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Tiki Central Forums Tiki Music Did Anyone Here Ever See Don Ho Live?
Did Anyone Here Ever See Don Ho Live?
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Feb 02, 2006
Posts: 422
Posted: 2011-09-25 2:56 pm   Permalink

And if so, can you tell us about the experience? E.g. year, venue, crowd, band, set list, etc.

I am developing a strange obsession with Don Ho. Not sure if that's a good or bad thing.

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Grand Member (6 years)  

Joined: Sep 20, 2009
Posts: 696
From: Flagler Beach, FL
Posted: 2011-09-25 4:32 pm   Permalink

OnyaBirri, Pat and I saw Don Ho at the Waikiki Beachcomber Hotel on Oahu in August of 1998. It was an intimate dinner club setting with Don Ho sitting at an organ and alternately singing his signature songs, telling stories, cracking jokes and exchanging quips with the audience.

It was a great evening, and, after the show, Don Ho individually engaged every attendee in greeting and thanks, and to make a bit of small talk. He was fun to be with, a charming and consummate entertainer. Most memorable: his haunting rendition of Kui Lee's "I'll Remember You."


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Tiki Socialite

Joined: Aug 06, 2003
Posts: 535
From: Waikiki Beach, Hawaii
Posted: 2011-09-26 4:04 pm   Permalink

I did see Don Ho show once live when I had a friend with connections to the staff back in the mid 1980s. It was still at the Hilton Hawaiian Aluminum Dome. Honestly, I don't recall that much except he seemed quite drunk (which was most likly put on as his style) and was NEVER a great singer...mostly a charmer. We did go backstage & I met him very briefly and hung out a bit with two twin brothers who were featured acts with him at the time..don't recall their names..Dela Cruz Brothers or something maybe. Actually, my friend was friend with the brothers & we all went out for drinks afterwards. That was the only time i ever saw Don Ho live. Sorry I don't remember more..

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Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jul 07, 2002
Posts: 837
From: Neskowin, OR
Posted: 2011-09-27 10:01 am   Permalink

My family was in Honolulu in 1960 and 1963, staying at the Hilton Hawaiian Village on the first trip and The Reef Towers the next time. I think we saw Don Ho in '63 and I want to say we saw his dinner show at the International Marketplace which would be a short walk from The Reef Towers on Lewers Street. I remember Ho was late to come on and seemed pretty hammered. My main recollection is my parent's discomfort when Don asked several couples to take the dance floor and then had them kiss while dancing. It was an odd spectacle, kind of like an eighth grade make-out party. Otherwise, despite the delay, it was pretty cool to see a live show with a famous headliner.

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Tonga Tiki
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Nov 14, 2006
Posts: 186
From: The Tonga Lounge in Safety Harbor, FL
Posted: 2011-10-02 2:35 pm   Permalink

I was all set to check him out on my first trip to Hawaii. As I exited the plane and walked into the gate area I looked at the headlines of the local paper. He had died the night before. I didn't attend, but the tv news showed a very nice memorial service on Waikiki beach.

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Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 24, 2008
Posts: 294
From: Ka'a'awa, HI
Posted: 2011-10-30 07:22 am   Permalink

Having lived over 20 years on Oahu before setting foot in Waikiki I never had much chance of seeing Don's big show, and musically not all that interested, but he's The Man(!) and in 2000 he played a full show with The Alii's in his intimate harborfront room 'Don Ho's Island Grill', and I lucked upon the vantage point to watch Don use a lyric teleprompter for songs he's sung millions of times. But the show was retro-awesome and had real musical power, back to the days when he was first exploding. He was really funny too, especially if you could understand him.

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Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 14, 2007
Posts: 271
From: San Diego
Posted: 2011-10-30 08:45 am   Permalink

I saw him live in Honolulu in November 2004. I was there with my husband and my parents celebrating our 10th wedding anniversary. Don put on a great show in a small venue, probably only 100 or so patrons. He sat up front in a big rattan chair with a keyboard in front of him that had two old school telephones on it. One was red. Between songs he kept chatting on these phones and I swear the red one was the direct line to the bar to bring him another drink. He was hilarious but totally sauced through the entire show.

After the show he went into the hallways to greet everyone as we left. My Mom got a couple of free cassettes from him and I believe he autographed them for he rand her sister.

