Sachiko Kanenobu

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Remembered mainly for a stunning standalone solo album released in 1972, Sachiko Kanenobu became a cult figure in Japan's vast psych-folk underground, in large part because she disappeared from the country…
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Remembered mainly for a stunning standalone solo album released in 1972, Sachiko Kanenobu became a cult figure in Japan's vast psych-folk underground, in large part because she disappeared from the country on the eve of her debut's release. Signed as a teenager to the equally precocious Underground Record Club label -- Japan's first indie label, and available by subscription only -- Kanenobu joined the backing band of singer Tomoya Takaishi and eventually fronted her own outfit, Gu. They released only two singles: "Akara Ga Kietera" ("When the Lamp Goes Out") and "Akuma No Ohanashi" ("Demon's Tale"), the latter under the name Himitsu Kessha Marumaru Kyodan (Secret Society Totally Teaching Group).

Other members of the URC stable, Happy End, Eiichi Otaki (also Kanenobu's beau) and Haruomi Hosano (future founder of Yellow Magic Orchestra) aided in the production of Kanenobu's debut, Misora ("Beautiful Sky"). Hosano wisely left Kanenobu's songs (mostly) alone, filling them with spare percussion and occasional electric guitar licks. The results branded her as "the Japanese Joni Mitchell" for a lifetime. It was a tag she never got to enjoy, or even disprove, emigrating secretly to the United States after a chance meeting with the American rock critic Paul Williams before the album was issued. Despite a language barrier, the two soon married in July 1972, raising two children. Kanenobu did not attempt to launch a career in the United States. (She is featured in several of Williams' books about Bob Dylan.)Through Williams, she met the science fiction writer Philip K. Dick -- Williams was his literary executor and biographer -- who encouraged Kanenobu to record again.

She formed a punk band, Culture Shock, and sang in English, their recordings sponsored by Dick until his untimely death in 1982. She separated from Williams the following year, though -- in 2009 -- would play a benefit on his behalf with Donna Grace Noyes (Williams' other ex-wife) and country songwriter Cindy Lee Berryhill (his then-current wife). In the late '80s and early '90s, Culture Shock toured Germany, releasing several albums there and building a following.

Rediscovered in Japan in the early '90s at the hands of Flipper's Guitar co-founder Kenji Ozawa, Misora was reissued to much acclaim, as well as a Japan-only disc of rarities and live performances, titled Toki Ni Makasete. Following her rediscovery, she released a Japan-only solo LPs in 1995 (It's Up to You) and 1999 (Sachiko).