Joe Hisaishi (久石譲 Hisaishi Jou?) was born as Mamoru Fujisawa on December 6, 1950, in Nagano. He started his career as a composer of modern music when he was still a student at the Kunitachi Collage of Music. At that time, he was into minimalist music. He released his first album, "Information" in 1982.
In 1983, he was recommended by a record company to create the Image Album for Nausicaa of the Valley of Wind, which was being made into a movie. Miyazaki was so impressed with the Image Album that he often played it during the movie production. Although the soundtrack of Nausicaa was to be composed by a certain "famous" composer, Isao Takahata (the producer of Nausicaa) and Miyazaki strongly recommended that Hisaishi should do the soundtrack as well. The rest is history.
Hisaishi also composed the beautiful and unforgettable music for Laputa, Totoro, Kiki, Porco Rosso, Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away, Howl's Moving Castle, Ponyo, The Wind Rises, and The Tale of Princess Kaguya. His music played a very important role in these movies. He has also released many other albums and film scores, most notably for the films of Takeshi Kitano, and served as the executive producer at and wrote the theme song for the 1998 Nagano Paralympics. Hisaishi is also music director and conductor for the World Dream Orchestra, the pops orchestra configuration of the New Japan Philharmonic.
His name, "Hisaishi Joe" (family name first) came from "Quincy Jones". The kanji for "Hisaishi" could be read as "Kuishi", which is close to the Japanese pronunciation of "Quincy", and "Joe" of course came from "Jones". Hisaishi himself chose this name, when he needed a stage name.