Japanese musician Akio Sakurai channels spirit of legendary Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Web page
Dowd found Sakurai on YouTube performing The Rain Music and was immediately awed at how precisely Sakurai copied Led Zeppelin’s August 4, 1979, efficiency on the Knebworth Competition.
“I assumed, this isn’t a tribute man. That is an artist and somebody with a narrative. This can be a film,” Dowd mentioned.
Since 1994, Sakurai performed together with his band Mr. Jimmy in small venues in Japan. Then in 2012, the actual Jimmy Web page, in Japan to advertise his movie Celebration Day, dropped into the Gigabar membership in Tokyo to catch Sakurai’s efficiency.
“I didn’t imagine he would come,” Sakurai mentioned. “I figured he have to be drained as a result of he simply arrived from the UK However I acquired a name from his assistant. He mentioned, ‘He nonetheless desires to go. Might you wait to begin to play?’ And I mentioned ‘In fact, I’ll wait.’”
Sakurai modified the set checklist that night time and selected to carry out 1973-era Led Zeppelin.
“I assumed he would wish to hear his finest period. All of the Zeppelin core followers know his taking part in type modified with every period and annually. Typically superb, typically magical, typically not pretty much as good, however nonetheless followers love to listen to these variations.”
In keeping with Sakurai, Web page was impressed: “He mentioned to me after the present, ‘You’re taking me again to that point. You remind me what I did on the stage.’”
That was the second Sakurai’s spouse, Junko, informed him he wanted to go to america to pursue his desires or he can be caught taking part in weekend gigs in Japan for the remainder of his life.
By the point Dowd started documenting Sakurai’s story, Sakurai had give up his secure wage-earning job at a kimono producer and moved to america to affix Los Angeles-based tribute band Led Zepagain.
“In Japan, I couldn’t discover different musicians who had the identical concepts and keenness as I did. A lot of my Japanese buddies mentioned, ‘You don’t must take it that far. Nobody is listening that carefully.’ However I knew I couldn’t obtain what I wish to alone, except I discovered a drummer, bassist and singer who analysis and examine Led Zeppelin as a lot I do.” Sakurai mentioned. “My spouse may really feel my frustration.”
Junko stayed behind in Tokyo, however continues to assist her husband from afar. She seems within the movie, learning pictures and video of Led Zeppelin and tailoring her husband’s costumes in response to his fastidious calls for.
Whereas Sakurai’s exact consideration to element and skilful mimicry is admirable, is he actually providing followers what they actually need? That turns into some extent of rivalry amongst his Zepagain bandmates and a key focus of Dowd’s movie.
I typically really feel like I’m there seeing the most effective band that ever was at their absolute peak
Zepagain is a tribute band, however Sakurai has a imaginative and prescient for turning into a ‘revival’ band, one that enables for Web page-like prolonged jams somewhat than four-minute covers.
“Everyone seems to be telling him, Jimmy, do a jukebox present. Do less complicated variations of the hits,” Dowd mentioned.
For the movie’s director, who was born in 1976 and by no means acquired an opportunity to see Led Zeppelin reside, it’s magical. “When [Sakurai] places collectively a present, if it’s a 1970 present, whether it is reside on Blueberry Hill, and he places on that Hiwatt amplifier with the fingering and phrasing, and the costumes and motion and power, I typically really feel like I’m there seeing the most effective band that ever was at their absolute peak. That’s one thing very particular.”
Sakurai equates what he does to an actor. He is aware of he’s inhabiting a job and making a illustration for the viewers to briefly droop their disbelief by taking them right into a fictional world.
“I contemplate what I do to be a revival band,” Sakurai mentioned. “It’s like [what Steven] Spielberg did with dinosaurs in Jurassic Park.”