July 19 – Happy Birthday, Masahiko Kondō

Posted on July 19, 2018

Masahiko Kondō was always interested in driving race cars, and he was already famous as a singer when he was accepted onto a racing team.

And...when he was accepted onto a racing team, he was just 19 years old.


I did a double-take when I read that, and then I checked further: it turns out that Kondō, who was born in Japan on this date in 1964, was just 16 years old when he debuted his first single, "Sneaker Blues." It shot straight to number 1 on the Oricon weekly single charts - and it stayed there for five weeks! "Sneaker Blues" went on to sell over a million copies. Kondō's first album also topped the charts - and since he was still 16 at that point, he became the youngest solo male singer to have a debut album reach number 1.

So he was way famous (in Japan) at a very early age, and when he decided to race cars, he did pretty well at that, too. "Moderately successful" is how some people describe Kondō's racing career.

During his racing years, Kondō did a bit of recording here and there. He dedicated himself fully to racing in 1998, but in 2005 he rededicated himself to music. Since he won the Japan Record Awards for "Best Singer" in 2010, I'd say his Singing Career 2.0 went pretty well...

Fame begets fame...

Painting by Jim Carrey
It's so much easier to make money if you already have money, and it's much easier to become famous in one area if you are already famous in another area. For example, both actor Jim Carrey and former president George W. Bush have been painting - and certainly their art ability exists, but they have gotten way, way, way more attention for their portraits because they are already famous than the average talented painter has. 

Paintings by George W. Bush
Painting by Yayoi Kusama
For example, Yayoi Kusama has achieved success as an artist, but her works and her name have never come to my attention, not once, whereas Carrey's and Bush's art have been featured on websites and TV shows so often that I have seen their paintings several times.

Painting by Clay Wagstaff
If you think, well, that's because Kusama is Japanese, and Carrey and Bush and you are all American, the same exact paragraph I typed above is true of American artist Clay Wagstaff.

I think we all have it in us to achieve lots of different sorts of goals. We need to decide what we want to become expert in now, what we want to express now, and how, and what we want to achieve in the near future. Developing a focus can certainly help us in the short run. But we should keep in mind that we may well be able to achieve expertise and success in other areas, too, maybe years from now...we may be able to express other things later, or express ourselves in other ways, in the future...

Also on this date:

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