combining the power of arena metal with the glam androgyny of David Bowie, won legions of devoted fans ranging from screaming teenage girls to Japan’s former prime minister Junichiro Koizumi to US rockers Kiss.
Yoshiki, who is also a classical pianist, said he plans to play the piano instead of drums at X Japan concerts next month.
In January Yoshiki played the piano at New York’s Carnegie Hall with the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra, but he had already lost feeling in his left hand.
“It feels as if tens of thousands of volts of electricity are running through my hand,” he said today.
But he kept performing since that show, including at an X Japan concert in March at Wembley Arena in London.
“Many US artists have become legends after they died. But I want to be an artist who inspires people by keeping on going and staying alive,” he said. — AFP