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Johnny Kitagawa, record-breaking producer for 'most number one hits', dies aged 87

Between the years of 1974 and 2010, Kitagawa was responsible for 232 number one singles.

A passer-by watches a TV news reporting Johnny Kitagawa's death
A passer-by watches a TV news reporting Johnny Kitagawa's death
Image: PA Images

JOHNNY KITAGAWA, ONE of the most influential figures in Japan’s entertainment industry, had died aged 87.

Kitagawa founded the agency Johnny & Associates, who through the years have produced famous boy bands including Arashi and SMAP. 

Johnny & Associates confirmed that Kitagawa died from a subarachnoid hemorrhage yesterday at a Tokyo hospital.

Kitagawa had been receiving treatment at the hospital since he fell unconscious on 18 June.

He had spent his final days with his artists and trainees, who he had called his “children”. 

“His final curtain came down with him wrapped in the love of his beloved children,” the BBC reported a statement from his office said.

Between the years of 1974 and 2010, Kitagawa was responsible for 232 number one singles, according to the BBC. 

The music mogul held three Guinness World Records for the most number one singles, the most number one artists and the most concerts produced by an individual. 

Born in Los Angeles, Kitagawa spent his early childhood in Japan before and during World War II, and later grew up in the US before returning to Japan after the Korean War.

Kitagawa established his office in 1962, spearheading Japan’s entertainment scene and sending many artists to fame.

His long career had not been without controversy, however. 

The Japan Times reported that Kitagawa had been subject to numerous allegations of sexual misconduct through the years. It reported that in 1999, a Japanese weekly magazine published a series detailing accusations of child abuse and sexual exploitation made by several boys under his wing.

He was never charged with crimes on the basis of the allegations.

Kitagawa sued the magazine and was awarded damages. However, the judgement was partially overturned on appeal after the court ruled the magazine had sufficient reason to publish the allegations. 

Includes reporting by Associated Press

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