From all accounts, Memphis keyboard musician Richard Hinds has successfully mirrored the musical talents of his older brother Claude. So, it was no doubt a thrill when the 19-year-old 2011 graduate of Central High School joined his brother on tour last month as sidemen for Japanese pop singing sensation AI.
"They auditioned and they meet the criteria that the music director is looking for. So, they showed proficiency in being able to play the songs and play them well," said the Hinds' brothers musical mentor Ralph Sutton.
But, on May 24th in Tokyo, Richard Hinds dream gig took on nightmarish proportions. Hinds was arrested and remains in custody along with another American, 23-year-old dancer James Jamari Blackston, in connection with the strangulation death of Irish exchange student 21-year-old Nicola Furlong.
Japanese police allege Furlong and a female companion had attended a Niki Minaj concert, where video shows Blackston had performed in. The report contends Hinds and Blackston shared a taxi with the two women. Hours later Furlong's body was discovered in a hotel room where they allegedly also found Hinds. The police report contends they were already after the two men on suspicion of molesting Furlong's female friend in the taxi earlier.
Though neither Hinds or Blackston have been charged with Furlong's death, Japanese law allows for no limitations on how long they can hold suspects without charging them. Sutton, who musically mentored both Hinds brothers, says traveling to the Far East can be fraught with restrictions.
"When you go to Japan and take for instance, while you're on the plane. They give you all the rules and regulations of the city or the country and you're suppose to sign off on that," said Sutton. "He's a very good kid. No trouble at all. I've never...I can't think of a moment where either of them have shown any bad behavior whatsoever."
The same might not be said for Blackston. A YouTube video appears to show an erratic Blackston irritating subway riders with his dancing.
We called Memphis Congressman Steve Cohen's office in Washington to see if he's been apprised of Hinds situation, but did not receive a reply by the time this story aired.
Sutton says the incident puts a terrible spin on what should have been the trip of a lifetime for two devoted brothers, "The culture in Japan they really appreciate American culture. Western culture. So, a lot of the music that we do here is very, very popular there. The Hinds brothers are really good musicians...and really good young men."