Show-Ya (しょーや Shōya) is a female heavy metal/hard rock band from Japan, founded in 1982. The band disbanded in 1998, but reformed with the original line-up in 2005 for the 20th anniversary of their first release. The music of Show-Ya is deeply rooted in classic rock and in their albums and live shows they have covered songs from The Beatles, The Doors, The Yardbirds, Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple and AC/DC. Their music evolved from the pop rock of their first offerings to the heavy metal of their most successful albums, Outerlimits and Hard Way.
The first nucleus of Show-Ya was formed in 1982 by Keiko Terada and Miki Nakamura, who had been playing together for a year, in order to enter the East West Grand Prix musical contest organized and sponsored by Yamaha. The new band won the contest for best female group, which resulted in a record contract with Toshiba EMI. In the following two years, Miki Igarashi replaced the original guitarist Mitsuko Numata and the line-up was completed by Miki Tsunoda on drums and Satomi Senba on bass. Nakamura, Igarashi and Tsunoda adopted the stage names of “Captain”, “Sun-Go” and “Mittan” to avoid confusion with the first name Miki, which they have in common. In this period they wrote material for their debut album Masquerade Show, which was recorded in Japan and mixed at Abbey Road Studios in London. The album was promoted by the Coca Cola Company, which used their debut single "Suteki Ni Dancing (Coke Is It)" for a TV and radio commercial and a campaign. While in London, the band had the opportunity to play in front of a foreign audience at Dingwalls and at the legendary rock club The Marquee. After the successful release of their first album, the band returned to Abbey Road Studios to mix their second album Queendom the following year.
The interest of the Japanese press and the ever increasing presence of the band on TV shows led soon to a more professional and organized approach to the music business.With their fourth album Trade Last, Show-Ya ceded musical direction to the expert Yasushi Akimoto, famous for being the man behind the success of the Japanese Idol all-female band Onyanko Club. The Japanese Idol phenomenon touched the band only marginally, but Akimoto’s management gave Show-Ya the chance to play in front of larger audiences in their “Date Line” national tour. Their performance at Nakano Sun Plaza in Tokyo was recorded for their first VHS.
In 1987, the band was approached by producer Andy Johns, who had worked with the likes of Led Zeppelin, Rolling Stones and Van Halen. He was responsible for the mixing of the albums Immigration and Glamourin Los Angeles, USA. The explosion of the hair metal phenomenon in California influenced both the style and the sound of the band’s following albums. Songs taken from the “Immigration Tour” and the “Tour of the Immigrant” were recorded for the band’s first live album Turn Over.
In September 1987, Show-Ya organized, produced and presented the first Naon no Yaon rock festival, featuring strictly all-female Japanese musicians and bands. The festival has been held regularly until 1999 and then again in 2008 and 2009, with Show-Ya’s production.
On 27 April 1988, Show-Ya performed their first live show on American soil, at the Roxy Theatre in West Hollywood. The name of Show-Ya was soon associated by the specialized press with other pre-eminent female acts of the time, such as Vixen and Lita Ford.
In 1989 they recorded Outerlimits, which reached position No. 3 in the Japanese chart becoming the band's best selling album, with sales exceeding 600,000 copies. The hit single "Genkai Lovers" was used for a Shell campaign and became their best known song. Their live shows went sold out in large theatres all over Japan, filling up even the prestigious Budokan in Tokyo. An international tour touched cities like London, Moscow, Los Angeles and Mexico City.
At the beginning of 1990, the band’s eighth album Hard Way was produced and recorded in Los Angeles by Beau Hill (Alice Cooper, Winger, Europe, Ratt). The band was featured on the cover of the Los Angeles Times in 1990, where they were considered the all-female version of popular Japanese metal bands Vow Wow and Loudness.They had reached the peak of their popularity in their home country but, despite many promotional attempts by their label and management, the band failed to achieve a significant commercial success in the USA.
In February 1991, lead singer Keiko Terada left the group, considering the musical direction the band was taking too mainstream orientated. Wishing to explore new and more varied musical influences, she started a solo career. After many auditions, the band recruited Japanese-American singer Steffanie Borges. The new singer could sing and speak in fluent English and Show-Ya hoped that this could help their attempt to break in the US market. In June of the same year, the North Korean government invited the band to perform at the Art Theatre in Pyongyang and the historic two-day concerts were heavily covered by the Japanese media. On 4 January 1992, the band performed theme music at the wrestling event Starrcade 1992 in Tokyo Dome, for a match between Sting and The Great Muta and The Steiner Brothers.
After years of hard work and financial support, at the end of 1992, Master Works Co. solved its management contract with Show-Ya, preferring to continue managing only Keiko Terada. At the same time, the band lost their long engagement with EMI Japan, just after the release of the first single with Steffanie Borges "Flame of the Angels". The band spent some time in Los Angeles, recording and playing shows constantly, and in 1995 they released their only album with Borges, Touch the Sun on the Creedence label. At the end of the tour in 1996, Borges left, to be substituted by the singer Yoshino. Show-Ya produced the EP This My Way in 1998 and, by the end of the year, the band officially disbanded. Each member parted and went their separated ways, pursuing individual careers and playing with various artists. Igarashi was reunited briefly with Terada in the All Japans’ Women Pro Band, which included also members of Princess Princess.
Show-Ya officially reunited in 2005, with Keiko Terada back as lead vocalist, in time for their 20th Anniversary shows at NHK Hall in Tokyo. The shows were recorded and released on DVD. For the event, EMI Japan reprinted all the band’s back catalogue in remastered CD editions and released an extensive compilation with a few remixed tracks.
The band continues to perform live and has released another DVD in 2007. Show-Ya is also featured on the Naon no Yaon rock festival DVDs from 2008 and 2009. They released their 10th studio album, calledGenuine Diamond, in March 2012.
Keiko Terada – lead vocals (1982–1991; 2005–present)
Miki "Sun-go" Igarashi – guitar, backing vocals (1982–1998; 2005–present)
Miki "Captain" Nakamura – keyboards, backing vocals (1982–1998; 2005–present)
Satomi Senba – bass, backing vocals (1982–1998; 2005–present)
Miki "Mittan" Tsunoda – drums, backing vocals (1982–1998; 2005–present)
Mitsuko Numata – guitar
Steffanie Borges – vocals (1991–1997)
Yoshino – vocals (1997–1998)