The Yomiuri ShimbunJohnny Kitagawa, one of the most influential figures in Japanese show business and president of Johnny & Associates, has died at the age of 87. His company is known for producing a number of boy idol groups, including SMAP and ARASHI.
Kitagawa, whose real name was Hiromu Kitagawa, died Tuesday afternoon due to subarachnoid bleeding.
Hailing from Los Angeles, he developed connections in the Japanese entertainment industry after the end of World War II through involvement in U.S. performances by such Japanese artists as Hibari Misora, and moved to Japan.
In 1962, he established a boy idol group called Johnnys, using members of a baseball team he was instructing, which debuted in 1964, before forming the current talent agency.
Over the next 50-plus years, Kitagawa produced a number of groups including Four Leaves, SHONENTAI and TOKIO as well as such hot heartthrobs as Hiromi Go, Toshihiko Tahara and Masahiko Kondo.
In 2011, Kitagawa was recognized in the Guinness Book of World Records for “the most No. 1 singles produced by an individual.”