Southern All Stars (サザンオールスターズ), also known by the abbreviations Sazan , is a Japanese rock band that first formed in 1974. Keisuke Kuwata (Lead vocals) is very famous in Japan.
In their early days, the band changed its name frequently. Finally, when keyboardist Yuko Hara (who would become Kuwata’s wife in 1982) joined the group, they chose a permanent name, Southern All Stars.
After several changes of members, they tried for the contest of amateur musicians. At this contest, Kuwata won a prize for the “best vocalist”.
In 1978, their debut single “Katte ni Sindbad” was released. Its title was named after two hit songs in 1977, “Katte ni Shiyagare” by Kenji Sawada and “Nagisa no Sindbad” by Pink Lady.
♪ Tsunami ♪ (covered by Debbie Gibson)
In addition, the release date of their debut single was Sawada’s 29th birthday. The song featured Kuwata’s impressive coarse-grained vocals like a tongue twister. To promote their first single, they appeared on various TV programs.
The weird costumes they dressed in and their eccentric performance made an unforgettable impact on listeners. Their single gradually climbed the charts.
In 1979, “Itoshi no Ellie”, their third single released , was sufficient to overturn their comedic public image. This pop-ballad was highly regarded by many Japanese music critics and artists.
The song is regarded as one of the most notable songs by the Southern All Stars. In 1988, a cover version by Ray Charles (as “Ellie My Love”) was featured in TV-CM. It was released as a single in Japan only.The cover version by Charles became the best-selling single performed by a Western artist in 1989.
♪ Ellie, My Love ♪ (covered by Aiza Seguerra)
Ray Charles is one of America’s all-time great musicians. He plays the piano and sings. He also composes, or makes up, his own music. His music is a mix of jazz, blues, and black church music. It tells about love and pain, and joy and sorrow.
Ray learned about sorrow early in life. When he was four, his two-year-old brother, George, fell into a washtub. George was too heavy for Ray to pull out. By the time Ray could get his mother, his brother had drowned.
The next year, Ray began to have trouble with his eyes. His parents tried to find doctors to help him. But it was hard then for black families in the South to get good medical care. Ray’s left eye had to be removed when he was six years old. His other eye became blind a year later.
Ray had shown an interest in music since the age of five. After he lost his sight his parents decided to send him to a special school for blind children so that he could study music there. His mother held him close and said, “You’re blind, not stupid. You lost your sight, not your mind.”
What is the magic that draws people all over the world to Ray Charles’ music. He touches his listener’s emotions with his voice. Sometimes, when people clap and clap, he gets up from the piano. He stands and holds out his arms to them. It makes people feel that even though he is sightless, he can see things that others can’t see.
Ray Charles is called the “King of Soul” in the music world. One reason he is called that is because his music gave birth to much of today’s soul music. But there is perhaps a more important reason. When Ray Charles sings, people can see and understand what he is feeling. When Ray Charles sings, his soul shows.
Several decades passed from their debut. They still continue running the top.
Southern All Stars are perhaps the most successful of all Japan’s pop/rock acts. “Tsunami” to over 3 million in all, making it the third best-selling single ever in Japan.
Their lively performances had earned them a reputation as something of a comic band, but this hit marked them out as a group to take seriously. The band’s longevity and staying power…Incredible!
♪ Manatsu no Kajitsu ♪ (covered by Ayaka)
♪ Snow White ♪ (covered by BOYZ ll MEN)