Lyricist Takashi Matsumoto on Happy End, writing for pop and helping change the course of Japanese music history

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It’s hard to understate the impact Takashi Matsumoto has had on modern Japanese pop and rock music. Known to most for his role in the influential group Happy End, the drummer and lyricist boasts a song catalog that puts him in league with the likes of Quincy Jones and Oscar Hammerstein.

Matsumoto was born in Tokyo’s Minato Ward in 1949, and growing up he’s said to have been a big fan of the Beatles. In college, he began making the rounds of the capital’s then-fledgling live-music community. He joined a psychedelic rock band, Apryl Fool, in the late 1960s, embracing a style that was at the time considered radical compared to the then on-trend “group sounds” artists that mimicked bands like the Beatles.

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