LOUDNESS guitarist Akira Takasaki has issued the following statement regarding the passing of the group's drummer Munetaka Higuchi:
"Our member Munetaka Higuchi has laid down his sticks as drummer of LOUDNESS and with them he has left that mortal part for which he no longer has use. He was deceased on November 30, 2008 at 10:44 am because of liver cancer. His great drum works will remain forever with our music, and his rock spirits will be succeeded among many rock fans. Rest in peace, Munetaka."
Higuchi died at a hospital in Osaka, Japan. He was 49 years old.
Higuchi was diagnosed with liver cancer (Hepatocellular Carcinoma) in April 2008. He had reportedly undergone two rounds of chemotherapy treatment and an operation to remove part of his liver.
In an October 18, 2008 statement released via the band's official web site, Munetaka wrote about his condition (translated from Japanese), "It has been half a year since I was diagnosed with liver cancer. I am really sorry that the fans are worried. The cancer has become worse despite the fact that I have been taking care of my health, and I will need more time for my treatment. [Even after undergoing the] big operation to remove half of my liver, I still need more treatment. There are various risks and dangers involved with my condition, but I'll do my best to keep my spirits up and maintain my physical strength to fight this illness. I know it is still the middle of my treatment, but I just wanted inform you about my progress since the operation. Thank you very much for all the support."
LOUDNESS utilized a session drummer — Kozo Suganuma, a member of one of the most popular fusion bands in Japan, FRAGILE, and a former member of DED CHAPLIN (featuring LOUDNESS singer Minoru Niihara) — for its "special guest" appearance at MÖTLEY CRÜE's October 26, 2008 concert at Saitama Super Arena.
LOUDNESS recently released a four-disc DVD set entitled "The Legend Of Loudness - Live Complete Best" in Japan through Tokuma Communications. It features footage spanning the band's entire career — from the early 1980s through 2008 — including the periods when it was fronted by Michael Vescera (YNGWIE MALMSTEEN, OBSESSION) and Masaki Yamada (EZO).