The Japanese David Bowie.
Kenji Sawada, singer, songwriter, actor and performer, is considered one of the greatest Japanese entertainers of the last 40 years.
Sawada debuted at 20 in 1967 as member of the band The Tigers.
The band was immediately a huge success, mainly due to the scintillating look of lead singer Sawada, who from the outset drove girls crazy and became a teen-idol nicknamed “Julie” (Japanese pop stars often used English girls’ names as nickname and Sawada chose his in honour of actress Julie Andrews, of whom he was a big fan).
The first songs by The Tigers became instant hits: "Kimi Dake ni Ai” (Love only for you) e "C,C,C".
In 1968 the Bee Gees were commissioned to write two songs for them to elevate the band to worldwide fame. One was called “Smile For Me”, though it didn’t turn out to be the success it was intended to be. As a result of this flop, the band split in 1970.
Sawada then decided to form a “supergroup”, PYG, which included members of various bands: The Spiders, The Tempters and The Tigers.
PYG didn’t last long as they disbanded a year later, and Sawada decided to carry on with a solo career, producing great hits such as "Yurusarenai Ai" (The Forbidden Love) e "Kiken na Futari" (Danger For Two).
At the end of the Seventies Sawada-Julie started wearing trendy and fancy clothes, as well as heavy make-up. This, along with his extravagant performances and his effervescent personality earned him the title of influential and innovative fashion icon of those years.
In March 1969 he even appeared on the cover of the Rolling Stone magazine and is the only Japanese to date to have had such honour, along with Yoko Ono.
Amongst his signature moves during his shows we have: throwing his hat, drinking whisky and spurting it out in a mist during “Casablanca Dandy”, wearing a parachute during “Tokyo” or dangling a Snoopy doll from his waist during “Hare Nochi Blue Boy”.
Media often called Sawada “the Japanese David Bowie”; he has always fascinated the Japanese audience for his characteristic effeminate and stereotypically gay behaviour, something that over centuries has often positively attracted Japanese audiences.
Regardless of his sexual ambiguity, Julie married twice, the first time with Emi Ito, singer of the group The Peanuts, the second time with Yuko Tanaka, met on the set of the film Tora-san many years after divorcing Ito.
Julie enjoyed the peak of his career in the late Seventies – early Eighties.
In 1977 his huge hit"Katte ni Shiyagare” (Do What You Like) earned him the Record Taisho (an important annual music award).
Nowadays Sawada carries on enjoying a satisfactory musical career, he often appears on TV and has appeared throughout his career in at least twenty films.