Samuragochi Hears!

“I’m determined to quit telling lie after lie.
I swear by heaven and earth that what I write here today is the truth.”

Mamoru Samuragoch 
12 February 2014

A Milli Vanilli-style scandal rocked the music industry last month. It was revealed that Mamoru Samuragoch was not the composer of his music. In fact, Takashi Niigaki was the composer.

Just like Fabrice Morvan and Robert Pilatus were the window dressing for Milli Vanilli, Mamoru Samuragoch was the window dressing for his compositions. But whereas Pilatus and Morvan were singers who were discovered at a club in Munich by Milli Vanilli producer and concept creator Frank Farian, Mamoru Samuragoch went in search of a ghostwriter while he honed his image of the eccentric, deaf composer.

For those who don’t know, there are two types of hearing loss: conductive hearing loss and sensorineural hearing loss. A conductive hearing loss is one where there’s a problem with the ability of the outer and/or middle ear to conduct sound to the inner ear; a sensorineural hearing loss is one where the inner ear’s ability to sense sound and effectively communicate it to the brain is impaired.

The level of hearing loss (which is measured in decibels) is as follows:

20 to 40 dB HL: cannot hear whispers

41 to 70 dB HL: cannot hear conversational speech

71 to 95 dB HL: cannot hear shouting

over 95 dB HL: cannot hear sounds that would be painful for someone who is not hearing impaired

In a news story in Billboard magazine, Takashi Niigaki claimed that Mamoru Samuragoch does not suffer from hearing loss, much less deafness. And in Mamoru Samuragoch’s statement to the press on February 12, he claimed that after 18 years of being unable to hear, he recently began to hear again, and that for the past three years, in specific situations, he has been able to follow conversations.

It’s hard to imagine that the man — the man who was quoted in Time magazine claiming that at 24, he had a severe hearing disability that left him completely deaf in his left ear and, with the help of a hearing aid, barely able to hear anything in his right ear — is as deaf as he has claimed to be over the years.

Did he really lose ALL his hearing 11 years later, at age 35, only to regain enough hearing to make conversations audible under certain circumstances another 12 years later at age 47?

NOTE:  The math discrepancy is not that of this writer.  I am quoting from news articles that quote Mamoru Samuragoch and Takashi Niigaki.

Is he being truthful about his alleged disability? After all, he “acknowledged … he had not been truthful about his hearing when the scandal emerged.” In other words, he had a chance to set everything straight, but he chose not to do that at a critical moment.

If we are to believe that Mamoru Samuragoch was profoundly deaf,and has since regained some of his hearing, then the next question must be: Is it possible for someone who is profoundly deaf to regain some degree of hearing?

What is known, based on Mamoru Samuragoch’s description of his deafness, is that he does not suffer from sudden deafness. He claimed that he suffered from a degenerative illness that left him profoundly deaf by the age of 35.

The definition of degenerative is defined in the dictionary in this way: characterized by progressive, often irreversible deterioration, and loss of function.

The key word in that definition would be often. Something that is degenerative is one that is often irreversible. In other words, in some cases, it is reversible. But is it reversible in cases of long-term profound deafness?

I’m not a licensed and accredited board certified medical practitioner, so I can’t say.

What I know is that the story of Mamoru Samuragoch may be a modern-day tale of the boy who cried wolf. Maybe he’s regained his hearing in the last three years. Maybe he’s never been deaf. Maybe there’s something else at play.

In the long run, no one likes to be played for a fool.  Not by someone like Mamoru Samuragoch.  Not by someone like Takashi Niigaki.  Not by anyone.

Elyse Bruce

NOTE:  Nippon Columbia has since stopped distribution of Samuragochi’s CDs, DVDs and downloads, and his publisher, Tokyo Hustle, has canceled the scheduled release of three more scores and retracted permissions for its existing “Samuragochi” catalog, saying that the copyright owner is “unknown.


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