X JAPAN bassist Hiroshi "Heath" Morie died on October 29 after a battle with colorectal cancer, the band has revealed. He was 55 years old.
Heath joined X JAPAN in 1992 and played on the 1993 album "Art Of Life" and 1996's "Dahlia". After breaking up in 1997, the band reunited in 2007 and performed the following year, playing three nights at the Tokyo Dome.
On Friday (November 17),X JAPAN released the following statement: "It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of X JAPAN's esteemed bass player Heath after his battle with colorectal cancer, on October 29th, 2023, at the age of 55.
"His cancer was found during an examination in June of this year. Despite his efforts to battle the disease, his condition declined suddenly in October, and he took his last breath in the hospital.
"We would like to express our heartfelt gratitude to those who cherished Heath throughout his lifetime.
"We, the members of X JAPAN have personally bid farewell to Heath, but are still deeply saddened and dismayed by his sudden loss. Individual tributes from X JAPAN members will be shared on Heath's official website at www.heathproject.com.
"Heath's obituary was originally scheduled for release later in November in accordance with his family's wishes, but it is being announced earlier due to unwarranted media coverage. The funeral will be held among immediate family members only. The family asks that any visits, donations or flowers be withheld. The date of the funeral will remain undisclosed. We appreciate your understanding.
"A formal farewell ceremony for Heath will be arranged at a later date. That ceremony will be led by X JAPAN leader Yoshiki in accordance with Heath's wishes as conveyed by his family.
"X JAPAN extends our love and prayers to Heath and would like to thank everyone who has supported him."
X JAPAN leader Yoshiki reflected on Heath's death in a statement on his social media, writing: "I am still at a loss for words at this heartbreaking news. I am confused as to whether I should be writing this message as Yoshiki or as the leader of X JAPAN.
"I received the news about Heath's passing right after a performance and event in New York. I flew immediately to Tokyo to say farewell to him.
"Heath joined X JAPAN in 1992 through an introduction by Hide. The announcement that he joined the band was made at Rockefeller Center in New York, our first concert together was at Tokyo Dome, and our first TV performance was NHK's year-end Kohaku Utagassen. Despite having to jump in during such high-profile events and the pressure he must have felt, Heath always gave it his all as a phenomenal bass player.
"After our band reunited, we went on a world tour in the U.S, Europe, South America and Asia. When I suggested Heath to play bass together with Taiji in what became the latter's final show, he happily accepted. He was such a wonderful bass player, a band member, and a wonderful human being.
"Heath and I got closer than ever over this past year. On my birthday last year, he appeared as a guest on my program, and we talked endlessly afterwards in my dressing room. There was also a time after that when we talked on the phone for hours until daybreak.
"This summer, on August 20th, Heath performed as a guest at my dinner show. How could I have known that that would be my last performance with him?
"I couldn't help make Heath's wishes come true, and for that I feel fully responsible. I apologized to him when I bid farewell.
"Speaking as Yoshiki personally, I am so mentally and physically drained, so drenched in sorrow, that I don't know what to say right now. I feel that if I stop now, I won't be able to go any further, so I'm immersing myself in my busy schedule. But as the leader of the band, there are still some things that I must do. Heath's family conveyed his words to me: 'Don't be sad,' he said. 'Cheer up, and say goodbye to me with a smile.' Heath also requested that I, Yoshiki, be in charge of his memorial concert. I will discuss this further with his family to make sure that that is accomplished. There are also several things I need to fight for in order to make that happen.
"My story with Heath keeps going on and on. I wish I knew how to express the depth of my feelings here, but first I need to learn how to live with this profound loss. I will have more to say in the future.
"Thank you for everything, Heath. And may you rest in peace. I hope that someday we can play music together again."
X JAPAN vocalist Toshi said: "I simply can’t put words to my feelings at this time. Heath, thank you, with all my heart."
X JAPAN guitarist Pata wrote: "Such unfathomable misfortune. I've always wanted to keep playing with you. I'll keep going for a little while yet, so please watch over me. For now, rest in peace."
X JAPAN guitarist and violinist Sugizo said: "My treasured brother, Heath. I can't believe it. That you'd been fighting this whole time. That you're gone just like that. It just tears my heart apart. It's been 32 years since we met as fellow musicians. 15 years since we played together as a band. The time we spent together still shines brilliantly in my memories. I wanted to stand next to you on stage again. And see what the world would bring us next. You were the most stoic, ironclad, and solitary bassist I had ever known. I only felt respect for you. My treasured brother, Heath. I'll never forget the time we stood on stage together, a year ago. Thank you, truly, for all your hard work. For all your service. May you rest in peace. Let's make some noise together again, some day on the other side."
Upon hearing news of Heath's passing, Yoshiki canceled his scheduled November 1 appearance at the 37th "Award Of Honor" gala in San Francisco due to what was described at the time as "an unexpected loss in the family."
X JAPAN, one of the most successful rock groups in Japanese history, released its first new single in eight years, "Angel", in July.
X JAPAN has achieved legendary status among rock fans worldwide, making a buzz at Coachella, headlining major venues such as Wembley Arena and Madison Square Garden, and selling out Japan's 55,000-seat Tokyo Dome a record 18 times.
Prior to the arrival of "Angel", the last single from X JAPAN was 2015's "Born To Be Free", and the critically acclaimed documentary film about the band, "We Are X", was released in 2018 in 30 countries, winning awards at the SXSW and Sundance film festivals.
Recently, X JAPAN became the center of controversy when Elon Musk announced he was rebranding Japanese Twitter as "X Japan", causing fans across the globe to respond in support of the band's trademark and supporting them as the country's only true "X JAPAN".
X JAPAN has sold more than 30 million albums, singles, and videos combined and played to millions of fans around the world.
In 1997, at the height of their success, the band broke up. In early 2007, Yoshiki and vocalist Toshi reunited, and later that year X JAPAN officially reformed.
The band launched its reunion in 2008 with three nights at the Tokyo Dome. In 2010, X JAPAN performed for the first time at Lollapalooza in Chicago. Immediately following the festival, X JAPAN played the biggest concert in its history, selling out two consecutive shows at Japan's Nissan Stadium, filling 140,000 seats. The band then launched their first North American tour, selling out across the U.S. and Canada.
X JAPAN made their Coachella debut in 2018, and the band performed three sold-out concerts at Makuhari Messe in September 2018 for 100,000 fans.