life & solo career
At the age of 19 in 1996, Yuko Sasaki (佐々木ゆう子 / Sasaki Yuuko) had the intention of becoming an OL for a medical corporation. During that time she was mending her heart after a painful breakup, and, with the encouragement of friends and family, decided to try out for a vocalist audition segment on a popular variety program on TV Tokyo called ASAYAN.
After a few months of winning over the hosts and audiences with her bubblegum voice and charming nature, Yuko was chosen to be part of the AIS Debut Group, and was assisted in creating a demo tape and auditioning for a major record label. Shortly after submitting her demo, it was announced that Yuko had been accepted by Pioneer LDC. Yuko's debut single, koi wa C'est si bon, was released on September 10th, 1997.
Yuko released six singles and two studio albums before taking a break in 2000 to pursue a duo group effort called Plum Planets. When that ended in 2003, three years passed before she temporarily re-emerged in 2006 with two anime theme singles released by Columbia Entertainment. Yuko married in 2007, and in early 2010 began keeping a blog where she announced that she was still intent on releasing music. She signed with Three Tree, a small management agency, and performed at live venues for a short while.
In mid-2013 Yuko became ill under conditions that she wished to keep private, but were severe enough to warrant frequent hospitalization and the cancellation of a performance. In November she announced on her blog that, after several years of trying, she had conceived a few months prior and had experienced complications from the pregnancy, but was on her way to a full recovery. On 15 April 2014, she gave birth to a healthy baby boy. Yuko's family Dachshund, Dunk, whom she often spoke of throughout her career, passed away in December 2015 at the age of 16. Yuko currently resides in Karuizawa, Nagano.
In August 2016, Yuko announced that she had conceived again and was experiencing the same difficulties from her first carriage. In the same blog post she stated that she's still intent on performing once her second child's health and her own permit her to do so. On 19 November 2016, she successfully gave birth to a healthy baby girl.
In late 2000, Yuko was asked by friend Shigewo Naka, guitarist for The Surf Coasters, if she would like to take part in a collaboration he was planning with Yuri Takanohashi, a fellow singer-songwriter who had been playing the New York club scene under the stage name YURAI. The three decided to work on an indies effort with the intent to write music that was influenced by Western rock/pop of the 60's and 70's. Yuri (as "Yurippe") would sing main vocals, Yuko (as "Yuko-p") would sing harmony, and Naka would produce.
Plum Planets released their first indies single FEMINITY on May 23rd, 2001. The song had a tie-in as the theme for a program on TV Tokyo and did very well on the Oricon indies charts. PP was quickly signed to a relatively new (at the time) record company called Dreamusic, and five months later they released their first major single, MIDNIGHT COWGIRL. Plum Planets released six singles and a full album; their last single came out in 2003. The majority of Plum Planets' songs were written by Naka and arranged by Toshiyuki Takizawa. Most of the lyrics were penned by Kouji Ide, whom Yuko had formerly worked with on sakusaku MORNING CALL.
other media appearances
Earlier on in her career, Yuko appeared as a regular on various music-related TV shows and radio programs, including the popular sakusaku MORNING CALL, which she and Hiroki Kubo co-hosted with Kouji Ide from January 2000 to the show's end eight months later.
From July 1998 to February 2001 Yuko wrote a regular column titled Sasaki Yuuko no Da Ba Da Bon Vie Bon for the first incarnation of Monthly Gekkayo (月刊歌謡曲), a youth culture music magazine that eventually went digital in 2013. The segment was basically a short diary entry in which Yuko wrote about experiences in her work and life.