Homage to Minako – and New Golden Days


It’s a sad time for fans of Minako Honda. It’s the ten year anniversary of her tragic passing away [6 November 2005] … way way way too young.

Minako, of course, was an exquisite Japanese singer, whose style when she was young was a beguiling mixture of traditional Japanese influences, and modern Western Pop.

She became hugely successful in her own country, and was well loved by her fans. I met her when she was already a star, but still young enough to have to be chaperoned when she travelled to another country. Somehow the idea came up for me to write her two songs and record them in both English and Japanese. I wrote, very quickly, Golden Days and Crazy Nights (not the Kiss song which emerged a few years later). I sent her my demos, and it was arranged for her to come to London to record them. It was a time when we as Queen were going through a time of ‘being distant’ with each other, and I plunged into different recording projects. I recorded the Bad News album with those amazing comedy guys, Rick Mayall, Nigel Planer, Ade Edmondson (all famous from The Young Ones comedy series) and Peter Richardson (the creator of the Comic Strip TV Series. I was also working with an artist called Anita Dobson – on a new album for which I also wrote some new songs. She was to become pretty important in my life ! And suddenly, there was little Minako, energetic, charming, and disarmingly professional for someone so young. We romped through the songs in Japanese – she had everything prepared and never put a foot wrong. The English versions were much more difficult. Minako came from a family that spoke no English, and she simply did not have the Western consonant sounds at her command. We had an interpreter, of course, but the more Minako applied herself to the rhythm of the English language the harder it seemed for her. Her manager was determined that she would shine as much in English as in Japanese, and I think poor Minako felt a lot of pressure. She would not give up, even though there were tears (which made me feel terrible!). In the end we stitched together pretty good English versions of both songs, but really, to hear Minako Honda at her cheeky ebullient best, you have to listen to the Japanese versions.

There’s a live TV version of ‘Days’ here (not the record, and not with me, but quite faithfully rendered!) and in it she bravely sings in both languages.

Minako Honda - Golden Days
Golden Days – https://youtu.be/5GWRZSlCCxs

The songs did quite well in Japan, but visibility in Britain, which had been the whole object of the project, was much more elusive. So, sadly, very few people in the UK are familiar with our work together. Only the devoted fans.

Well, these days I have the good fortune to work with Kerry Ellis in the studio. From time to time, I open some of the old drawers and we look for material from the past that might have a new life. Kerry picked up on Golden Days a few weeks ago, and got attached to the song, so we determined to make a new version of it. It’s taken shape quickly, and Kerry, of course, gives it a luminous new life. I’ve revisited the arrangement too, but a lot of the original feel is still there. So this will be one of the tracks on the album we’re building. Right now it’s sounding like a lovely tribute to dear Minako. We began by getting out the old multitrack, with Minako’s voice clear and beautiful as the day we recorded her. It’s great how music can make the years melt away. We’ll have to get it ready soon, so you can all share this feeling.

It’s odd, because there are parallels between Minako and Kerry. They both have that fierce passion and devotion for their art, both have exceptional voices, matched by an unstoppable determination to make their talents blossom to the full. And both, as well as recording careers, devoted a lot of their lives to starring in Musical Theatre. In fact, they even have long service to Miss Saigon in common. So, when ANTHEMS II makes it on to the streets, little Minako Honda will be anything but forgotten.

Cheers all


Minako and Bri 1987
Minako and Bri 1987
Kerry and Bri 2015
Kerry and Bri 2015

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