The Golden Cups

Golden Cups, TheFrom: Yokohama, Japan

The Golden Cups were a Japanese pop/rock band who recorded a number of covers and were one of the top bands that performed in the Group Sounds scene in the late 1960s. The band formed in 1966 and was originally made up of Takimune “Dave” Hirao (vocals), Eddie Ban (guitar), Kenneth Ito (guitar), Massayishi “Louis” Kabe (bass), and Mamoru Manu (drums).

Hirao had previously been in a local band the Sphinx. Hirao had recently travelled to the U.S., as had Ban, and returned to Japan with one of the first fuzzboxes in the country. The Golden Cups were initially called Group & I, and were influenced by the rock & roll music broadcast on the Far East Network from the local U.S. Army base at Honmoku.

The band began playing sets that were made up of American pop/rock classics, including “Hey Joe,” “Got My Mojo Workin’,” “I Feel Good,” and “A Whiter Shade Of Pale.” They went onto become the house band at the Golden Cup discotheque near the U.S. Army base, where they were persuaded to change their name to the Golden Cups. The band then held a regular place on the NHK-TV morning show, Young 720, and landed a record deal with the Capital label owned by Toshiba. “Itoshi No Jizabel” was the Golden Cups’ first single, released in June 1967. Their label restricted them to simple pop songs for the A-sides, allowing them freedom for the B-sides. The same restrictions applied to the Golden Cups’ live performances, where they were forced to play pop material, opposed to the heavy garage rock they preferred. In March 1968, the band released their first album, The Golden Cups Album. They also had their biggest pop hit with “Nagai Kami No Shoujo” (“Girl With Long Hair”) not too long after.

In mid-1968, Ito travelled to Hawaii and was not permitted a visa to return to Japan. Mickey Yoshino was brought in as his replacement, right before the Golden Cups recorded their second album, The Golden Cups Album, Vol. 2. The album again featured covers of American pop hits, as well as some more experimental pieces. The third album the Golden Cups released was a live recording, entitled Blues Message. On this album, the band performed covers of most of the Paul Butterfield Blues Band album East-West.

Eddie Ban left to form his own band in 1969, and Kabe took over as the guitarist. The Golden Cups would release such albums as Super Live Session, Recital, and Live Album With The Golden Cups. Over this period, the Golden Cups saw many personnel changes, with only Hirao and Kabe left from the original line-up. While performing in a club in Okinawa on New Years Eve 1971/72, the building caught fire and burned to the ground. All of the band’s equipment and possessions were destroyed, and although they were unharmed, they broke up immediately afterwards.

Artist information sources include: Wikipedia

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From the 1968 album The Golden Cups Album
Golden Cups Album, The

  • Hey Joe