Boy-band mogul Johnny Kitagawa, 'godfather' of Japan's entertainment industry, dead at 87
Described as a mogul, the agency Kitagawa founded, Johnny and Associates, was responsible for household names of boy bands like Tanokin Trio, Hey! Say! JUMP, SMAP, Arashi, Kanjani8, V6, NEWS and KAT-TUN, over a period of five decades
Johnny Kitagawa, one of the most influential figures in Japanese entertainment died Tuesday. Kitagawa was 87 and suffered a stroke. He died from a ruptured cerebral aneurysm at a hospital in Tokyo, reported the Japan Times. Described as a mogul, the agency Kitagawa founded, Johnny and Associates, was responsible for household names of boy bands like Tanokin Trio, Hey! Say! JUMP, SMAP, Arashi, Kanjani8, V6, NEWS and KAT-TUN, over a period of five decades.
Founded in 1962, his company is considered Japan's premier male talent agency and production company. Responsible for 232 number one singles between 1974 and 2010, Kitawaga held three Guinness World Records including for most number one singles, the most number one artists and the most concerts produced by an individual, according to the BBC.
Born Hiromu Kitagawa in Los Angeles in 1931, he moved with his family back to Japan as a child. He entered show business in 1962 with a ground-breaking four-man pop group called Johnny's. In time, the agency he founded would virtually hold a monopoly over the lucrative boy band industry in Japan and the man himself would be hailed as the godfather of Japanese entertainment.
Kitagawa collapsed June 18 and has been in hospital since, though the incident was kept a secret. However, reports emerged of multiple visits from entertainers. The five members of Japanese pop group Arashi admitted July 1 the mogul was in the hospital.
A statement by the agency said Kitagawa was moved out of intensive care before passing away and was able to meet with entertainers he had produced over the years. “The time Johnny spent with them at the hospital was precious,” a translation of the statement by the Japan Times read. “Wrapped in the love from his children, he closed the final curtain at 4:47 p.m. on July 9, 2019.”
It added that his final wish was that “this world would continue to be peaceful and full of hope so that people could continue to enjoy entertainment.” Ending, “We’d like to convey our appreciation to all the fans and concerned parties from the bottom of our hearts.”