Heath, the longtime bassist for Japan’s most popular rock group X Japan, has died, the group confirmed today. He was 55 years old.
The musician died on October 29 of colorectal cancer, according to a statement from the group.
“It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of esteemed X Japan bassist Heath following his battle with colorectal cancer on October 29, 2023, at the age of 55,” the group said in a statement. “His cancer was found during a scan in June this year. Despite his efforts to fight the disease, his condition suddenly worsened in October and he breathed his last in hospital.
“We would like to express our sincere gratitude to those who cared for Heath during his life. We, the members of X Japan, personally say goodbye to Heath, but we are still deeply saddened and dismayed by his sudden loss.”
Formed in 1982, the members of X Japan became megastars in Asia with their 1989 second album. Blue blood. Heath joined the group in 1992 and played on their albums Art of life (1993) and Dahlia (1996), both topping the Japanese album charts. The group performed a sold-out farewell concert on New Year’s Eve 1997 in Tokyo before disbanding.
They formed again in 2007, and Heath played bass with the group until his death.
Born Hiroshi Morie on January 22, 1968, in Amagasaki, near Osaka, Heath pursued a solo career after the breakup of X Japan in the 1990s. After releasing his self-titled debut album in 1995, he recorded several more albums until 2009. Traitor (1997) reached the top 40 on the Japanese album chart and was followed by a couple or post-X Japan sets in 1998: Break yourself It is Gang-era Cubist.
In 2000, he formed Dope Headz with X Japan guitarist Pata and others. This group released four albums in a 16-month period between 2001 and 2002, all recorded in Japan.
Led by co-founder, drummer, pianist and composer Yoshiki, the group sells out arenas abroad, but – despite signing a recording contract with Atlantic Records in 1992 – has never had much success in the US.
X Japan’s evolution into glam-metal-pop superstars is filled with a backstory as dramatic as any international rock band. The group went through breakups and the deaths of three members while selling more than 30 million albums and singles worldwide. Their glam fashion and musical aesthetics influenced other bands and young people in the visual kei rock movement.
Heath and X Japan were featured in a 2016 documentary, We are X, directed by Stephen Kijak and produced by Looking for Sugar Man EPJohn Battsek.
The band made a big push in the US during the 2010s, signing a new deal with EMI Music in 2011. That same year, Yoshiki performed Yoshiki Radio, a weekly SiriusXM show that aired on Ozzy’s Boneyard channel and featured his favorite music while highlighting elements of Japanese pop culture. X Japan made its US debut on the 2010 Lollapalooza tour.
“Heath’s obituary was originally scheduled to be released in late November in accordance with his family’s wishes, but was announced earlier due to unwarranted media coverage,” the band’s statement added. “The funeral will only be held among immediate family members. The family asks that any visits, donations or flowers be withheld. The date of the funeral will remain unknown. We appreciate your understanding. A formal farewell ceremony for Heath will be arranged at a later date… in accordance with Heath’s wishes as conveyed by his family.”