In 1957 Slava Ranko (aka Don Philippi) studied shamisen and chikuzen biwa (traditional Japanese stringed instruments). In Japan he became expert at them. He studied under the famed biwa performer Kyokurei Tanaka.
In the late seventies, after moving to San Francisco, Don combined biwa and synthesizer music and began performing in the local music scene under the name of Slava Ranko. In 1981 he issued a record album titled Arctic Hysteria. On the liner notes, he describes his music as "something straight…
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