The roots of Japanese neo-psych legends White Heaven date back to 1980. Originally dubbed Living End, the group was shaped from a series of jam sessions helmed by singer/guitarist You Ishihara, its sprawling, ever-revolving lineup of musicians eventually crystallizing in 1984 around You, guitarist Tetsuya Sakamoto, bassist Takayuki Nakagoshi, and drummer Ken Ishihara. After a handful of gigs, Living End added guitarist Ken Matsutani, and in late 1985 the quintet adopted the name White Heaven. Matsutani exited in mid-1986 to form his own outfit, Marble Sheep & the Rundown Sun's Children, and after adding ex-ONNA guitarist Michio Kurihara, the group issued Electric Cool Acid, a self-released cassette documenting a live appearance in Tokyo. A series of lineup changes plagued White Heaven over the next few years, and when in the spring of 1991 the band finally issued its first official LP, the P.S.F. label release Out, the lineup consisted of You on vocals, Michio on guitar, Ken on drums, and Naohiro Yoshimoto on bass. Michio and Naohiro both exited soon after the sessions wrapped, with new guitarist Souchirou Nakamura and bassist Kouji Samura signing on for the second White Heaven LP, 1993's Strange Bedfellow. Michio returned to the roster in time for 1994's Next to Nothing, with bassist Koji Shimura replacing Kouji for the follow-up single, "Threshold of the Pain." After issuing an expanded Electric Cool Acid, White Heaven toured Europe. Upon returning to Japan, Kouji returned to the lineup, this time replacing Ken on drums, with Chiyo Kamekawa assuming bass duties for what would prove to be the group's final LP, 1997's Levitation. Following an Osaka performance later that year, White Heaven dissolved, with You mounting a solo project and Michio joining Ghost. In late 1999 You, Michio, and Chiyo reunited as the Stars, recruiting drummer Yasunobu Arakawa for their 2004 debut LP, Will.
© Jason Ankeny /TiVo
© Jason Ankeny /TiVo
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