“King of Psyborg Rock Star”, a death that astonished many

Hideto Matsumoto <Matsumoto Hideto>, more commonly known just as ‘Hide’, was born on December 13, 1964. He was once an extremely popular Japanese musician, but due to an unfortunate event, he passed away on May 2, 1998.

Matsumoto was primarily known as being the lead guitarist of the popular heavy metal band, X-Japan from 1987 to 1997, but also occasionally was a songwriter, contributing some of his composed songs such as the single “Scars” to the band. X-Japan, also known as just ‘X’ from 1982 to 1992, was one of the first Japanese acts to achieve mainstream success while being on an independent label, and is also credited for playing a major part of the visual kei movement, being one of the bands to pioneer it. Visual kei refers to a movement among Japanese artists characterized by the use of eccentric and sometimes flamboyant looks. It usually involves unusual hairstyles, striking make-up, and elaborate costumes that are often, but not always, coupled with more feminine looks on men.


His solo career took off when he had took place in an art film and recorded with one of the members of Luna Sea. In 1994, he oversaw the production of the first release on his own label. In the same year he also recorded and released his first solo album, Hide Your Face, in which in addition to songwriting, he played most of the guitar and bass on the tracks and provided all the lead vocals for it. In 1996, his second album was released, and in 1997 when X-Japan disbanded, he formally named his solo project ‘Hide with Spread Beaver’. Also in 1996, he formed a second band known as Zilch, that included some American and British artists.

In 1988, it was a dark and devastating year for fans, for it was the year of his death. After a night out drinking, Matsumoto was found hanged with a towel from a door knob in his Tokyo apartment. During the week of his death, five teenage girls tried to kill themselves while playing X music or wearing X merchandise, and of the five three succeeded. At his funeral, 50,000 fans mobbed the streets and by the end of the day 60 were sent to the hospital. Nearly 200 more fans received medical attention in first-aid tents after either passing out or injuring themselves in some other way. In one case, a girl tried to slit her wrists with a plastic knife.

Here is a quote from a radio-and-video-show host, Bryan Burton-Lewis, who toured with Hide as a disk jockey:

(Disclaimer: the quote is taken from an article in The New York Times, which should be fully credited to Neil Strauss)

”The wake was sad,” he remembered. ”I was sitting in there for two hours, and all you heard outside was kids screaming from the bottom of their stomachs. They sounded like demons. In Japan, the image that we have of the X audience is rural kids going through a rebellion phase. They put their life into being X fans: they dress like it, they breathe it, they all talk about how he gave them something to live for.

”A lot of what Hide did was grotesque. He’s talked about suicide in his records for five years. But the fans who followed him always knew there was a Hide behind that who was a very solid character. He was very outspoken about freedom and doing what you want, and he took on a fan who had a rare bone marrow disease as a personal crusade.”

Despite his death being ruled officially as a suicide, many of Matsumoto’s friends feel certain it was not. Many of them remembered him as a person who would go out of control when he was drunk, getting himself in trouble and yet having no knowledge of what he did the next day. Under these circumstances they believe his death was a drunken accident.

Even if Matsumoto Hideto has passed away, he is still remembered today with his music and reputation of being one of the few who have changed and shaped the image and genre of visual kei and his impact on culture and the music industry will never be forgotten. He has a museum built in his honor and a remembrance concert takes place every year.

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