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Yellow Magic Orchestra drummer Yukihiro Takahashi has died at age 70

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

Yukihiro Takahashi, the drummer and lead vocalist of the influential band Yellow Magic Orchestra, died over the weekend.

(SOUNDBITE OF YELLOW MAGIC ORCHESTRA'S "TONG POO")

CHANG: Takahashi first gained attention in Japan and the United Kingdom in the early 1970s for his drumming skills in a band called Sadistic Mika Band. And in 1978, he released a solo album called "Saravah!" highly influenced by soul and French pop.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SARAVAH!")

YUKIHIRO TAKAHASHI: (Singing in non-English language).

CHANG: That same year, Takahashi formed Yellow Magic Orchestra with some band mates. The group, often referred to as YMO, were trailblazers in the synthpop genre. Here's their take on the Beatles' hit song "Day Tripper."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "DAY TRIPPER")

YELLOW MAGIC ORCHESTRA: (Singing) She was a day tripper, yeah, a one-way ticket, yeah. It took me so, so long to find out. I found out.

JESSE HAWKEN: It was like they created blueprints. You can trace the evolution of several music genres that we have today from the work that YMO did in the late '70s, everything from video game music to hip-hop to electronica. They basically created a new sound.

CHANG: That's Jesse Hawken, writer and host of the "Junk Filter" podcast. YMO became a worldwide sensation after their first self-titled album, and they're considered to be one of the most successful Japanese bands of all time thanks in part to the vision and sounds of Yukihiro Takahashi.

HAWKEN: It was like a supergroup. They were massive in Japan. And these three massive careers joined forces almost like a Voltron and created an even more massive musical footprint that has left its mark.

(SOUNDBITE OF YELLOW MAGIC ORCHESTRA'S "RYDEEN")

HAWKEN: One thing that has to be said about Yukihiro Takahashi is that he was a drip God, as people have pointed out; like, completely stylish. I think only George Harrison gets anywhere near him in terms of being effortlessly stylish in every single photograph.

CHANG: Yukihiro Takahashi could often be spotted wearing a fedora and chic eyeglasses. He was 70 years old. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.