Surgeon says damage would be enough to “force a professional rugby player to retire.”

The late American soul singer James Brown was often described as “the hardest working man in show business.” Over on this side of the Pacific, though, that title would likely go to Yoshiki, front man for legendary rock band X Japan.

In addition to playing the drums and piano, Yoshiki composes X Japan’s songs, and is often involved in collaborative projects with other luminaries of the music and fashion worlds. However, his tireless enthusiasm and creative work ethic have taken a toll, as alluded to in a tweet sent out by Yoshiki on May 9 in which he told his followers “I think my body is breaking down.”

This wasn’t a case of an artist indulging in dramatic prose, either. Yoshiki later revealed that he will be undergoing emergency surgery in California next week. Further details were provided on his official website, which explained that:

“As a result of YOSHIKI’s intense drumming style and the impact it has had on his physical health, he was diagnosed with cervical foraminal stenosis [abnormal narrowing of the spinal canal] in July 2009

After suffering from a herniated disc that has worsened over the past six months, YOSHIKI has experienced symptoms including numbness and severe paralysis of the left hand and arm, which have since been affecting his musical performances.”

Tommy Tomizawa, one of Yoshiki’s team of physicians, feels that the damage to Yoshiki’s body has reached the extent where it will impact not only his music-related motor skills, but also his ability to perform movements necessary to function in daily life. The artist’s busy schedule, which has been packed with international travel to play in concerts and promote the X Japan documentary, We Are X, hasn’t helped matters, and so the decision has been made to perform emergency cervical artificial disc replacement surgery in Los Angeles on May 16.

The timing has forced the cancellation of Yoshiki’s public appearances and associated performances that were scheduled for this month. Furthermore, the status of the artist’s summer and fall engagements are also uncertain, with the possibility that they will need to be postponed or cancelled depending on the speed of Yoshiki’s recovery.

The musician has apologized to his fans for the inconvenience, while also thanking them for support and even sharing photographic evidence of his ailment.

And while he admits to being “A little scared,” he’s also continued to display the strength of spirit for which he’s known, vowing “No matter what happens to my life…I’ll be back.”

Sources: Yoshiki official website via IT Media, Twitter/@YoshikiOfficial (1, 2, 3)