There is, interestingly enough, a Japanese label that shares the name King Records. Japan’s King Records even predates Cincinnati’s King Records by twelve years or so.
But back in 1970, it was Cincinnati’s King Records who released two LPs and exactly three 45s by an “all-girl” Japanese pop group, The Tokyo Happy Coats, who are five sisters, we are told — Eiko, Keiko, Shoko, Tomiko & Ruriko Hakomori. This would make at least three prominent family acts vying for dominance on the pop chart at the dawn of the 70s: The Jackson 5, The Osmonds & The Hakomori Sisters of Tokyo Happy Coats.
Ed Sullivan Show – February 27, 1966 (source: William Bickel)
I confess I am still bewildered by the fact that I only just now found out about these “guys.” Did any of the local stores in my Cincinnati hometown stock The Tokyo Happy Coats in the early 1970s, I wonder — back when Ultraman, the Japanese space superhero television series, was broadcast regularly on Cincinnati’s local independent station, WXIX (channel 19 in Roman numerals)? Check out the gals’ take on Sonny & Cher’s “Beat Goes On” from their 1970 live club performance LP, The Tokyo Happy Coats Live:
“The Beat Goes On” The Tokyo Happy Coats 1970
Music writer, Ken Shimamoto (The Stash Dauber) writes a fascinating first-person essay that leads into a review of and “appreciation” for The Tokyo Happy Coats from which we learn that “they were a lounge act that toured the states pretty extensively from the mid-’60s on, playing Las Vegas and The Ed Sullivan Show, as well as dives in Pittsburgh and Detroit. Between ’em, those Happy Coats played a whopping 26 instruments.” Shimamoto perfectly captures the oddball element in this real-life transcontinental story when he observes, “incredibly, they used to record for King Records, the same label as James Brown.” Even more revealing are the heartfelt and enthusiastic comments attached to this blog piece that attest to the group’s magnetism, as well as magnanimity.
Starday-King (the King label having been consolidated with Starday upon the death of founder, Syd Nathan in 1968) actually leased these recordings from another label — the discography does not indicate where. What’s odd, however, especially in light of their popularity, is the complete absence of Tokyo Happy Coats recordings in either 45Cat or Discogs apart from these five Starday-King releases.
Billboard‘s June 13, 1970 edition reports that the “Tokyo Happy Coats, another of the Starday-King acts, opened at the Sahara Tahoe on June 4. They recently released their first single, ‘Forevermore,’ and their first album, The Tokyo Happy Coats Live.”
“An Astro Sonic Production” – distributed by Starday-King
Tokyo Happy Coats Starday-King Discography
King 45 #6296 “Forevermore” b/w “Harlem Nocturne” 1970
King 45 #6337 “Tea A-Wanna Whistle” b/w “Here Is Happiness” 1970
King 45 #6419 “Forevermore” b/w “Here is Happiness” 1970
King LP #1096 The Tokyo Happy Coats Live 1970
King LP #1125 Forevermore 1970