Sab Watanabe 1949-2019

Sad news from Japan
After fighting cancer for almost three years Saburo "Sab" "Watanabe" Inoue passed away yesterday.
He played banjo with the Bluegrass 45 for 53 years and has been publishing MoonShiner magazine
(the only monthly Bluegrass magazine in Japan) for 37 years. It received a Distinguished Achievement Award
from International Bluegrass Music Association just two months ago. He also produced Tony Rice's first LP
in 1973, he and his brother, Toshio Watanabe, started Takarazuka Bluegrass Festival in 1972 -
they celebrated their 48th this past August.
RIP, Sab.
12/3/1949 - 11/22/2019
- Akira Otsuka, November 22, 2019

Photo by Shin Akimoto Oct 2019 Takarazuka, Japan                       Photo by Tama Otsuka at IBMA WOB Owensboro, KY Sept 1996

Bluegrass Unlimited Magazine January 2020

Reprinted by permission Bluegrass Unlimited Magazine
All rights reserved. No duplication is permitted without permission from the publisher.
Copyright December 2019, Bluegrass Unlimited Inc.

Sharing my photos for the magazine

From  Big Family: The Story of Bluegrass (

Sab Watanabe

Sab Watanabe, Josh Otsuka

Hsueh-Cheng Liao (fiddle), Taro Inoue (mandolin - Sab's son), Chien-Hua Lee (guitar),
Toshio Watanabe (bass), Josh Otsuka (guitar), Sab Watanabe Inoue

Rocky Top on 11/5/2017: L-to-R: Hsueh-Cheng Liao (fiddle), Sab "Watanabe" Inoue (banjo),
Taro Inoue (mandolin, Sab's son) & Josh Otsuka (guitar).

From Akira Otsuka

Sab and daughter Yuiko by Dan Boner 2021

In 2014 at Grey Fox, Akira Otsuka surprised me, introducing me to Yuiko,
who brought greetings to me from her Dad!

Updated August 7, 2021

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