X Japan bassist Hiroshi Morie, known to fans as "Heath", has died at the age of 55. The news was widely reported last week, but was not confirmed by the band. Now they've released an official statement.
The statement reads: "It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of X Japan's ’s esteemed bass player Heath after his battle with colorectal cancer, on October 29th, 2023, at the age of 55. His cancer was found during an examination in June of this year. Despite his efforts to battle the disease, his condition declined suddenly in October, and he took his last breath in the hospital.
"We would like to express our heartfelt gratitude to those who cherished Heath throughout his lifetime. We, the members of X Japan have personally bid farewell to Heath, but are still deeply saddened and dismayed by his sudden loss. Individual tributes from X Japan members will be shared on Heath’s official website at heathproject.com."
The statement from X Japan goes on to reveal that the announcement of Heath's death was scheduled for mid-November in accordance with his family's wishes, but the confirmation was brought forward as a result of "unwarranted media coverage."
Heath joined X Japan in 1992 following the sacking of previous bassist Taiji, and appeared on the following year's Art Of Life (an album comprised of a single, 29-minute title track), and 1996's Dahlia. The band broke up in 1997.
X Japan reformed in 2007 and Heath played on their untiled sixth album, which was initially scheduled for release in 2010. The street date was subsequently rescheduled on several occasions, before Yoshiki announced in 2018 that it was finished and ready for release. It has still not appeared.
In July this year, X Japan released their first single in eight years, Angel, and on August 20 Heath made his final appearance onstage, performing X Japan's Rusty Nail with Yoshiki on the last night of his run of solo dates at the Grand Hyatt hotel in Tokyo.
In a separate statement Yoshiki wrote, "Heath and I got closer than ever over this past year. On my birthday last year, he appeared as a guest on my program, and we talked endlessly afterwards in my dressing room. There was also a time after that when we talked on the phone for hours until daybreak.
"This summer, on August 20th, Heath performed as a guest at my dinner show. How could I have known that that would be my last performance with him?"
Yoshiki will be leading a formal farewell ceremony at a later date, in accordance with Heath's wishes.