Taiji Sawada 沢田 泰司 (July 6, 1966 – July 17, 2011)
Taiji was born in Ichigawa, Chiba Prefecture. He first tried to play his dad’s guitar when he was in junior high school and was mostly inspired by western music, namely Queen and The Beatles. He dropped out of school in 1984 when he was 16 to form his first band called Trash and was their front man and lead guitarist. Two years later he switched to playing bass and joined the band Dementia. It was during this period that he met hide (intentional lower case 'h'; birth name Hideto Matsumoto); later they both were in X (also known as X Japan to differentiate them from the American band) which became Taiji’s most popular and well known band.
Taiji played several shows with X before joining their band in 1986 and stayed with them until 1992. Taiji once stated in an interview that the band was everything to him: “Originally, rock came from America [to Japan]. While everybody [in Japan] was still copying American rock, I was recording with X…I felt that finally, there was a band that could introduce such a great unique Japanese sound.”
Taiji left X in 1992 after confronting the lead singer about the wide gap in wages between he and other band members. In April of that same year he was asked to join the Japanese metal band Loudness yet ended up quitting after recording two albums with them. A year later he formed his own band called D.T.R. (short for Dirty Trashroad), which disbanded after the singer left the group. It was during this period that Taiji divorced his wife and became homeless.
In 2005 he was in a motorcycle accident that severely injured ligaments in his foot. For several years he suffered from epilepsy and chronic strokes, leaving him unable to speak or write for some time. To make health matters worse, he required hip replacement surgery and experienced complications from it afterwards.
On July 11, 2011 Taiji was arrested for assaulting a flight attendant on Delta Airlines Flight 298 en route from Japan to Saipan. He had to be subdued by other passengers and a flight attendant after a violent outburst of punching windows and kicking other passengers' seats. The captain ordered him to be held down with physical restrains until he was arrested upon landing in Saipan. Taiji apparently never gave a reason for his outburst when questioned. He subsequently faced federal charges in the United States District Court for the Northern Mariana Islands. 3 days later he was taken to the intensive care unit at Saipan’s Commonwealth Health Center after hanging himself with a bed sheet in his detention cell, which left him brain dead and on life support. His mother and fiancé agreed to take him off life support 3 days later; he died at the age of 45.