Multi-talented Japanese musician Yoshiki Hayashi sparked renewed interest in classical music during his second visit to the GRAMMY Museum Wednesday night. The momentous occasion was hosted by Stan Lee and Marc Geiger, both collaborative partners and longtime friends of Yoshiki. As the GRAMMY Museum unveiled their newest addition to their expanding exhibit, die-hard fans nearly smothered themselves on the glass to catch a mere glimpse of Yoshiki’s piano before his live performance.
Press anxiously swarmed around the transparent crystal piano, waiting for the man of the night to descend from his grunge tower above. As writers fiddled with their pens and camera operators stationed their devices, Stan Lee made a brief introductory speech about Yoshiki.
“There’s never been a musician quite like him,” Lee said. “Classical, pop, name your instrument, he plays it and he plays it better than most anybody else.”
Known for his versatile talent in music, Yoshiki , along with his band X Japan, transformed the rock scene in Japan. The group founded the now widely popular visual kei, or visual style, nearly 30 years ago. Classically trained as a child, his talents cross and unite the opposing genres of classical and heavy metal music. His greatest feat is not his impressive platinum discs on display, but rather reminding the world and the music industry that classical music and rock are not mutually exclusive genres.
After quickly congratulating Yoshiki on the exhibit and advertising their collaborative comic Blood Red Dragon, Lee stepped away to return the spotlight back onto his partner. Despite the overwhelming amount of questions thrown his way, Yoshiki calmly addressed the crowd in both English and Japanese, maintaining perfect posture and composure.
“I don’t know what to say,” Yoshiki said. “I’m honored to be featured here.”
Surprisingly, Yoshiki’s exhibit is only a small corner of the museum, filled with numerous memorabilia from his successful career as both a solo artist and as the lead member of X Japan. The glass panels contain two of the 13 items on display: a large X Japan plaque consisting of the band’s gold and platinum records, along with a YoshiKitty — yes, he has his own commemorative Hello Kitty. Despite the amount of items being limited, fans can look forward to the ones that are on display, including one of Yoshiki’s many visual kei outfits. In addition, the replica of his Kawai Crystal II Grand Piano CR-40A in the museum’s lobby will leave fans drooling as it allows them to see the very backbone of Yoshiki’s music.
Before the musician’s rooftop performance, Marc Geiger, a famous talent agent and the musician’s promoter, explained his interest in Yoshiki.
“Right when I heard Yoshiki playing at the Grammy Museum last August, I was so impressed that I told him ‘you got to go out on the road,’” he said. “And he initially fought and he said ‘no’ and then ‘yes,’ but now he is going to tour the world.”
Fans, both international and domestic, have been hungry for the rockstar’s return to music since his composition of the 69th Golden Globe Awards theme in 2012. After two years, Yoshiki is ready to return to the stage but this time under his classical talents. He gave the Wednesday night audience a small taste of some of the songs they can expect on his world tour.
Starring an all-female quartet (including a USC Thornton School of Music alumna), the stage was primed for the ultimate up close and personal experience. Yoshiki impressively conducted the quartet by merely flipping his hair while skillfully sliding his fingers down the crystal piano’s keys. Fans and press members packed tightly together as each fought to capture the perfect angle of Yoshiki as he softly dipped his head low enough to graze his own fingers.
During his first song, Yoshiki’s sorrowful rendition of X Japan’s rock ballad “Forever Love” left the air damp with tears. Halfway into his performance, the self-proclaimed “vampire” hid his eyes with his iconic sunglasses as the projector lights had become “too bright for him.” Some fans in the crowd speculated it might have been done to boost his confidence as the audience had shaken him with their proximity. By the final song, a solemn rendition of X Japan’s “Endless Rain,” they were pushing towards the stage to become close enough to reach him.
Both Yoshiki’s classical album and his heavy metal discography can be found on iTunes. His tour’s will stop in Costa Mesa, Calif., on April 25. Tickets for the concert will go on sale soon.