A Super Drummer Appears! hr676

Hidemi Woods
4 min readMar 22, 2024

There used to be numerous kinds of music magazines at book stores in the mid-80’s when my partner and I moved to Tokyo to become professional musicians. Those magazines had classified ads on the last few pages to recruit band members. Among them, a magazine called ‘Player’ spared almost more than half the entire contents for the classified ads. In fact, my partner and I ran across each other through one of the ads in that magazine when I still lived in Kyoto.

One of the reasons why we came to Tokyo was that we had thought many good musicians would be found in Tokyo, which would enable us to form a band with professional quality in no time. Finding a good player had been extremely difficult when we played around the kyoto area. We recruited one after another who had never met our standard. In the end, we used a rhythm machine and sequencers in place of human members. It was the time when those gadgets had been just put on the market so that the technology was lamentably primitive. Machine troubles had been our norm in the gigs and we had bitterly learned the limitations of machine members.

Once we moved to Tokyo, we put as many classified ads as possible in the music magazines and met so many musicians. While we repeated test sessions with each candidate in the studio, we couldn’t find good enough members who matched our quest for the ones with high skill and a strong motivation to become professional. We gradually began to think that we had overestimated Tokyo.

On one of those days, we found Mr. Maejima. He was a highly motivated drummer of a bag of bones, who was refined and courteous, a dropout of college from passion for music as I was. In the studio session, he played accurately and delicately, who was the best drummer we had ever come across. He joined us as a band member instantly. We got along so well. We shared not only eagerness for success in music but also even hobbies, which made us closer. He invited us to his home where he lived with his parents. He gave me his old, first drum set that he had gotten by working part time so strenuously when he was a student, and came to my apartment with it to set it up for me. He also gave me a lot of gaming software that he had finished playing. The legendary film ‘Back to the Future’ was first known to us as his best picture. Together we ate out and even went to that famous theme park of the mouse, where I introduced him to the mouse as my band’s drummer. We were on good terms, that was quite rare for my partner and I who had no friends.

As for other members however, we continuously had no luck. We couldn’t find a bassist and a guitarist, and had to compromise with the temporary members to play for gigs and auditions. Those members played awfully in the studio for rehearsal and in the actual gigs. What irritated us most was they would make a big mistake at the important contest of all things and ruin our chance. On top of that, we were caught in a fight with the promoter of the gig who turned out to be a fraud. We were besieged with bad luck and our band had been in hot water for months.

Then at last, Mr. Maejima told us that he wanted to quit the band. My partner and I understood his feeling since a long predicament of the band added to our part time jobs for living had exhausted us as well. We were too dispirited to persuade him to stay. Nevertheless, it was so hard to see an unfailing partner leaving. A leaden heart by his leaving drove us to switch to recording our songs with synthesizers from playing them in a gig. In hindsight, it was a good decision that would work for us well.

A few years later, I received a letter from Mr. Maejima unexpectedly. It said that he had joined a new religious group and worked as a drummer of the group’s band. He suggested that I join it. While I should have felt happy for him, I felt sad instead. The fact that the mainstream of the music scene had no place for such a talented, motivated musician like Mr. Maejima. The reality that a would-be artist with good looks and no talent sold well and was adored. I knew that the world was unfair, but his letter made me realize it anew.

Decades have passed since then, and I have moved around several times. Still, I have a drum set that Mr. Maejima gave me. It’s on active service, only disassembled to components. They are used as containers in my apartment, holding my stuff including passion.