Be glad for Waikiki
visitors, says Don Ho
There was a time, Don Ho recalled, when Waikiki's Kalakaua Avenue looked the same -- at 8 p.m. or 4 a.m.
"There was no one there -- you could fire a cannon down the street and hit no one," he said.
"So people (today) don't know what they got -- they have beaucoup people and they should appreciate it."
The entertainer's popularity has been singular in its longevity.
Since the 1960s, Ho has been working steadily in Waikiki -- singing, entertaining, modestly deferring to other Hawaiian musicians but becoming one of the state's most enduring and recognized personalities. He also is involved in a namesake restaurant at the Aloha Tower Marketplace.
"The history was all around me. I just scooted through a crack," he said.
"The Beatles started the same time as me. There was Kent State, the Kennedys' assassinations, Martin Luther King, booze was flowing, sex, drugs -- it was a wild time.
"Then in the '70s, there were these huge tour buses everywhere. They were like elephants screwing up everything, but they brought thousands of people to my shows," Ho remembered.
"The '80s were the worst -- I had a Polynesian-type show and it wasn't my thing. But (in) the '90s I went back to my music. I enjoy it a lot."
Hawaiian music, Ho cautioned, is not a constant. It is changing because its origins came from all the different people who came to Hawaii.
"Hawaiian music is hybrid stuff. It is a continuation of the influences of the outside world, and it was put together by embracing the melody lines of the outside world."
Where the music will go, Ho said, is anyone's guess. There is Hawaiian music influenced today by reggae and rap. He likes it, he said, "as long as the message causes the kids to listen."
The Honolulu Star-Bulletin is counting down to year 2000 with this special series. Each installment will chronicle important eras in Hawaii's history, featuring a timeline of that particular period. This is the final installment.
About this Series
Project Editor: Lucy Young-Oda
Chief Photographer:Dean Sensui