Ho was an inspiration to Kahoano and others
During last night's hula 'auana competition at the Merrie Monarch Festival in Hilo, a moment was taken not only to honor the memories of four kumu hula -- George Holokai, Nina Boyd Maxwell, Jay Jay Akiona and John Ka'imikaua -- but also of iconic entertainer Don Ho.
KITV telecast co-host and festival emcee Kimo Kahoano fondly said Ho inspired him to be in the entertainment business.
His first meeting with Ho was not the one he intended. "It's ironic," Kahoano said. "My friends and I were underage at the time, and we wanted to meet and dance for this charismatic man, so we snuck into Duke's, and instead got smashed in the process.
"But about a year ago at Don's show at the Waikiki Beachcomber, I made up for that. I got up on stage and told that story about being in Duke's many, many years ago, and never getting the opportunity to dance for him. So then I finally did the dance I wanted to, to the song 'The Boy From Laupahoehoe.'
"And during my time on radio, I was fortunate to interview Don," Kahoano said. "He was the man always in control. He was the total entertainment package by the time he was at the Beachcomber, surrounded by his keyboard, a phone by his side ready to call his soundman to adjust the mix. He even incorporated the computer when he had to. It was because of his willingness to use new technology that he had a long-term career in entertainment.
"It's no surprise that, as soon as the news came out on Don's death, it was reported as far as Las Vegas, Los Angeles, New York and Chicago. It's because he didn't just belong to Hawaii, but everywhere (people) were familiar with 'Tiny Bubbles.' "
"I caught what would be his last show Thursday night and spent 1 1/2 hours with him after the show. He was in great spirits. He was a dear friend and a great person and what an entertainer. He was short of breath but he had a standing ovation ... The place was packed."
Promoter-producer who says Don Ho's name "is synonymous with Hawaii"
"He's probably the greatest ambassador other than Duke Kahanamoku that Hawaii ever had. ... He had a gift. He had magic. You could not describe it."
Retired isle columnist who wrote about Ho for many years and included a chapter about him in his autobiography
"It's just a very, very sad day for Hawaii nei, a very sad day. He was our mentor. He got me my start... He was like a big brother... He told me not too long ago all us entertainers should get together because a lot of us are leaving... Not many of us are left."
Singer who said Don Ho taught her how to be an entertainer
"He'll be missed by millions of Americans and especially a lot of people in the military because a lot of military folks used to come in and see him. He always acknowledges them... He was a legend in his own time... an icon, a major icon."
Said he "felt like a private in Don's army" as his conductor and keyboard player for six years
"Don Ho was one of Hawaii's most famous sons, who shared the aloha spirit and our unique island lifestyle with people around the world through his music, friendship and good will. ... My condolences go out to his family and his countless fans worldwide."
Gov. Linda Lingle
"They will be singing every song they know up there in heaven."
Speaking about Don Ho's relationship with his father, late Waikiki entertainer Alfred Apaka.
"He embodied the feeling that is possible for people from Hawaii to achieve greatness, to excel on an international stage. And that you can do that without forsaking your roots, heritage or your culture."
Mayor Mufi Hannemann
Estimates he watched Ho perform "over 100 times."
"Don had an international reputation and he represented Hawaii to millions. In my travels around the world, people would ask me about Don Ho. He even played Washington, D.C., when I was in the House. And I can tell you, it was a big show."
U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka