Sakevi Yokoyama – former frontman of Japanese punk metal band G.I.S.M. – has sadly died. The band’s label, Beast Arts Records, confirmed the news earlier today, September 2nd, noting that Yokoyama “passed away peacefully” on August 24th.
Relapse Records, who in recent years reissued the band’s music, posted the following tribute on their social media, “It is with deep sadness that we can formally report that Mr Sakevi Yokoyama has passed away. Working with Mr Sakevi on GISM is a chapter in the history of Relapse Records, unto itself. Honoring the work of a true sonic and artistic pioneer is a source of deep pride for us all. We pray for repose for Mr Sakevi’s soul.”
G.I.S.M. had become very popular within the global punk scene, primarily due to their distinctive fusion of heavy metal and hardcore punk. The band released their first album, ‘Detestation,’ in 1984, and followed that up with their 1987 studio effort, ‘M.A.N.’ Before breaking up in 2001, the group released their last record, ‘Sonicrime Therapy.’ The band lost their guitarist Randy Uchida in 2021, who sadly died of cancer. And just last year, the band’s drummer, Tohru “Monamour” Hiroshima, also passed away, though no cause of death was revealed at the time.
Rise Above Records owner Lee Dorrian (ex-Cathedral, ex-Napalm Death) posted his tribute to Yokoyama: “RIP Sakevi. What a legend. Heard so many stories about him in the 80s, via penfriends etc, which made him a near mythical character. Some of the stories were actually pretty wild, so it was hard to decipher fact from fiction. Anyway, back in 1993, I first had the pleasure of meeting him and was invited with a few others to his small apartment just outside of Tokyo city. That was a wild and fun night. He seemed to take great pleasure in getting us stoned, then subjecting us to some rather gruesome human dissection videos, lol.”
Dorrian added, “There’s no denying that G.I.S.M. were/are one of the most unique and original punk bands in history. Nobody sounded like them but many have tried. They were just way ahead of their time and their influence is a lot more than it simply appears to be on the surface. When I was invited to curate the 2016 edition of Roadburn, I aimed high and my initial list included bands that I thought would never agree due to obvious reasons. G.I.S.M. had never performed outside of Japan prior to this. It took a while to convince Sakevi to agree (I had to send him handwritten letters, as opposed to electronic), eventually he did but then I wasn’t even sure if he would make it out of Japan, due to his ‘supposed’ criminal record. Anyway, he did and it was a historical occasion for everyone involved.”