In 1961, beloved Japanese singer and actor Kyu Sakamoto topped the charts in Japan with his hit song Ue O Muite Aruko. The song would become an international hit, and one of the best selling songs of all-time. In 1962, British Pye Records executive Louis Benjamin heard the song while in Japan, and he enlisted the band Kenny Ball & his Jazzmen to record the song as an instrumental. Benjamin re-named the song Sukiyaki - named after his favorite Japanese meal. The song hit #10 on the UK charts. The following year a US disc jockey who had heard the song obtained the original Sakamoto version, which he began to play on the radio using the title Sukiyaki. The song became so popular that Capital Records obtained the US rights and released an American pressing of the song - it soon topped the US Hot 100 and the Adult Contemporary charts, staying at #1 for several weeks. In 1963, US country singer Clyde Beavers released a less successful first version with English lyrics. FFW to 1981 - the song was back on the US Charts again when disco group A Taste of Honey released a version with their own alternate lyrics, hitting #3 on the Hot 100 and #1 on the Adult Contemporary. The song charted again in the US in 1994 when R&B group 4 P.M. hit #5 on the Top 40 with their version of the song. Sukiyaki is the only American #1 hit song ever with Japanese lyrics, or recorded by a Japanese singer. In 1985, rapper Slick Rick famously borrowed the first verse of the song in the chorus of his classic hit La-Di-Da-Di, featuring Doug E. Fresh. The song had originally been recorded with a sample from the A Taste of Honey cover, but the sample wasn't cleared so the part was crudely sung on the officially released single. The day before Slick Rick officially released La-Di-Da-Di, 43-year old Kyu Sakamoto was one of 520 people that died in the tragic August 12th crash of Japan Air Lines flight 123. Four people survived the crash - it was the deadliest airplane crash in history.
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