Hideto Matsumoto (松本 秀人, Matsumoto Hideto?, December 13, 1964–May 2, 1998), was a popular Japanese musician. More commonly known by his stage name Hide (pronounced /hi.de/, given in all-lowercase letters by the artist), he was primarily known for his work as lead guitarist of the popular heavy metal band X Japan from 1987 to 1997. He was also a successful solo artist and co-founder of the United States based band Zilch.
Early years (1964–1984)
Hideto Matsumoto was born in St Joseph's Hospital, Midorigaoka, Yokosuka, on December 13, 1964. He entered kindergarten in 1968, studying English for three years, followed by an enrollment in Yokosuka Tokiwa Junior High School. He was first exposed to rock and roll music at the age of fifteen, through the album Alive! by Kiss. In the same year his grandmother bought him his first electric guitar, a Gibson Les Paul Deluxe.
On March 11, 1980, Matsumoto graduated from Tokiwa Junior High School. He then entered Zushi Kaisei Senior High School in Zushi, Kanagawa, where he entered the school's brass band as a club activity. He quit the band soon though, because he was assigned the clarinet, while he wanted to play the trumpet. After this, he concentrated on guitar playing and in 1981, formed the independent band Saver Tiger. A year after their founding, they started playing shows at live houses in Yokosuka, such as Rock City.
In April 1983 he started attending cosmetology and fashion school at the Hollywood Beauty Salon in present-day Roppongi Hills, from which he graduated with outstanding results in 1984. Later that year he took a nationwide examination and successfully obtained a beautician license. In July 1985 Saver Tiger released the self-titled EP. In November, the band contributed to the Heavy Metal Force sampler series, which would also include songs by X Japan later on.
In 1986 the group changed its name to Yokosuka Saver Tiger to avoid confusion with a similarly-named band from Sapporo. Their first appearance with the new name was on the sampler Devil Must Be Driven out with Devil. They continued to perform in live houses and night clubs such as Meguro Rokumeikan, Omiya Freaks and Meguro Live Station.
Shortly after Yokosuka Saver Tiger disbanded, Hide had a conversation over the phone with X band leader Yoshiki who expressed an interest to revive X Japan which had taken a hiatus after band members Jun and Hikaru had left.
X Japan (1987–1997)
Hide joined X Japan (then called X) in 1987. He became the band's lead guitarist and occasional songwriter, composing songs like "Celebration", "Joker" and the single "Scars". Shortly after the release of the album Art of Life, the members of X Japan took a break, to start solo projects. Around that time, the group also dropped most of its original visual kei aesthetics, the exception being Matsumoto, who would still perform in wildly colorful outfits and with his trademark pink hair.
Solo career (1993–1998)
In early 1993, Matsumoto was featured on the sampler Dance 2 Noise 004, with the song "Frozen Bug", which he recorded with Inoran and J of Luna Sea. He also starred in an art film titled Seth et Holth, along with Tusk of Zi:Kill. In 1994, Matsumoto oversaw the production of the first release on his own label Lemoned (founded in 1989), an EP from the band Zeppet Store. In the same year, Hide recorded and released his first solo album, Hide Your Face. In addition to songwriting, he played all the guitars (including bass) and provided all the vocals. The cover art was based on a mask designed by Swiss artist H. R. Giger.The album's musical style differed significantly from the speed metal anthems and power ballads of X Japan, leaning more towards alternative rock. Matsumoto then went on the Hide our Psychommunity Tour, for which the live band was hired that would later become part of his primary project, Hide with Spread Beaver.
A second album, Psyence, was released in 1996, also followed by a tour, Psyence a Go Go. After X Japan disbanded in 1997, Hide formally titled his solo project "Hide with Spread Beaver". He also formed a second band, named Zilch, which, apart from himself and Spread Beaver percussionist I.N.A. was comprised of American and British artists, such as Joey Castillo (formerly in Danzig) and Paul Raven of Killing Joke. As with his solo project, Matsumoto acted as primary songwriter, singer and guitarist. In 1998, work on first albums of both, Spread Beaver and Zilch began, which Matsumoto never finished himself, due to his death in the same year.
Hideto Matsumoto died on May 2, 1998. After a night out drinking, he was found hanged with a towel tied to a doorknob in his Tokyo apartment. Three fans died in copycat suicides, of the 50,000 people who attended his funeral in Tsukiji Hongan-ji, nearly 60 were hospitalized and about 200 received medical treatment in first aid tents.Later that month, the single "Pink Spider" was released, entering the Oricon charts at number one. The song would also receive that year's MTV Video Music Award in the category "Japan Viewers Choice".Sales were also strong for the follow up single "Ever Free", while those of a single released previous to his death "Rocket Dive" would also see a substantial increase. American Journalist Neil Strauss commented on the trend saying that: "In just a few weeks, pop culture in Japan had gone from mourning Hide's death to consuming it."
While authorities deemed Matsumoto's death a suicide,several of Hide's friends and colleagues stated that they believed it to be an accident, among them X Japan co-founder Yoshiki Hayashi and former X Japan bassist Taiji Sawada. This notion is supported by the fact that no suicide note was left and Sawada theorizes in his autobiography, that at the night of his death, Hide may have been practicing a technique to relieve upper back and neck pains which guitarists can suffer from continuous use of a shoulder strap. The technique involved was practiced by the X Japan members during their touring days and required the use of a towel and a door knob or handle. According to Sawada, Matsumoto may have fallen asleep in his intoxicated state, becoming caught and strangling himself.
Zilch bassist Paul Raven commented that Hide was "under a lot of stress", due to recording schedule for the Ja, Zoo album. He went on to question the ultimate degree of Hide's involvement in the finished record, stating that only three songs had been completed before he died.Ja, Zoo was released in November of the same year, making it the only original studio album to bear the Hide with Spread Beaver handle. The Zilch debut album 3.2.1. was also released and the group continued to perform and record for several years. While they never achieved mainstream success in the United States one of their songs was included on the soundtrack for Heavy Metal 2000.
On May 1, 1999, a tribute album was released, titled Tribute Spirits. It features covers of Hide songs by several bands (such as Buck-Tick, Luna Sea and Oblivion Dust) and solo artists, among them most former X Japan members.A Hide museum opened in Yokosuka on July 20, 2000.
As with many other late musicians, re-issues, compilations and previously unreleased portions of Matsumoto's work continue to be published, the most recent being several singles, re-released on May 2, 2007, the ninth anniversary of the artist's death.The remaining members of X Japan recently reunited and recorded a new song, titled "I.V.". It contains a previously unused guitar track by Hide.On July 8, 2007 Yoshiki Hayashi announced to be in talks with several musicians regarding a Hide tribute concert set for 2008, in order to commemorate the tenth anniversary of his former bandmate's passing. The Hide Memorial Summit was held on May 3 and May 4, 2008 at the Ajinomoto Stadium, where X Japan, as well as many other bands, performed.
At the outset of his solo career, Hide experimented with instrumentations very different from what he had usually access to in X Japan. The song "Psychommunity", for example, has four guitar tracks and employs a full string section. As another example, his song "Blue Sky Complex" features guitars in drop C tuning, a trumpet section, and an organ.
The title track of his second album Psyence is a big band/jazz composition with full brass, other songs on the record explore genres such as reggae, industrial rock and glam rock, with varying uses of guitar effects.
Instruments and songwriting are less experimental on the Ja Zoo album, most songs featuring a fairly conventional instrumentation of two guitars, bass, drums, and keyboards. Traditional piano and violins do, however, make an appearance.