Jonathan Smeed - Kendo's Composer!
The writer of the stirring Anthem for Nagasaki, Jonathan Smeed, speaks of how
he was inspired to write such an excellent fanfare for the great Kendo...
Jonathan with Kendo at a Match in Croydon
Everyone who has heard it agrees that the Anthem for Nagasaki is a deeply emotive piece of music, and that it perfectly sets the scene for Kendo's presence...
"I still regale new acquaintances with the story of composing the Anthem," says Jonathan - he's justifiably proud of his work. Here's the story of how the Anthem came into being, in his own words...
"‘Anthem for Nagasaki’ was written in 1997 during my final year at Dartington College of Arts, Totnes. I had been a fan of Kendo Nagasaki from the moment I first saw him on television. It was very clear to see that this was no run-of-the-mill wrestler who just stuck a mask on his head and came out to wrestle. In Nagasaki there was an incredible depth, mystery and intrigue, and you felt that every corner of the persona was honed and crafted.
Meeting him for the first time when I was 13 was an awe-inspiring moment. Moments before I had witnessed Nagasaki battling Wayne Bridges at Worthing’s Assembly Hall, the fight spilling out through the fire doors into the night. Then, not more than an hour later, I was shaking hands with this man – the WWA Heavyweight Champion – as he got in the passenger seat of his car and was driven off, mask on, silent and ten times more mysterious than he’d ever been!
Over the years I met Kendo many times around the country, from Littlehampton to Leicester. There was never a dull moment and the air was always thick with tension, the audience often in a frenzied mix of begrudging respect and outright anger. They were exciting times.
One of my favourite parts of the evening was the anticipation of seeing Nagasaki for the first time. You could sense his presence, a frisson – it was palpable through the MC, the referee, the other wrestlers and even the venue staff.
Finally, the music would play and my heart would pump like crazy, my camera at the ready and then, there he was, in full Kendo regalia, stopping to take in the crowds noise, leaning back, breathing it all in before striding on to the ring. He transformed the venue – by day it was a hall, a theatre, an empty shell. On these nights it was his domain and you felt that even if the place caught on fire, he would still be there, tearing his opponent in half; the mask would never slip.
My fixation with all things Nagasaki led me to write what would become, to my great delight, his entrance music. Through it I tried to convey the sense of mystery, majesty and the atmosphere of anticipation before reaching the peak – that special moment where he would walk through the door and make an entire audience come unglued.
I was fortunate enough that at its first public performance, my recital at the College, the great man himself attended and strode into the auditorium just as I had envisaged – my perfect day.
The web-mix version of ‘Anthem for Nagasaki’ has been made available to download at Kendo Nagasaki’s official online presence - kendonagasaki.org – download, enjoy and pay homage to one of the most enigmatic and enduring legends of popular culture."
Many thanks to Jonathan for telling us his story, and for writing the Anthem - as it's unique to Kendo, and its powerful atmosphere perfectly announces his presence, Jonathan's inspired Anthem will always accompany Kendo.
You can download your own copy of the "Anthem for Nagasaki" here...
Our creative friend Jonathan, inspired as ever!