Mikio Fujioka, a guitarist for the Japanese band Babymetal, has died at age 36.
According to his wife, Fujioka died on January 5th, six days after he fell from the observation deck of an astronomical observatory, “surrounded by members of his family.” On January 9th, Babymetal shared a post on its social media saying, “The “Little” Guitar Kami of #BABYMETAL ‘s #Kamiband has passed away in the METAL GALAXIES. We hope that he is now with his GUITAR MASTER A.Holdsworth and enjoying an epic guitar session with him.”
Ever since Babymetal released their debut in 2014, the band has been controversial. The band mixes elements of Japanese idol music, a genre of pop music with young singers selected by talent agencies for their cuteness, with heavy metal. Three young female idols (nicknamed “Su-metal”, “Yuimetal”, and “Moametal,”) head the band, with an instrumental backing band (called the “Kami Band”) to carry the bass line.
While their new take on the metal genre made them popular, it also earned them critics who didn’t believe that their style was “real” or “pure” metal. Nevertheless, the band is beloved by metal musicians themselves, and they’ve been called on to headline shows from Metallica to Slayer to Limp Bizkit.
Mikio was an acclaimed guitarist who graduated from the Musicians Institute of Osaka in 2000 at 19. He had been touring with Babymetal as part of the Kami band since 2013, and he played with them when they performed an opening act for the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Guns N’ Roses last year.
In addition to his band career, he also put out several of his own albums and toured with other bands Trick Box and MM. He, along with several other members of Kami Band, had put together their own album last April, featuring their signature heavy-metal sound with guest musicians and a mixture of genres.
Babymetal finished off their social media tribute to Mikio with lyrics from their song “The One”: “We are the one / Together / We’re the only one / You are the one / Forever#RIP #THEONE.”
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