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Vodka Collins original lineup circa 1972, left to right: Alan Merrill, Take Yokouchi, Hiroshi Oguchi, Monsieur Hiroshi Kamayatsu.(Vodka Collins)
Alan Merrill – vocals, guitar
Hiroshi ‘Monsieur’ Kamayatsu – guitar
Take Yokouchi – bass
Hiroshi Oguchi – drums
Although they were together barely three years, Vodka Collins was Japan’s biggest glam rock band of the ‘70s, and remain legends to this day on account of their songwriter having written Joan Jett’s anthem ‘I Love Rock’n’roll’, and their drummer and lead guitarist both having been superstars of the Group Sounds scene. Formed as a trio in 1971, initially as a side project around ex-Spiders lead guitarist Hiroshi ‘Monsieur’ Kamayatsu, the two other original members consisted of ex-Tempters drummer Hiroshi Oguchi and ex-Four Leaves guitarist Take Yokouchi. However, whilst searching for a much younger frontman, the trio discovered the talented Eurasian model, TV actor and singer/songwriter Alan Merrill, whose American mother Helen Merrill was a national treasure to the Japanese, being a singer/actress in the Doris Day tradition. Alan Merrill, who had made his first solo LP whilst still in his mid-teens, acted in the TV show Young 720 and sung with Group Sounds act The Lead, delivered the band a whole bunch of T. Rex-styled songs, all of which would make it on to the first Vodka Collins album TOKYO-NEW YORK. The band signed a big deal with Toshiba/EMI Records and the powerful Watanabe Entertainment agency, immediately scoring massive hits with their single ‘Billy Mars’, ‘Automatic Pilot’ and ‘Sands Of Time’. However, when Merrill’s success brought him no increase in paycheck, he quit on the eve of a huge show at Tokyo’s Budokan and fled to England, where he signed with Mickey Most’s RAK label. Thereafter, Merrill formed the teen phenomenon Arrows, scored a major ITV series and hit the British charts with ‘A Touch Too Much’ and ‘I Love Rock’n’roll’. It was at this time that Joan Jett, while on a British tour with The Runaways, saw the Arrows performance of Merrill’s song and decided she should record the anthem for herself.
Posted by gullcity, Feb 09, 2008
Posted by Viva Vivi, Jun 29, 2010
Posted by Viva Vivi, Jun 30, 2010
Vodka Collins reunions took place starting in 1990 with a short tour after the successful award winning reissue of their "Tokyo New York" album on CD, with original founding members Hiroshi Oguchi and Alan Merrill participating. Other players involved in this reunion were The Coconuts (Of Kid Creole), Robin LeMesurier, Donnie Kisselbach, and Shinohara Nobuhiko.
Five years later, in 1995 Vodka Collins reformed, for several years in fact, with a four piece lineup of Hiroshi Oguchi, Alan Merrill, Hiroshi Kamayatsu (ex-Spiders) and Masayoshi Kabe (ex-Golden Cups), recording the albums "Chemical Reaction" (1996), "Pink Soup" (1997), and "Boy's Life" (1998). In 2004 a best of Vodka Collins was released on Polystar Records titled "Boys In The Band."
Sadly, Drummer Hiroshi Oguchi died of cancer on January 27th, 2009.
There was a "Concert For Hiroshi" at Tokyo's Duo Music Exchange, January of 2010, with a videotaped and televised reunion of all former Vodka Collins band members on stage, including original bass player (now on guitar) Take Yokouchi, Masayoshi Kabe, Monsieur Kamayatsu, Alan Merrill, and Shinohara Nobuhiko. Filling in for the late Hiroshi Oguchi on drums was Grico, of the band Tensaw.
Posted by Viva Vivi, Jun 29, 2010