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Boy-band producer Kitagawa, 87

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TOKYO — Johnny Kitagawa, one of the Japanese entertainment industry’s most powerful producers and the Guinness record-winning brain behind many of Japanese pop music’s most popular boy bands, such as SMAP, died on Tuesday at 87 after a stroke, his office said. Born in the United States as Hiromu Kitagawa, he came to Japan after serving in the US military in the Korean War and worked at the US Embassy before starting a musical group called Johnny’s and setting up a talent agency called Johnny & Associates in 1962. Over the years he honed a strategy of making sure the bands he created, after holding open casting calls to recruit and then train his musicians in singing and dancing, became cultural icons through a combination of appearances on television variety shows in addition to concerts and recording sales. This pattern, which gave birth to groups such as SMAP, Arashi and Kinki Kids, among many others, is also widely followed in Korea’s mammoth K-pop industry. Kitagawa won three Guinness World Records for his phenomenal production experience, including the most #1 singles and most concerts produced by any one individual. — Reuters

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