Group Sounds

genre of Japanese rock music

Group Sounds or GS is a group of people who perform and sing, centered on electric instruments such as electric guitars and electric basses. It was influenced by rock groups such as The Ventures, The Beatles, and The Rolling Stones in Europe and the United States, and it became popular in Japan from 1960 to 1971.

The Spiders during their 1966 visit to the Netherlands



Generally speaking, "Group Sounds" refers to rock groups that were active mainly in jazz and go-go cafes in the late 1960s. This genre has some common features because many groups have lead vocals, electric guitars, electric bass, & drums.

There were vocalists such as the early The Happenings Four, a guitarless GS, and the early Sharp Hawks, a chorus GS with a professional electric band in the background. In May 1965, while the popularity of British rock bands such as The Beatles spread to Japan, Shōchi Tanabe and The Spiders released "Furi Furi", which is considered to be the first Group Sounds record. In March 1966, Jackey Yoshikawa & His Blue Comets announced their first album "Blue Eyes".

This year after the Beatles' performance in Japan in 1966, the groups began to sing while playing musical instruments such as electric guitars. In response to this, the youth entertainment magazine "Weekly Meisei", began to collectively call these groups and music "Group Sounds" or "GS", and the name became widespread. There is a theory that Takeshi Terauchi said that in 1965 when asked about the genre of Blue Jeans at that time, "It's a group sound" and "But it's a singular form, so Group Sounds is better".

Blue Jeans were influenced by The Ventures. Those who were active as professional bands before the Beatles' performance in Japan, such as Blue Jeans, Blue Comets and The Spiders, and those who played blues rock like The Golden Cups and The Tempters. Some bands such as The Tigers and The Jaguars, were formed by students who were influenced by The Beatles and Rolling Stones. In this way, even with GS, the musicality of each group varied considerably. The music industry at that time was still old, and entertainment professionals and record companies wanted to ask professional composers and lyricists to write music for GS upcoming songs.

Therefore, the Tempters and The Golden Cups, who played mainly their favorite Western rock music at concerts and recitals, felt a backlash. Some groups, like The Golden Cups, adhered to the policy of never playing singles like "Long-Haired Girl" at live performances. Jackey Yoshikawa & His Blue Comets and The Spiders became popular groups in the early days of the GS boom, and The Tigers, The Tempters, and Ox became popular in the middle and late stages of the GS boom.

The Spiders, The Blue Comets, and The Golden Cups were also popular GS comparable to them. In the 1960s, Japan was a society with a feudal side with strong fatherhood, and elements such as long hair and electric guitar were linked to badness and juvenile delinquency. Some high school students who went to see Group Sounds concerts were either suspended or dropped out to created their own band. Junior high schools and high schools prohibited going to concerts. At an outdoor concert at The Tigers' Nara Ayame Pond in November 1967, a fan fell and was seriously injured. NHK cut the appearance part of The Tigers that had already been recorded in "Grand Show of Song", and after that, with the exception of Jackey Yoshikawa and his Blue Comets who had short hair, long-haired group sounds were banned.

In May 1968, a concert admission ticket forgery by a high school girl fan of The Tigers also occurred. A series of girls fainted due to the fainting performance that Ox performed on the stage, and this triggered the antipathy of PTA and educators. To prevent accidents, theaters and local governments said that Group Sounds bands should not have concert venues. In the special feature of "Record Collectors", record companies appointed professional songwriters to the GS group who aimed to make their own performances by hiring songwriters such as Rei Nakanishi, Kunihiko Murai, Kyōhei Tsutsumi, Kunihiko Suzuki and other songwriters.

In the 1960s, there were several professional female GSs, including Pinky Chicks, Chikako Matsuda, and Tokyo Pink Pearls. Only Pinky Chicks released a record. Some female GS members were able to release disco records in the 70's. Later, a surf rock-style Golden Half also debuted their records. Their album, "Beyond the Sun", was a cover of Astro Notes. Emy Jackson was a solo singer who made her debut on Philips Records as an English born citizen, but during the heyday of GS, Akiko Nakamura, Jun Mayuzumi, Michi Aoyama, Rumi Koyama, Aki Izumi and others also made their debut. Akiko Nakamura's "Nijiiro no Lake", Jun Mayuzumi's "Tenshi no Yuwaku" and "Koi no Hallelujah" were big hits.

Jun Mayuzumi's "Saturday Night, something happens" is a representative song of the female version of GS. In addition to the hit song, Ichiro Araki, a male singer and songwriter, released an ambitious work, "I'm in Rockland with you." The Genova's "Saharin's Light Doesn't Extinguish" and The Voltage's "It's a Man's Man's World" are examples of cult GS works.

The GS boom peaked around the summer of 1968, and more than 100 groups had made their record debuts, but in the spring of 1969, major members withdrew from popular groups such as The Tigers, The Carnabeats, and OX, and again. Jackey Yoshikawa and his Blue Comets even recorded songs on a mood song line. Around 1970, the GS boom came to an end, and in 1971, most groups were disbanded or disappeared. Among the people who served as lead vocals in the popular Group Sounds, many people continued to be active.

From 1988 to 1990, a group called the Tigers Memorial Club Band was formed, and the hit songs of that time were released. In addition, Kyosei Iwamoto, who was imitating Kenji Sawada, was impressed by them and formed a band with Katsumi Kahashi, Taro Morimoto, Shiro Kishibe and The Tigers Mania among members of The Tigers in 1993. "Victim of Romance" has been released. Meanwhile, The Wild Ones were reunited in 1981 and are still active.

Jackey Yoshikawa and his Blue Comets did not dissolve and continued activities while repeating member changes, and after the death of Daisuke Inoue in 2000, the heyday We are returning to the organization of the remaining four people. Both The Tigers and The Wild Ones belonged to Watanabe Productions during the heyday of GS.

In 2002, Village Singers' "The Girl with Flaxen Hair" was covered by Hitomi Shimatani and became a smash hit. GS was treated for a long time as an "old-fashioned melody" after the boom had passed. However, research by Susumu Kurosawa, a GS researcher from the mid-1980s, and re-verification by Haruo Chikada have been carried out, and it has attracted some attention. The Mops are also evaluated overseas as "psychedelic rock" and "garage rock". In Japan, re-edited albums by label, albums by genre, and CD recurrences with the same paper jacket specifications at the time of release were released one after another. Kyohei Tsutsumi provided the songs for C-C-B, which appeared in the mid-1980s. At about the same time a younger generation of GS fans played GS-style songs mainly at live houses in Tokyo. Representative bands at that time include The Phantom Gift and The Collectors. This movement was featured in some media, but it was a small phenomenon. After that, Dixied, Emons and others inherited GS.

Even after the 21st century, GS-style rock bands and GS followers such as Kinoko Hotel, The Captains, and The Shallows have been born. Since 2010, bands such as The Juliannes was created by former Jackey Yoshikawa and Tsunaki Mihara of Blue Comets have been created.

Group Sound bands in Japan


Other Group Sound bands


Group Sounds of Foreigners


Women's Group Sounds


Solo GS singers


Neo GS


New Generation Group Sounds