To see Bill Monroe

In September of 1989, we had a phone call from an NHK television producer. “I would like to shoot a scene of the Nakashima family band with Bill Monroe in Aspecta, Kumamoto,” he said. Every year, we have a big country festival called “Country Gold” in Kumamoto, Japan. Bill Monroe

Bill Monroe came to Kumamoto for the event. At the time, we were told that it might be the
last chance for Japanese bluegrass people to see Bill Monroe, due to his age. For the ‘scenario’ of the NHK television show, we waited for Bill Monroe to come out of the room for the festival musicians.

As soon as we played his instrumental tune “Rawhide”, amazingly he started dancing. Every one of us was surprised at the scene because Bill was very sick during his visit to Kumamoto.


"Kennedy-Alter-Sung" disease

I became very ill after the successful events in those years. My hands and legs had become severely numb and I lost much of my sense of touch. I have an enormous feeling of static electricity. It was not even winter, but I had to wear a pair of gloves.

Nakashima family

Finally, I was hospitalized for checkups. I had nothing to do but to lay down on the hospital bed. Then I told my children to record their practice on tape so that I could listen to them in bed and point out the problems. In the meantime, I finally got the results. I was diagnosed with “Kennedy-Alter-Sung” disease.

Kennedy-Alter-Sung disease is a genetic disease that has been making me skinny and helpless as years pass by. I have four brothers: the symptoms are slightly different, but three of us were diagnosed with the disease. The brother who didn't have this illness died from a brain tumor.

Basically, it eats muscle, and no cure has been found yet. There are 2,000 patients suffering from this disease in Japan. Amazingly, it ONLY attacks males. Nevertheless, females will possess the gene. For instance, when my daughters have a baby boy, there is 50% chance to have this disease. So far, I am 175cm tall and my weight is 35kg.