L'Arc~en~Ciel translates from French as “the rainbow”. The band has sold over thirty million copies of singles and albums in Japan alone. The band was formed in 1991, when bassist Tetsuya Ogawa (tetsu), recruited vocalist Hyde, guitarist Hiro and drummer Pero. The name of the band was inspired by a French movie of the same name. After a year of playing on Osaka, Hiro left in 1992. Pero followed in the same year, supposedly to join up with Hiro. To replace them, tetsu persuaded Ken Kitamura (Ken) to leave university where he was studiying architectural design and join the band as guitarist. A new drummer, Yasunori Sakurazawa, was recruited after tetsu saw him perform. DUNE was released in 1993 and went number one in the Oricon charts, catching the attention of major labels and the band members moved to Tokyo. In 1994, L'Arc~en~Ciel signed on with Sony's Ki/oon division, and released Tierra that year. In 1996, they released True, their first million seller.
In 1997, Sakura was arrested for heroin possession, and left the band later that year. When news of the arrest became public, CDs were being removed from the shelves and songs being used as theme songs were replaced. Their next single The Fourth Avenue Cafe was postponed. The band continued to be featured in magazines, but only as a trio. They created their own cover band, The Zombies, and poked fun at their own songs as well as covering Marilyn Manson and Nirvana. L'Arc~en~Ciel’s return was marked by the named Reincarnation 97 Live in Tokyo Dome, with their new drummer, Yukihiro. The first concert had an attendance of 56,000 and sold out in four minutes. Yukihiro was listed as supporting member in 1997 on the single Niji — Rainbow, the and shortly afteward, he became an official member. ark and ray were released simultaneously in, 1999, and became the first Japanese albums to be released simultaneously in many other Asian countries. Both topped the Oricon music charts. ark at number one and ray at number two. Each sold over two million copies. REAL was the last CD of new material for some time, and L'Arc~en~Ciel's last new song before their hiatus, Spirit dreams inside, was used as the closing theme song to the movie Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within. The band members began working on solo projects and rumors spread about L'Arc~en~Ciel disbanding. After the hiatus they performed a series of concerts in Tokyo in 2003 and announced a new album for release the following year. In 2004, the band made their American concert debut at the anime convention Otakon in Baltimore, Maryland. They continued to release successful singles and albums and in 2005 toured Japan. The tour featured displays of anti-war sentiment, for example the unfurling of a giant white flag decorated with the universal symbol for peace. hyde's costuming raised controversy, including his neo-Nazi uniform and papal robes. L'Arc~en~Ciel's members turned their attentions back to their solo projects for a while. They celebrated their fifteenth anniversary in 2006 by playing two shows at the Tokyo Dome. Having begun to work together again, L'Arc~en~Ciel are due to release a new song in spring and have a tour scheduled summer 2007 in Japan.
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