The Spiders were formed in Japan in 1961 by drummer Shochi Tanabe and originally played a mix of Jazz, Country & Western and traditional Japanese music in clubs and at US Army bases.
Hiroshi “Monsieur” Kamayatsu (who had previously enjoyed a modicum of solo success in Japan as a Country & Western singer) initially provided the vocals, while the rest of the band line-up remained fluid throughout 1962 and 1963.
By 1964, with handsome teenager Jun Inoue now on-board as lead vocalist, The Spiders turned their attention to British Beat music, changing their musical direction and recording their first single (a surf instrumental) in November.
In January the following year, they were chosen as the opening act for The Astronauts and The Ventures during their Japanese appearances, and in April they backed Peter and Gordon.
Elsewhere in 1965, they supported The Animals, The Honeycombs and The Beach Boys during their Japanese tours.
The Spiders were also offered the support slot for The Beatles in 1966 but turned it down as they had been often criticised in Japan for simply being Beatles-imitators.
The Spiders became popular guests on Japanese television and radio shows, and their popular ‘Tokyo Sound’ eventually earned them a recording contract with Philips, resulting in the release of their debut album (cunningly entitled Album No.1) in April 1966. All tracks on the LP were original compositions, cementing their place as Japan’s premier beat band.
One month later they also released an album of cover versions of songs by The Beatles, The Animals and Chuck Berry, entitled Spiders Album 2. Philips released the records in Europe and in Australia, and the band toured Europe in October and November.
They appeared on European radio and TV programs, played at the Star Club in Hamburg, and appeared on Ready, Steady, Go! playing Sad Sunset and Boom Boom.
In January 1967 The Spiders released their third album – half of the songs were originals (including a track called Narebaii – arguably the first Japanese psychedelic song), and in March they released a single called Taiyou no Tubasa – one of first singles to feature a fuzzbox. They also played in Hawaii in June, but this was unfortunately to be the only opportunity the band ever had to play on American soil.
Further successful domestic singles followed and The Spiders began to appear in movies (including five of their own), but by 1969 the Beat Boom in Japan was over. Founding member Shochi Tanabe quit the band and moved into management. By January 1971 The Spiders were no more.
Jun Inoue, Masaaki Sakai and Kamayatsu became solo artists, while Takayuki Inoue and Katuo Ono joined a new band called PYG.
Hiroshi “Monsieur” Kamayatsu