Japan boy-band mogul Johnny Kitagawa dies at 87

Japanese boy band SMAP perform on stage for Dragon TV Lunar New Year Gala on January 11, 2012 in Shanghai, ChinaImage copyright
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SMAP was one of the boy bands Johnny Kitagawa (not pictured) achieved huge success with

Johnny Kitagawa, one of the most influential figures in Japan’s entertainment industry, has died at the age of 87.

For more than 50 years the agency he founded, Johnny & Associates, made numerous boy bands household names, including SMAP, Arashi and KAT-TUN.

Many of the artists he propelled to fame also became stars of TV shows.

Kitagawa died at a hospital in Tokyo on Tuesday after suffering a stroke, Kyodo News reported.

He had collapsed and was admitted to hospital on 18 June, the Japan Times said, but the incident was kept secret.

Kitagawa was responsible for 232 number one singles between 1974 and 2010. He was recognised three times by Guinness World Records – for the most number one singles, the most number one artists and the most concerts produced by an individual.

Born in Los Angeles in 1931, Kitagawa returned to Japan with his family as a small child and broke into show business in 1962 with a groundbreaking four-man pop group called Johnny’s.

His talent agency grew to become the most powerful in Japan, with a virtual monopoly on the lucrative boy-band market.

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