Kanako rock 'n' roll - 7th Ave. Yokohama. Photo (c) C. GRAY
Kanako rock ‘n’ roll – 7th Ave. Yokohama. Photo (c) C. GRAY

I have long been a fan of Kanako Nakayama – who is every bit as rock ‘n’ roll as Joan Jett. She is the real deal, and for the better part of almost twenty years has fronted her own band, the amazing VooDoo Hawaiians, a band whom I big fan of. In the 1980s, Kanako Nakayama was guitar player with all girl band Princess Princess, one of the biggest bands in Japan of that decade.


Before I rabbit on about VooDoo Hawaiians, let me provide some background /context. Princess Princess formed in 1983, and in the late 1980s / early 90s were one of, if not the biggest, pop rock band in Japan. Their seventh single, ‘Diamonds’, went to No. 1 in 1989 and was the first CD single to become a million seller in Japan. With the single, Princess Princess joined the ranks of Japan’s top musical artists. More number one singles and albums followed – with all their albums released from 89 to 93 rising to Number one on the Japanese (Orion) charts. The band split by 96, yet reformed in late 2012 to perform several fundraising concerts for the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami. This included concerts at the Sendai Sun Plaza Hall, Budokan in Tokyo and Tokyo Dome. Big venues – which gives you an idea of the stature of Princess Princess and the high regard in which they are held.

2020After the breakup of Princess Princess, Kanako Nakayama released two great solo albums ‘Howling’ and ‘Nakayama no Ippatsu’. Both albums are worthy of your attention and tracking down. She also broadened her appeal to a wider audience when she collaborated with Redd Kross on a cover of KISS’ ‘Hard Luck Woman’, a tune recorded for the 1998 Japanese Tribute album ‘Kiss Tribute in Japan.’ In 1999, Kanako formed the hard rock group VooDoo Hawaiians, a band who first came onto my radar in 2001. Kevin K played a show at Club 251 in Shimokitizaza in 2001 – and VooDoo Hawaiians were also on the bill, along with Blacklist (Gaku Tori), and Sheena Ayukawa (RIP) of Sheena & the Roketts.

Over the years, Voodoo Hawaiians have contributed songs to a range of compilation/ tribute albums (including one for Hanoi Rocks) and released half a dozen albums all worthy of your attention. “Pretty And Brutal” in 2000, “Rock ‘n Roll Animal” in 2001, “Drive, She Said” in 2002, “4our” in 2006, “Love And Roll” in 2014 and 2015’s “Are You Comin To the Parade ”? She has also performed with the group Tokyo Rocks and on a number of tribute albums in the late 1990s into the 2000s. She did a pretty cool version of ‘Hoochy Coochy Brown Eye Rose’ some years back’ and this, like a lot of their other material is available on You Tube for you to dig into and explore.

I saw Voodoo Hawaiians at 7th Avenue in Yokohama just before Christmas last year, and it was a kick arse gig. 7th Avenue is a small, but authentic rock club and has been one of the best rock venues in Yokohama for many many years.  Mr Rockbrat and I first saw Kevin K here in December 1998 – so it was a little strange to be back at the same venue 18 years after I first set foot in there.   Voodoo Hawaiians are incessantly on the road throughout Japan,  and have played some shows in the US some years back.

I encourage you to check out their web site at Voodoo Hawaiians and to pick up some of their excellent albums. Kanako Nakayama also has a web site you can explore. All cool. Recommended by Cowboy Col.



One thought on “Rockbrat Introduces You To: KANAKO NAKAYAMA & VOODOO HAWAIIANS

  1. Excellent written article in excellent written detail.

    Wow that’s so cool that 7th Avenue is still around. What a great club to play.
    Played there with Kevin K. on our first Japanese tour of Japan in late May 1998. Kevin and I played a short acoustic tour of a few cites. Northen Japan Chitose City ( afternoon and evening show) • 7th Avenue (Yokohama) • Sama Sama (Tokyo) followed by recording a 7″ inch single with The Golden Arms featuring Hiroshi Nakagome ( The Japanese Johnny Thunders) called ” Tokyo Rocks”.

    Vicious Kitten was such an ultra cool zine from Australia. You should create a Vicious Kitten Facebook page.

    Cheers !!!!!

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