Heath, the longtime bassist for Japan’s most popular rock band X Japan, has died, the group confirmed today. He was 55 years old.
According to the group’s statement, the musician died on October 29 of colon cancer.
“It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of X Japan’s esteemed bassist Heath on October 29, 2023, at the age of 55, following a battle with colon cancer,” the group said in a statement. “During tests in June this year, he was diagnosed with cancer. Despite his efforts to fight the disease, in October his condition suddenly worsened and he breathed his last in hospital.
“We would like to express our heartfelt gratitude to those who loved Heath throughout his life. We, the members of X Japan, have personally said goodbye to Heath, but we are still deeply saddened and horrified by his sudden loss.”
Formed in 1982, members of X Japan with one name became megastars in Asia with their second album in 1989 Blue blood. Heath joined the group in 1992 and played on its albums The art of life (1993) i Dahlia (1996), both topped the Japanese charts. The group performed a sold-out farewell concert on New Year’s Eve 1997 in Tokyo before disbanding.
They reformed in 2007, and Heath played bass in the group until his death.
Born Hiroshi Morie on January 22, 1968 in Amagasaki near Osaka, Heath continued his solo career after the disbandment of X Japan in the 1990s. After releasing his debut album of the same name in 1995, he released several other albums until 2009. Traitor (1997) entered the top forty of the Japanese album chart, and in 1998 a pair or sets followed X Japan: Break AND Cubist from the gang era.
In 2000, he founded Dope Headz together with X Japan guitarist Pata and others. The group released four albums in 16 months in 2001-02, all of which entered the Japanese charts.
Founded by co-founder drummer, pianist and lyricist Yoshiki, the group sells out shows abroad, but – despite signing a recording contract with Atlantic Records in 1992 – never achieved much success in the US
X Japan’s evolution into glam-metal and pop superstars is fraught with as dramatic a history as any international rock band. The group survived the breakups and deaths of three members, selling over 30 million albums and singles worldwide. Her glam fashion and musical aesthetic have influenced other bands and youth around the world Visual-kei rock movement.
Heath and X Japan appeared in the 2016 documentary film We are X, director: Stephen Kijak and producer: In search of Sugarman EP John Battsek.
In 2010, the band made great progress in the US, signing a new contract with EMI Music in 2011. In the same year, Yoshiki was the host Radio Yoshiki, a weekly SiriusXM show on Ozzy’s Boneyard that showcased his favorite music while highlighting elements of Japanese pop culture. X Japan made their US concert debut during the 2010 Lollapalooza tour.
“Heath’s obituary was originally scheduled to be published later in November, per his family’s wishes, but was announced earlier due to unsubstantiated media reports,” the band added in a statement. “The funeral will take place only among the immediate family. The family requests that all visits, donations and flowers be suspended. The funeral date will not be revealed. We appreciate your understanding. A formal farewell ceremony for Heath will be held at a later date… in accordance with Heath’s wishes as communicated by his family.”