Kyōhei Tsutsumi (筒美 京平, Tsutsumi Kyouhei) (born Eikichi Watanabe, May 28, 1940), is a Japanese composer, record producer and arranger.
Tsutsumi began his career as a songwriter circa 1966, and he came to prominence as a composer of Ayumi Ishida's chart-topping hit "Blue Light Yokohama" in the late 1960s. He has released nearly 3,000 compositions to date, over 500 of which have entered the Japanese Oricon singles chart. Tsutsumi is the most commercially successful composer of the Japanese popular music of last five decades, selling over 76 million units on the country's single chart from 1968 onwards.
Two of his compositions won the grand prix of Japan Record Award-- "Mata Au Hi Made" performed by Kiyohiko Ozaki in 1971 and "Miserarete" by Judy Ongg in 1979. Tsutsumi himself has also won the awards for best songwriting category for five times. Recognized for his long-term contribution to establish Japanese popular music, Tsutsumi received the Medal of Honor with Purple Ribbon by the Government of Japan in November 2003.
Eikichi Watanabe (渡辺 栄吉, Watanabe Eikichi) was born on May 28, 1940 in Ushigome, Tokyo City, now part of Shinjuku Ward. He was a student of Aoyama Gakuin, one of the most prestigious educational institutes in Japan. Watanabe learned piano when he was in kindergarten, and joined the college's jazz club in his teen years. After graduating from University, Watanabe worked as a director of Nippon Grammophone, a Japanese record label in which later changed its name to Polydor Japan and now owned by Universal Music Group. Tadataka Watanabe, his younger brother, became a record executive too, who has been chief producer of Warner Music Japan and well known as a discoverer of multi-million selling folk-rock duo Kobukuro.
On the suggestion of a composer Jun Hashimoto, his senior graduate of University, Watanabe began his songwriting career under the pen name Kyohei Tsutsumi. "Kiiroi Lemon", his first recorded compositions co-written by Hashimoto and sung by then-unknown Masato Shimon (using stage name Kōichi Fuji), was issued as a single in 1966. However, it was initially released as a work composed by Kōichi Sugiyama, and Tsutsumi's name was not credit on the original pressing of the record.
Tsutsumi's first hit, "Barairo no Kumo", was performed by the Village Singers and released as a single in 1967. He rose to fame in 1969, after release of "Blue Light Yokohama" recorded by singer and actress Ayumi Ishida. It was released as a single on Christmas Day of 1968 and topped the Japanese Oricon sales chart in the following year, becoming the fifth record to have sold over 1 million copies since the chart started counting sales in 1968. As a composer of the song, Tsutsumi won the 11th Japan Record Awards for the best songwriting category on December 31, 1969.
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