Michiro Endo, founder of the punk band The Stalin and a prolific solo artist also known for social activism, died late last week from pancreatic cancer. He was 68.
Michiro Endo was born in Fukushima prefecture in 1950. After performing in several small punk bands in the late 1970s, he formed The Stalin in 1980, a quartet that would see constant changes in members over the years. Endo, however, was always the vocalist. The group developed a reputation for wild live shows, which would often feature Endo wrecking the stage around him before imitating the sound of being someone being sick into the microphone. Nudity and other high-energy antics were common.
The Stalin released their major label debut “Stop Jap” in 1982. This collection of shambling punk rock became the group and Michiro Endo’s defining work, appearing on critical lists of the best Japanese albums of all time and proving to be one of the most influential Japanese punk releases ever, partially due to its ease of availability. Although it was put out via a major music company, Stop Jap retained the political and punk energy the band had developed in their early years.
The band would release more albums but stopped in 1985. Over the years, they would reunite in various forms — including a 1988 run inspired by the end of the Soviet Union — including in the 21st century. Countless Japanese rock artists and musicians, in general, have expressed their love for The Stalin, with many collaborating with Endo over the years.
Outside of The Stalin, Endo kept busy with political activism and various other music projects. He released many solo songs and albums, while also worked with artists such as Kazuyuki Kuhara of Thee Michelle Gun Elephant for the acoustic punk project M.J.Q. He also was active in raising money and awareness for his home prefecture of Fukushima in the wake of the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami.