Rock Drummer Dead at 51: Akira Tsuneoka's Bandmates Confirm His Death

Japanese punk rock Hi-Standard is mourning the death of drummer Akira Tsuneoka. The band announced Wednesday, Feb. 15 that Tsuneoka recently died, though they did not disclose Tsuneoka's cause of death. The beloved drummer was 51.
In a statement shared on social media, Hi-Standard announced with "deep and profound sadness... the untimely passing of our beloved friend and drummer Akira Tsuneoka of Hi-Standard." The band said that Tsuneoka's "music and spirit will live on in our hearts." As they continue to mourn their bandmate, Hi-Standard also asked that fans "respect the privacy of his family and the members of Hi-Standard during this difficult time."

"Today, we mourn the untimely death of Akira Tsuneoka, a beloved member of the band Hi-STANDARD, and a treasured member of the FAT family. Tsune will be remembered for his incredible talent, infectious enthusiasm, and genial spirit," Fat Wreck Chords wrote in tribute of Tsuneoka. "As a founding member of Hi-STANDARD, he was a driving force behind the band's success. He captivated live audiences with his passion and perfection on stage. He will be dearly missed by family, friends, and fans. Our hearts go out to all those touched by his life and music."
Tsuneoka was one of the founding members of Hi-Standard. The Japanese punk rock band was formed in 1991 with Tsuneoka, vocalist and bassist Akihiro Nanba, and guitarist Ken Yokoyama. During their run, Hi-Standard released five albums, beginning with their debut album Last of Sunny Day, which was released under the band's own imprint Pizza of Death in 1994, according to NME. The label began as a division of the US-based punk label Fat Wreck Chords helmed by NOFX singer Fat Mike before going fully independent in 1999. It was their second album, 1996's Growing Up, that thrust Hi-Standard to international acclaim, the band quickly becoming known for their melodic and technical songwriting. The band went on to tour in the US and Europe, playing sold-out shows alongside NOFX, as well as the likes of No Use for a Name and Wizo in 1998, following the release of their third album, Angry Fist, in 1997. Hi-Standard released their final album, titled The Gift, in 2017.
Amid news of his passing, numerous tributes for Tsuneoka have been shared online. On Twitter, Tim Melodic recalled, "Since my early youth until now your groove always been in my heart and inspire me to wrote my craft. Thank you and rest well Sensei Tsune." One fan wrote in a tribute of their own, "Sad to hear about Akira Tsuneoka passing away. Hi-Standard was my favorite Japanese punk band. I can still remember when I discovered them on the old Fat comps, which leads to the discovery of all the other Pizza of Death bands. RIP, dude. Until we meet again."