Over the Ciel

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L`Arc~en~Ciel (meaning "The Rainbow" in French) was formed by bassist Tetsu (Tetsuya Ogawa), vocalist Hyde (Hideto Takarai), and drummer Pero in 1991. Tetsu then convinced his friend Ken Kitamura to abandon his university studies and join the band as their guitarist. Pero soon left the band on December 30, 1992. In 1993, a new drummer, Yasunori Sakurazawa (Sakura), joined the band.

On April 1, 1993, they released their debut album DUNE under the indie label Danger Crue. The album rose to number one on the Oricon indies charts, catching the attention of several major labels. In 1994, L`Arc~en~Ciel signed on with Sony's Ki/oon Records and released their second album, Tierra, that year. Heavenly followed in 1995. True, released in 1996, became their first number-one album.

In February 1997, drummer Sakura was arrested for illegal drug possession. He officially quit the band on October 4, 1997. This proved to be the lowest point in the band's history. Later that year, "Niji", was released with Yukihiro credited as supporting drummer. Not long after the single hit shelves, Yukihiro was signed on as the official drummer for L`Arc~en~Ciel.

The band's popularity in the following years utterly exploded and they released several more hit singles and number-one albums including HEART (February 25, 1998), ark (July 1, 1999), ray (July 1, 1999), REAL (August 30, 2000), SMILE (March 31, 2004), AWAKE (June 22, 2005), and KISS (November 21, 2007).

Each band member decided to expand their creative prowess by either starting a solo career or forming bands in addition to L`Arc~en~Ciel. Hyde has seen a highly successful solo career and has lent his talents to his new band, VAMPS. He has also had a small stint in acting, appearing in the films Moon Child (alongside fellow musician Gackt) and Kagen no Tsuki (Last Quarter). Tetsu began a solo career as TETSU69 and also plays in another band - Creature Creature. Yukihiro formed acid android, a heavy electronica outfit, and Ken is a part of the alternative rock band Sons of All Pussys. L`Arc~en~Ciel even has an alter-ego band: P`UNK~EN~CIEL. Introduced in 2004, this version of the band puts Hyde on guitar, Ken on drums, Yukihiro on bass, and Tetsu on vocals. P`UNK~EN~CIEL's music is remixed and rearranged L`Arc~en~Ciel tracks and they are commonly released as b-sides on L`Arc~en~Ciel's singles.

Despite all their success outside of the band, L`Arc~en~Ciel maintains a strong bond and continues to steadily produce music. On November 25 and 26, 2006, the band played two shows at the Tokyo Dome to celebrate their 15th anniversary. The event was entitled L`Anniversary and sold out in two minutes, notably breaking records. All in all, the group has sold over 13 million albums, 16 million singles, and millions of other units (videos, DVDs, and publications). They were ranked at number 58 in a list of Japan's top 100 pop musicians, provided by HMV in 2003.

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