Aloha, Don Ho

Don Ho, an entertainer who defined popular perceptions of Hawaiian music in the 1960s and held fast to that image as a peerless Waikiki nightclub attraction, has taken his Final Taxi at 76.

The first time I ever saw Don Ho was on that episode of the Brady Bunch when they get to take a trip to Hawaii. You remember the one where Bobby unearths an ancient tiki said to bring bad luck to whomever is holding it.

Later when watching an old 1966 Adam West “Batman” show while it was in syndication I spotted Don Ho again. I wiped the drool from my chin while watching Julie Newmar as  Catwoman just as Don Ho made a walk on role.

He was on several other TV shows throughout the years and  was a durable spokesman for the image of Hawaii as a tourist  playground. His rise as a popular singer dovetailed with a visitor  boom that followed statehood in 1959 and the advent of affordable air travel. For 40 years, his name was synonymous with Pacific Island leisure, as was “Tiny Bubbles,” his signature hit, which helped turn him into a national figure.

Born Donald Tai Loy Ho in the Honolulu enclave of Kaka’ako, Mr. Ho had an ethnic background worthy of the islands’ melting-pot ideal: he was of Hawaiian, Chinese, Portuguese, Dutch and German descent. He grew up in Kaneohe, on the windward side of the island of Oahu, and it was there that he began his singing career at Honey’s, a restaurant and
lounge owned by his mother, Emily and later he took it over.

By 1962 he was headlining there with a backing group called the Ali’is. Their blend of two guitars, piano, drums and xylophone, along with Mr. Ho’s Hammond organ, was well suited to the breezy pop sound of the era. Within five years, Mr. Ho had achieved nationwide fame with several successful albums and a hit single, “Tiny Bubbles.” A full decade
before Jimmy Buffett’s “Margaritaville,” the song painted an appealing portrait of tropical indulgence that cemented Mr. Ho’s character as an  easygoing romantic rogue. He adhered to that character in his frequent television appearances in the late 1960s and early ’70s, and on his own ABC variety series, “The Don Ho Show,” from 1976 to 1977.

 He performing on a weekly basis and lunching at Don Ho’s Island Grill, a restaurant in which he was a partner that opened in 1998. Last September Mr. Ho took medical leave to have a new pacemaker installed.

He was recently doing voiceovers  for the Scooby-Doo cartoons.


Frank Tovey – 5 Years without a new Fad Gadget.

I can not believe that is has been five years since the death of my favorite musician.


Frank Tovey, an innovative English musician who recorded electronic and industrial music in the 1980’s using the name Fad Gadget, died on April 3 2002. Tovey was a artist, a poet, a lyricist, a pioneer, an innovator, a composer, a experimentalist, a storyteller, a father, a husband, and a friend.


Influenced by Lou Reed, Iggy Pop and Marc Bolan, Tovey formed his first band in high school. He attended St. Martin’s School of Art and then studied performance art at

Leeds Polytechnic. He returned to London, where he lived with the

Artist known as Savage Pencil.


There, he began to make music on a drum machine and an electronic

piano. At the time, across Britain, punk rock was being subverted by

electronic-instrument-wielding art school students into an experimental pop

that was both more macabre and more romantic.

Acts like Cabaret Voltaire, Human League and Depeche Mode (who open for him on his first tour) were beginning to emerge, and. Tovey soon joined their

Ranks in 1979 when he was the first artist signed to the innovative

Independent label Mute. Daniel Miller first printed a single with his band The Normal ( Warm Leatherette) and was influenced by Tovey to start the new label.


Using the name Fad Gadget, he released four albums, which were marked

by dark electronic funk topped by Mr. Tovey’s distinct British accent.

Half speaking and half singing, he delivered wry editorials on

politics, society and love, painting a dark dystopia fueled by technology.


I remember getting the first 45 of Ricky’s Hand. It was the talk of all the major critics as Tovey used an electric drill as a musical instrument.



“A view from my window/A motorway intersection,” he sang on his

Breakthrough album, “Under the Flag.” “Exhaust pipes at pram level/Now playgrounds

Are carparks.”


In 1981 he recorded an album with the industrial-music noisemaker Boyd

Rice, which was released years later as “Easy Listening for the Hard of

Hearing.” He also recorded with Mute Records founder Daniel Miler and release a LP of 50’s and 60’s cover songs done in an electronic sound called the Silicon Teens.


On tour Tovey’s performances were often highly intense and theatrical.


In 1985 Mr. Tovey began to record for Mute using his own name, making

An effort for the first time to learn how to play acoustic instruments.


After an industrial-dance side project, MKultra, he took a new

approach to his condemnation of industrialization by rounding up a mostly acoustic

band for 1989’s “Tyranny and the Hired Hand,” a collection of new and old

protest and labor songs like “Joe Hill” and “Sixteen Tons.”


Recruiting a backing band called the Pyros, with Paul Rodden on

Electric banjo, he tried his own hand at such material with a wry, rootsy look

at postwar, post-yuppie England on “Grand Union” two years later.


In 1993 Tovey and the Pyros released “Worried Men in Secondhand

Suits” and then took a long hiatus.


In 2001 he was asked to tour and began to opening act for Depeche Mode the band who opened for him on his first tour.

Tovey was honor on April 1st of 2002 for his influence in Electonica. His peers gave him that honor. Two days later he was found death from a heart attack.

He was working on a new album at the time of his death.


Go find the new DVD/ CD collection of his work called Fad Gadget by Frank Tovey.

4 disks for under 25 dollars.