How I Made It

Rock star Yoshiki on how his career saved his life

Japanese rock star Yoshiki thought his band, X Japan, was over for good.

After two band members died and a third left to join a religious cult, X Japan disbanded in 1997. Future plans for tours and albums were cancelled.

Yoshiki had to figure out what was next. But he kept returning to the question, "Why am I here?"

Ultimately, the question made him realize that music was more than a gig or a way to make money. And it was that realization that inspired him to take his work more seriously.

"Now I'm pretty clear," he says. "I'm here to create the music. That's my mission for this life."



Yoshiki Hayashi, Japanese musician and producer.
Source: 'WE ARE X', Drafthouse Films
Yoshiki Hayashi, Japanese musician and producer.

For the rock star, it was thinking about his life's purpose that set his career back on track.

In 1998, X Japan and its millions of fans were rocked by the news of the death of the band's guitarist, Hideto "hide" Matsumoto. In 1992, lead vocalist Toshimitsu Deyama, known by his stage name "Toshi," left the band. He later wrote that he had been brainwashed into joining a religious cult. In 2002, tragedy struck again when another guitarist for the band, Yuji "Terry" Izumisawa, died.

X Japan reunited with new members in 2007. But in 2011, the bassist of the band, Taiji, died.

Yoshiki also had to deal with a family tragedy that had impacted him for years. When he was only 11 years old, his father committed suicide.

"I can express my pain and anger through music," he says. "Well, happiness too."

Yoshiki Hayashi in ‘We are X’.
Source: 'WE ARE X', Drafthouse Films
Yoshiki Hayashi in ‘We are X’.

After what the rockstar has been through, he says he does not take anything for granted. He is currently the subject of a documentary "We are X," which profiles his career.

"Who would have thought? Once I tried to give up my dream," he says. "But we played Madison Square Garden. Now I'm playing Carnegie Hall."

Taking time to be introspective can really help your career, the rock star says.

"It's kind of like a 'beyond money thing,'" he says. "I think money is going to follow if you're doing the right thing. Any occupation can be cool if you enjoy it."

Video by Sophie Bearman.