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Initially a T. Rex/David Bowie-inspired glam rock act, Yellow Monkey soon expanded the range of their influence to include styles like hard rock, disco, and progressive rock, and rose to be one of Japan's top bands of the '90s. The group, shortened to YeMon by its fans, began in 1988, formed by Yoshii "Lovin" Kazuya, Hirose "Heesey" Youichi, and Kikuchi "Annie" Eiji and joined later by Kikuchi "Emma" Hideaki (the brother of Eiji). Initially a bassist, Yoshii soon switched to guitar and took over the vocal duties. The lineup was stabilized -- and remained unchanged thereafter -- and so Yellow Monkey began to build up their rock cred by playing underground clubs. It took them three years to release their first EP (Bunched Birth, 1991), but the wait was worth it, because their indie offering got them a deal with Columbia. Over the course of four albums released in the early '90s, Yellow Monkey gradually realized their commercial potential, their success becoming obvious by 1995 when they recorded the best-selling single "Love Communication," featured on the album Smile, and finished their big Japanese tour with a Budokan show, sneaking another album Four Seasons into their schedule before 1995's end.

Around that time they worked in a recording studio in London and, although label problems forced a switch to the Funhouse imprint and delayed their next (and fifth) album, Sicks, until 1997, when the CD was finally released Yellow Monkey hit their commercial and creative peak. Sicks topped the charts, the single "Burn" sold more than a million copies, the song "Tactics" was picked for the ultra-popular samurai anime series Rurouni Kenshin, and in 1998 the band did an unprecedented 113-date Japanese tour. Yellow Monkey also released English versions of some of their songs before returning to the U.K. to record the follow-up to Sicks -- their sixth LP, Punch Drunkard (1998). However, at this point the bandmembers were burned out. Yellow Monkey cut down on their live activity, and, although managing to get two more albums out (So Alive and 8), in 2001 the band began a hiatus that was confirmed to be a split in 2004. Hirose went on to form Heesey with Dudes, and Yoshii had a successful solo career, playing as Yoshii Lovinson before reverting to his real name. ~ Alexey Eremenko