Pioneering Japanese musician, label owner and designer Toshio Nakanishi has died at the age of 61. He was diagnosed with esophageal cancer last September.
Nakanishi was the frontman and driving force for the late ’70s and early ’80s new wave group Plastics. The band was praised by Talking Heads, B-52s and Devo. Rolling Stone Japan called Plastics’ debut Welcome Plastics the 19th greatest Japanese rock album of all time. He married band vocalist Chica Sato.
Nakanishi went on to co-create Japan’s first exclusive dance music imprint Major Force, formed the band Melon with Sato, and then turned to hip-hop, using the stage names Tycoon To$h and Tycoom Tosh.
Nakanishi was central to the club culture in Tokyo in the late ’70s. In addition to the influential Plastics, he co-owned Pithecanthropus Erectus, a crucial venue in the Tokyo scene at that time. He also produced a hip clothing line called Melon Private Collection.
After Plastics disbanded in 1982 he spent time in New York and where he recorded Melon’s first album. The act variously included influential Japanese musicians Hiroshi Fujiwara, Masayuki Kudo, and Kan Takagi, as well as the participation of American musicians Bernie Worrell and Dougie Bowne and Welshman Percy Jones from Brand X.