Ryuichi Sakamoto has died

The renowned composer and producer has passed away aged 71.

News of Ryuichi Sakamoto‘s death was confirmed on the musician’s official Twitter page earlier today (2 April). The post revealed that he passed away last week on 28 March. In an additional statement, the pioneering Japanese composer’s management team Commons said: “we are deeply saddened to announce the passing of artist and musician Ryuichi Sakamoto”.

In 2021 Sakamoto was diagnosed with cancer for a second time. “While undergoing treatment for cancer discovered in June 2020, Sakamoto continued to create works in his home studio whenever his health would allow,” the Commmons statement continued. “He lived with music until the very end. We would like to express our deepest gratitude to his fans and all those who have supported his activities, as well as the medical professionals in Japan and the U.S. who did everything in their power to cure him. In accordance with Sakamoto’s strong wishes, the funeral service was held among his close family members.”

Concluding the statement, Commons wrote: “Finally, we would like to share one of Sakamoto’s favourite quotes: “Ars longa, vita brevis.”/ Art is long, life is short.”

Sakamoto was renowned for both his solo work and for co-founding the Yellow Magic Orchestra alongside Haruomi Hosono and the late Yukihiro Takahashi – who passed away earlier this year. Born in 1952, Sakamoto took up piano from an early age and over the course of his creative career was a pioneer within electronic and ambient music. Additionally, he composed the soundtrack for films such as The Last Emperor and The Revenant as well as 1983’s Merry Christmas, Mr Laurence in which he also starred in alongside David Bowie.

In 2014, Sakamoto was first diagnosed with throat cancer. Following treatment, he returned to making music and continued to work on music. Following his second diagnosis in 2021, Sakamoto wrote in a statement, “from now on, I will be living alongside cancer. But, I am hoping to make music for a little while longer.” Earlier this year he released his last album 12 – which was recorded in 2021 and 2022. A Tribute to Ryuichi Sakamoto: To The Moon and Back was also released last November to mark the musician’s 70th birthday and features reworked versions of his music by artists including Thundercat, Devonté Hynes, Alva Noto and David Sylvian.

Read a selection of tributes to the late artist and musician below.