Founder of Johnny’s Entertainment, Kitagawa Johnny Dies at 87

Kitagawa Johnny was rushed to the Hospital with “subarachnoid hemorrhage” (stroke)  on June 18th, 2019 and news of his ‘death’  immediately overtook Twitter. Three weeks later, I was skeptical when once again they were talking about his demise. However,  this time it was real.

The company did not release official information on the state of Johnny’s health until July 1st, 2019 when Arashi faced the media. “When we have time, we go to the hospital as often as we can. We wish he would get better as soon as possible,” Arashi member Matsumoto Jun said. Paparazzi posted pictures of Ikuta Toma and Yamashita Tomohisa visiting him during his hospitalization.

Unfortunately, Kitagawa never left the hospital and died on Tuesday, July 9th, 2019  at 4:47 p.m. Kitagawa was born in Los Angeles on October 23, 1931, as Hiromu Kitagawa, and his family returned to Japan when he was very young. He later returned to America and spent some of his youth there. He taught English to orphans in the Korean War for the United States Army. Kitagawa returned to Japan again and founded Johnny & Associates in 1962 after establishing the male idol group Johnnys.

Here are the bands his company represents. Johnnys, Tanokin Trio, Four Leaves, Shonentai, Hey! Say! JUMP, SMAP, NEWS, V6, Arashi, Tackey & Tsubasa, KAT-TUN, KinKi Kids, Tokio, Kanjani8, NYC, Kis-My-Ft2, Sexy Zone, A.B.C-Z, Johnny’s WEST, King & Prince (links to Wikipedia) and Actors Yamashita Tomohisa (his record label has changed to SME Japan) and  Ikuta Toma. 

One of the most revered figures in the entertainment industry, Kitagawa’s hit-making strategy of not limiting his artists to releasing records, but placing them in a range of variety and TV shows, enabled him to maintain a virtual monopoly on boy bands for over 57 years.

But his career has not been without incident.

He was the subject of numerous allegations of sexual misconduct. In 1999, Japanese weekly magazine Shukan Bunshun published a series detailing accusations of child abuse and sexual exploitation made by several boys under his wing.

However, he was never charged with any crimes on the basis of the allegations. 

He recently worked as the executive producer for the Japanese movie “Shonentachi” released in March this year.

Hideaki Takizawa, a former member of the J-pop idol duo Tackey & Tsubasa who was named president of Johnnys’ Island Inc., an affiliate company of Johnny & Associates, this January, is rumored to be Kitagawa’s successor. -Kyondo News

I’m not very interested in records. Once you release a record, you have to sell that record. You have to push one song only. You can’t think of anything else. It’s not good for the artist.

—Johnny Kitagawa, June 1996

Sources: Asian News. ~ Japan Times ~ Kyodo News ~ Anime News Network ~ Nikkan Sports ~ Twitter ~Wikipedia

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