[ This Message was edited by: catmomma 2011-10-30 08:47 ]

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Tiki Socialite

Joined: Feb 02, 2006
Posts: 422
Posted: 2011-10-31 04:14 am   Permalink

Thanks all!

So the Aliis were still with him as late as 2000? Were any of the same people from the 60s lineup there? I have two of their 1960s Reprise albums without Don Ho and they are amazing: Hi-Los-style vocal harmonies and Martin Denny-esque instrumentation.

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Tiki Socialite

Joined: Aug 06, 2003
Posts: 535
From: Waikiki Beach, Hawaii
Posted: 2011-10-31 3:58 pm   Permalink

I don't exactly when the Aliis split with Don Ho to their own show, but by the 1980s the Aliis were a totally "American Pop" lounge act and had several big hits on the local Hawaii top 40 charts..purely pop, not Hawaiian at all.

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uncle trav
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Apr 27, 2005
Posts: 2292
From: Kalamazoo
Posted: 2014-05-03 6:05 pm   Permalink

My Aunt Pat passed away suddenly last summer and it was a shock to the core for our family. She was a great gal and I miss her terribly. One of the stories she told was of meeting Don Ho at one of his shows way back when. Supposedly Don was after Aunt Pat the whole time she was in Hawaii and even sent flowers and notes to her after she went home. True or not it's a great family story. I have many fond memories of my aunt and after she passed I was given this photo folder from the show. As you can see Don is putting quite the lip lock on her and a friend had to steady her by the arm. I also have a small wallet size photo that she had.

"Anyone who has ever seen them is thereafter haunted as if by a feverish dream" Karl Woermann

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Tiki Socialite

Joined: Nov 23, 2010
Posts: 1319
Posted: 2014-05-03 7:19 pm   Permalink

Sorry to hear about your aunt, Trav. She sounds like a fun lady! It's great you have these memories of her that you can share.

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Atomic Tiki Punk
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jul 19, 2009
Posts: 7048
From: Costa Misery
Posted: 2014-05-03 10:14 pm   Permalink

Saw him in the mid 1970s at a music festival in Ka'anapali, Maui

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Tiki Centralite

Joined: Oct 14, 2004
Posts: 77
From: Van Nuys, CA
Posted: 2014-05-13 4:02 pm   Permalink

Ooh, I got one for ya. He actually played a small but memorable part in my honeymoon (get your minds out of the gutter!) Like so many newlyweds in Honolulu we caught his show (Feb of '99), and the experience was just as TikiTomD described. He asked if there were any honeymooners in the audience. When I raised my hand, his man with a mic came up to me and Don asked when we we had been married. I said a month-and-a-half ago (we didn't even plan our honeymoon til after the wedding). Of course Ho's from the era where couples were virgins 'til their wedding day, and then immediately proceed to do it like crazed monkeys on their honeymoon, so he said, "Wow, a month and a half later and still on the honeymoon - this guy's Superman!" And when we met him after the show to get our picture taken with him, he recognized me and signed it "To Superman."

On the flight home, an older Hawaiian man couldn't get his bag into the overhead compartment. I helped him and he said, "Wow, how'd you do that? You're Superman!" So there ya go - old Hawaiian guys think I'm Superman. Apparently they worship me - must be some kinda cargo cult.

I was given a cassette version of his 1990 album "All My Love" for participating in the show, and amidst the love ballads was a swell novelty about Hawaii's biggest cash crop: "Who Was That Lolo Who Stole My Pacalolo?"

Gotta find that signed pic...

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Tiki Socialite

Joined: Apr 03, 2002
Posts: 5319
From: Hapa Haole Hideaway, TN
Posted: 2014-05-14 06:47 am   Permalink

A bit of Hukilau trivia:

In 2007, Holden at Tiki Farm had just done the Don Ho mug and I think some other work especially for Don and had gotten to know him. It just so happened that Don was touring the mainland and his last show was in Miami the weekend of Hukilau. Holden has always been a big fan and supporter of Hukilau and he worked with us to plan a surprise. During the Friday night party at Hukilau, Don was going to drop in, do a couple of songs and jet. A super incredible moment was about to happen that would blow minds.

Then unfortunately, Don became ill and had to cancel the last dates on his tour and this event never happened. Thank you Holden anyway! Would have been spectacular!

"Mai-Kai: History & Mystery of the Iconic Tiki Restaurant" the book

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