Kozo Suganuma, drummer for one of the most popular fusion bands in Japan, FRAGILE and a former member of DED CHAPLIN (featuring LOUDNESS singer Minoru Niihara), has been tapped to fill in for LOUDNESS drummer Munetaka Higuchi for the latter group's previously announced Japanese dates.
Higuchi was hospitalized on April 7 and is currently undergoing treatment for liver cancer.
Commented Kozo: "I think everyone already knows about these unfortunate news. Mr. Munetaka Higuchi from LOUDNESS has been diagnosed with cancer and he is fighting with this illness. I feel very sad as a fellow drummer and as a friend.
"Recently, I received a call from Minoru Niihara (DED CHAPLIN's vocalist and my former bandmate), who told me about the sad news. After I heard the news, I decided to take over his work. I cancelled most of my previous commitments.
"It is not easy to take over such a great band that creates Japanese metal music history. Also, I haven't had enough time to do rehearsals. However, I wanted to do something for my friend. It was a very difficult decision for me. I hope all of the LOUDNESS fans understand the situation."
Minoru Niihara's official statement regarding Higuchi's battle with cancer reads as follows:
"I have an important announcement to make to all our fans. On April 7th, our drummer, Munetaka Higuchi was hopitalized for a check-up on his liver and after all the tests, he was diagnosed with Hepatocellular Carcinoma.
"In order to receive treatment and fight this disease, he will be on sabbatical for the time being. It was his strong desire to come out and tell all of you about his illness since he appreciates your love and support and believes he will prevail and come back to play again. We appreciate your understanding and support through this hard time.
"As for our scheduled live performances in Tokyo, Nagoya, and Osaka, after much consideration, we have decided to replace Munetaka and carry them out as scheduled.
"We apologize for any inconvenience and disappointment this would cause and again appreciate your understanding and cooperation."
LOUDNESS' latest album, "Metal Mad", was released in Japan on February 20 through Tokuma Communications. Release dates for other territories have not yet been announced.
Upcoming LOUDNESS shows:
April 22 - Tokyo (Shibuya) - Club Quattro
April 25 - Nagoya - Club Quattro
April 26 - Osaka - Club Quattro
Kozo Suganuma drum clinic in Singapore, August 2007: