In 1966, the Beatles toured the far east. The Japanese started to form bands that adopted the same line-up – drums, bass, lead guitar and a John Lennon figure doubling up on rhythm guitar and keyboards – all squeezed into tight suits singing three-part vocal harmonies. The genre, known as group sounds, would inspire countless garage rock curios, with 45s by the Tigers and the Tempters now selling for three-figure sums.Much like the old Hollywood studio contract system, the GS bands were tightly controlled by their producers. Watanabe Productions, one of the most powerful talent agencies in Japan, held its artists (including the Tigers, who were the biggest name in GS at the time) under iron-clad, long-term contracts. There were rumors circulating at the time that, despite the fact that the Tigers were earning at least a million dollars a year in income, Watanabe Productions had the boys on a monthly salary of $300 per person, plus expenses. Carnabeats drummer Ai Takano spoke in a recent interview about how he had to visit the house of Jaguars vocalist Shin Okamoto in secret, because the Carnabeats’ management considered other groups to be rivals, and forbade them from becoming friendly with each other. The Spiders were one successful band who broke away from this system by forming their own management company, Spiduction, and signed up other bands, some of which—i.e. the Tempters—were very successful in their own right.

Sukisa Sukisa Sukisa – The CarnaBeats (1967)

the carnabeat - sukisa sukisa

Koi wo shiyoyo Jenny – The CarnaBeats (1968)

the carnabeats - koi wo shiyoyo jenny

Emerald No Densetsu – The Tempters (1968)

The tempters - emerald no Densetsu

Ano Toki Kimi wa Waka Katta – The Spiders (1968)

the spiders - Ano Toki Kimi wa Waka Katta

Hana no Kubikazari – The Tigers (1968)

the tigers - hana no kubikazari

Omoide No Nagisa – The Wild Ones (1966)

the wild ones - omoide nagisa

Yuhi wa Akaku – Yuzo Kayama (1966)

kayama yuzo - Yuhi wa Akaku

Kimi ni Aitai – The Jaguars (1967)

the jaguars - Kimi ni aitai

Swan No Namida – Ox (1968)

ox - swan no nami

Kemeko No Uta – The Darts (1968)

the darts - kemeko no uta