Formed during the first peak of punk music in the late '70s, the Roosters, who mixed punk with blues, ska, and rock & roll, became one of the first and most important Japanese bands to influence the generation that led the J-rock world conquest in the 1990-2000s. The group eventually ranked 75 on HMV's famous Top 100 of Japanese artists. Established in 1978 in Fukuoka, the Roosters initially included guitarist Hiroyuki Hanada, vocalist and guitarist Shinya Ohe, bassist Tomio Inoue, and drummer Jyunji Ikehata and aimed to be a cover band -- covers dominated their first two albums, The Roosters (1980) and The Roosters à-Gogo (1981), although these records also included numbers penned by Ohe. The group focused on original material beginning with its third album, Insane (1981), and in 1982 the band also appeared in the cult sci-fi punk musical #Burst City alongside the Rockers and the Stalin. By the time of the Roosters' fourth album, Dis, in 1983, Hanada had joined Ohe as another songwriter for the group, and that year the lineup underwent a huge change, with Ikehata leaving and Masayuki Nadatomo (drums), Jun Shimoyama (guitar), and Koichi Ando (keyboards) all joining. Inoue quit in 1984, replaced by Kazuhiko Sakuyama. The renewed band recorded Good Dreams and Phy (both 1984), but then Ohe decided that he had enough and quit music altogether, with Ando also leaving the band. Hanada stepped up to be the vocalist and main songwriter, and Toshiyuki Shibayama began to write the lyrics, although he always remained an outside contributor to the band, which altered the spelling of its name to "the Roosterz" in 1985. Two albums later (Kaminari, 1986, and Passenger, 1987), the rhythm section also left, replaced by Nikichi Anai (bass) and Shigeo Mihara (drums), who completed the band's last lineup, which recorded the album Four Pieces (1988) before disbanding. In 1999, the tribute album Respectable Roosters came out, featuring bands like Thee Michelle Gun Elephant, Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra, Kemuri, and Pillows, and in 2002 Hanada, Inoue, Shimoyama, and Ikehata created the new project Rock 'n' Roll Gypsies. In 2004, the Roosters reunited with Ohe for a stint at the Fuji Rock Festival. ~ Alexey Eremenko, Rovi
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