Ayumi Hamasaki was born on October 2, 1978, in Fukuoka Prefecture. Her father left her family when she was very young, and she was raised by her mother and her grandmother. When she turned seven years old, she started modeling in order to earn money for her family. When she was fourteen she started traveling to Tokyo in order to earn money modeling and doing small acting jobs. She chose to attend senior high school in Tokyo, and shortly after that was dropped by her modeling agency because she was thought to be too short. She ended up dropping out of school when she was fifteen and spent her time in malls and at night clubs.
In 1995 she partnered with Dohzi-T and DJ Bass in order to create her first album, entitled Nothing from nothing. Unfortunately it did not chart and the label decided to drop her. She continued to go to dance clubs and was discovered by Masato Matsuura, a producer for the popular Avex label. He asked her if she wanted a singing career and eventually talked her into taking voice lessons. Unfortunately she found the classes boring and skipped most of them. When she told Matsuura he chose to send her to New York to train.
In 1998 she released her first single under the Avex label. It did hit the charts but peaked at number twenty-two. Eventually, however, her singles started getting on the top ten lists, then started becoming the number one single on the charts. She chose to release her singles on 12 cm discs, as they held more data, which allowed her to release more re-mixes of her songs. She became the spokeswoman for a Japanese cosmetics company called Kose and it is said that once she started making commercials for the company, the lipsticks sold out in record numbers.
In 2002, Hamasaki starred in her first short film, named Tsuki ni Shizumu, or Sinking into the Moon. The song from the short film, Voyage, managed to hold the number one spot on the charts for three weeks, becoming the first of her singles to hold the position for that long. Hamasaki is known as much for her fashion and her videos as she is for her music. In 2006 she made a music video for her song Jewel that is still on the list for being one of the most expensive music videos every made. Hamasaki is the only person who is not from America to make a video expensive enough to be considered one of the most expensive music videos ever made.
In January of 2008, Hamasaki put up a blog entry telling her fans that she had become deaf in her left ear due to tinnitus. She did say, however, that she will continue her career for as long as her right ear holds up.
Nothing from Nothing
A Song for XX