X Japan started in 1976 as NOISE when its original members (Toshi and YOSHIKI) were only 11. NOISE changed to X in 1983. X Japan is often referred to as the grandfathers of Visual Kei; the name was dubbed by critics after their motto, "Psychedelic Violence Crime of Visual Shock". They are also have said to pave the way for younger generations of Japanese to express themselves as up until that point in time, Japan was seen as a very conservative and conforming country.
Most of X Japan's songs are composed by YOSHIKI, some by hide and in the early years, a few by Taiji.
The band overall is cited as a major influence of many Visual Kei as well as Jrock bands and rock bands in general, which include Dir En Grey, MAYDAY, KISS, and much more.
X released their first single, Orgasm, in 1987.
At that time, the members were YOSHIKI (drums and piano), Toshi (vocals), hide (guitar), Pata (guitar), Taiji (bass).
No record labels would sign the band because of their transgressive way of dressing and performing; at the time, Japanese society did not allow any form of freedom of expression. Not to be stopped, Yoshiki created his own record label, Extasy Records, with money he and his mother helped provide by selling the family business - a kimono shop.
In 1992, X was widely known in Japan, and they made their way to America. In America, there was already a band called X, thus they had to change their name to X Japan. Unfortunately, due to language barriers, the plan was scrapped entirely.
Taiji left the band after several fights with Yoshiki and left the band and was replaced by HEALTH later that year. In the "We Are X" documentary, Yoshiki officially revealed that he told Taiji he was fired from the band - the official reasoning being "he did something he shouldn't have" but would not reveal the actuality of the events. Taiji eventually passed away at the age of 45 on July 17, 2011, in prison in Saipan. He had reportedly acted violently with his manager on a flight to Japan and his death was officially stated to be a suicide attempt in his cell.
hide and Yoshiki were secretly planning to resurrect the band in 2000, where hide would be both a guitarist and vocalist, but after hide's death in 1998, the plan was scrapped. 4 fans tried to commit suicide upon news of hide's death - only two of them succeeded. Yoshiki then entered a depressive state and couldn't create or produce anything.
Toshi left the band in May of 1997; he had married and eventually joined a cult - in the
"We Are X" documentary, he revealed that he suspected that his wife was the one who planned all along to entice him into the cult. This lead to the band's dissolution on September 22, later that year. He called up Yoshiki 10 years later when his faith in the cult started to dwindle; this is when talks of reuniting the band for real occurred.
The band finally held a long-awaited reunion with all the living members on June 4, 2007. Later in 2007, their single I.V. was used internationally for the movie SAW IV.
In 2008, the band held 3 live shows in the Tokyo Dome. In 2009, Yoshiki wrote a new song called Jade, which was played at Tokyo Dome on May 2 and 3.
In 2010, the band officially made their US debut thanks to the power of the internet and even held a concert at the famed Madison Square Garden in New York City.
In 2017, the band released a documentary titled "We Are X" which was produced by Stephen Kijak and debuted at the Sundance Festival. Yoshiki stated that he was approached about making a documentary of the band 5 years prior from a friend because of their crazy history which was "too crazy to be true"; it took Yoshiki 5 years to open up to the idea.
When Yoshiki finally agreed to film the documentary, he gave Stephen full access to his archives to work with for the film. The documentary was received well and after the premiere, he stated that people came up to him intrigued by the band and talked about getting into X Japan. Yoshiki's hope for the film is that it not only share the story of X Japan, but he hopes that their story inspires people in a positive light.