As the world celebrated Cinco De Mayo,just before sunset in Hawaii, islanders and visitors celebrated the life of Don Ho.
This afternoon and evening was a celebration that Hawaii hasn't seen in years and may never see again. The love and affection for Don has always been strong here but emotions were running high as we said goodbye to an icon of the late twentieth century. For someone who hasn't grown up in Hawaii, it may be hard to comprehend how many of us in our travels are always asked if we knew Don Ho. Was he our next door neighbor? Did he really spend his time as an entertainer talking with with his audience members after a show and take a photograph with anyone who asked? Could anyone that famous be filled so much Aloha. He was simply a man who loved his family and loved performing. He never intended to be an entertainer. A musician's life wasn't his life goal as a young man but destiny intervened and the rest is musical and cultural history.
His music has been a part of our lives and without a doubt...have become island classics. The late Kui Lee's greatest legacy as a songwriter met worldwide success due to Don. It may have been timing due to sixties turmoil or a fluke that "Tiny Bubbles" grabbed the world's attention. Whatever the case may happen to be, the songs that Don Ho and The Ali'is released in the mid to late sixties were taken to heart. "Ain't No Big Thing", "Days Of My Youth", "Suck 'Em Up", "Lahainaluna", "One Paddle, Two Paddle", "The Simple Folk" and "I'll Remember You" were just a handful of songs that spoke to audiences worldwide.
The seventies brought staying power to Don as an entertainer. NBC's television special "Hawaii-Ho" was a certified hit back for the 1969-1970 tv season. The Singer sponsored show had the chairman of the board Frank Sinatra as their first superstar headliner. The second episode was Elvis Presley. The third was Barbara Striesand. The fourth episode was Don who had no special guest stars to fill the hour. It was Hawaii that filled the hour. Members of The Time Machine got to witness the making of a television program right here in Lahaina at the corner of Lahainaluna Road and Front Street. Firecrackers were set off in the old supermarket across from Lahaina TV for a segment of the show. It was a great way to kick off the decade. 1970 was off and running.
We would come home after school in the mid seventies to watch Don join the daily daytime talkshow hosts with his own show to compete with; Mike Douglas, Dinah Shore and Merv Griffin. We were proud to have someone from Hawaii have his own show.
The counter-culture merged with the mainstream to yield Don's regional hit "Who Is The Lolo Who Stole My Pakalolo?" that radio DJs obviously had a ball playing to radio audiences and singles were hard to keep in stock. Just when we thought that Don couldn't become more famous than he already was, Dr. Demento began to play Don's hilarious record, making him one of the few entertainers loved by the masses and also a cult musical hero. No easy feat.
The eighties brought us "Papa's Lament" which to this day still touches people who hear it for the very first time. Don was so much more than just being the "Dean Martin of Hawaii". A former Air Force pilot who became an international superstar was a man truly filled with Aloha for everyone around him. His career can be easily be found anywhere. It's the lives he touched that means the most to us.
Below photographs: Don's wife Haumea Ho
, scattered his ashes wrapped in Hawaiian 'ti' leaves, from an outrigger canoe off Waikiki Beach.
Below photograph: Don's daughter, Hoku Ho
, waved to friends during her Dad's memorial.
Below photograph: Haumea covered her face as a U.S. Air Force F-15 Eagle flies over the memorial service in honor of the former pilot.
Below photograph: Thousands gathered on Waikiki Beach to pay tribute to Hawaii's Ambassador of Aloha
Below Photograph: Hoku and her family joined the thousands on the beach to blow bubbles in the air during final moments of the ceremony.
Many of Hawaii's most beloved performers and recording artists joined the celebration of Don's life this evening from The Brothers Cazimero to Melveen Leed to Willie K. The family members were the strongest tonight for all of us with Kaimana, Kea and Hoku all singing their hearts out. Hoku closed the ceremony with her touching and heartfelt version of "I'll Remember You". The Time Machine sends out our love to the entire family. We will miss him too.1976 Fourth Of July Television SpecialThe Pro Bowl"The Brady Bunch"Kamasami Kong and DonDon and Willie prepare for their duet on "Night Life"Don and Duke
May 6, 2007 8:02 PM
Thank you sooo much, Michael. Aw, this was so nice. Don was such a wonderful part of Hawaii. I'm so glad they gave him such a terrific send-off. Thanks for this.
- Judy B.
May 7, 2007 12:15 PM
Are you kidding about Don Ho on Front Street? I was there...there were tons of kids there at that intersection. I was up right next to him...he held my hand...I told my sister Penny we were getting married...and she could keep Tom Jones all to herself...1970s...wow...thanks for the memories...
May 7, 2007 3:27 PM
I grew up in the 60's and was a fan of Don Ho and "Tiny Bubbles". That was a song I used to sing around the house when I was little! I was hoping to one day get to Hawaii and see Mr. Ho in person.....too late now.....but great memories!
- Mark Hershberger, Pop Detective Records
May 10, 2007 11:08 AM
I grew up thinking that Don Ho was my father. My mother used to refer to him as if he were. I guess like all other women of her generation, it must have been their dream. Now that I know he isn't my father, life goes on. More importantly his music lives on, in all our hearts.
As a resident of the mainland, he is probably the one "thing" that everyone knows about Hawaii and I am very proud to have had him as part of my life via his music.
My heart goes out to his family.
I hope you know that I am kidding about him being my father (I know better). I'm sure Don Ho was to my mother as Donny Osmond was to me...................
Labels: Don Ho, eighties, Hawaii, Hoku, Kui Lee, music, pop, seventies, sixties