Sakamoto's death — which was announced only after his funeral had taken place — comes after a long battle with cancer, most recently rectal cancer for which he began treatment in 2021.
Born January 17, 1952, in Tokyo, he was drawn to music from childhood. After studying it at Tokyo University of the Arts, and after discovering and mastering the synthesizer, he released the solo album "Thousand Knives" in 1978.
His group Yellow Magic Orchestra released its first work that same year, becoming a sensation for its playful, satirical electronic music. Though they broke up in 1984, the group had reunited occasionally over time. Bassist Haruomi Hosono is the last surviving member, following Sakamoto's death and the passing of drummer Yukihiro Takahashi in January.
With no previous acting experience, he appeared in the cult film "Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence" (1983) opposite David Bowie, scoring the film memorably.
After that, his profile raised, he scored "The Last Emperor" (1987), "The Sheltering Sky" (1990), "Little Buddha" (1993), and "The Revenant" (2015), appeared in Madonna's music video for "Rain" (1993), was a Gap model, and collaborated widely with a disparate group of like-minded artists.
In the '90s, Sakamoto shifted toward classical music, creating a symphony and an opera, contributing music to video games and ringtones, and melding conservationist themes into his increasingly experimental output.
In a long career that produced 23 studio albums, Sakamoto won the Oscar, a BAFTA, two Golden Globes, and a Grammy.
Married and divorced twice, he is survived by his partner Norika Sora.