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Electronic music pioneer Ryuichi Sakamoto has died, aged 71

His death was announced via social media on Sunday, April 2

  • Words: Amira Waworuntu | Image: Joel Saget
  • 3 April 2023
Electronic music pioneer Ryuichi Sakamoto has died, aged 71

Award-winning composer and Yellow Magic Orchestra founding member, Ryuichi Sakamoto, has passed away on March 28, 2023.

The Japanese musician's death was announced via his official social media channels on Sunday, April 2.

A statement on his official website reads "In accordance with Sakamoto's strong wishes, the funeral service was held among his close family members."

Sakamoto is deemed a pioneering figure in the world of electronic music and hip hop thanks to his experimentations on synthesizers such as the Buchla, Moog and ARP in the early 1970s.

The Oscar-winning composer also ventured into the world of NFTs in 2021 where he digitally split and converted the notes of his track ‘Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence’.

Read this next: The amazing history of Ryuichi Sakamoto: 9 landmark moments that colour the genre-defying artist

In 2014, the seminal producer was diagnosed with throat cancer and in 2021 he also shared his bowel cancer diagnosis to the public.

He previously admitted his ‘Ryuichi Sakamoto: Playing the Piano 2022’ concert in late December last year “could be his last” due to his ongoing battle with cancer.

Prior to his performance, Sakamoto mentioned to Reuters how “I am praying that I will be able to make music until my last moments, just like my beloved Bach and Debussy."

Read this next: Ryuichi Sakamoto gets 2-hour online radio tribute show for his 71st birthday

His last studio album ‘12’ was released on January 17, 2023 — the day of his 71st birthday.

It features 12 tracks that Sakamoto wrote between 2021-2022 while battling stage four cancer, with titles based on dates each composition was written on.

Countless individuals and entities spanning multiple scenes are paying tribute to the trailblazing musician, whose decade-spanning career has contributed to music, film, art and much more.

Read some of the tributes to Ryuichi Sakamoto below.

Amira Waworuntu is Mixmag Asia’s Managing Editor, follow her on Instagram.

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