Ryuichi Sakamoto
Image: Joi Ito/Creative Commons

The legendary musician, actor, and composer Ryuichi Sakamoto has passed away aged 71. He had been previously diagnosed with throat cancer back in 2014 and had been receiving treatment for a secondary diagnosed cancer ever since 2020.

It may be somewhat trite, but it's hard to express in words just how much of an impact Sakamoto had on the wider music landscape. He initially gained international attention as one-third of Yellow Magic Orchestra, a pioneering electronic group whose music inspired generations of musicians, especially video game composers.

Sakamoto even contributed music to several video games himself over his decades-long career, including titles like Tengai Makyou: Ziria (the first game in the Far East of Eden series), L.O.L.: Lack of Love, Dawn of Mana, and Hohokum.

In addition to pop music and video games, Sakamoto was a respected actor and composer of films. In 1983, he played alongside David Bowie, in Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence, for which he also provided the emotional score. He later worked on a number of other films throughout his career as a composer, including Bernardo Bertolucci's 1987 picture The Last Emperor, for which he won the Oscar for Best Original Score, and Alejandro González Iñárritu's 2015 movie The Revenant.

In response to his death, his management team issued a statement on his website asking for privacy for his close family members and shared one of Sakamoto's favourite quotes: “Ars longa, art brevis. Art is long, life is short.”

Our thoughts are with his relatives and friends during this difficult time.