Don Ho


Peter Gabriel's "Shock The Monkey"


Don Ho employed his talents as a "middle of the road" pop singer and musical ambassador for Hawaii to launch a mainland career that included half a dozen chart albums, numerous television appearances, and engagements at top venues starting in the mid-1960s. He was born in Kakaako, a small neighborhood in Honolulu on the island of Oahu in Hawaii and grew up in the city of Kaneohe, also on Oahu. After a stint in the Air Force, he took over a cocktail lounge in Kaneohe named Honey's, after his mother. There he started a band, eventually called the Aliis, with himself as singer and organist. In 1962, he moved to the Oahu resort district of Waikiki, where he played in a nightclub called Duke's. There he began to come to the attention of the mainland entertainment business. He was signed to Reprise Records, which released his debut album, Don Ho Show, in 1965. His second album, a live collection called Don Ho - Again!, reached the charts in March 1966, but it was the release of "Tiny Bubbles" that fall which really broke him in record stores. The single placed in the pop and the easy listening charts, stimulating sales of a Tiny Bubbles LP that made the top 20 and stayed in the charts nearly a year.

Subsequent records didn't do as well, but another live LP, Suck 'em Up (the title referring to his onstage exhortation to the audience to drink heartily), gave him his fourth chart album in the spring of 1969.

Ho's record sales declined after the late 1960s, but he continued to perform extensively and to appear on television, notably on episodes of The Brady Bunch, Charlie's Angels, and The Fall Guy. From October 1976 to March 1977, he hosted a half-hour daytime variety series, The Don Ho Show, broadcast over ABC-TV. By the 1990s, he had launched his own label, Honey Records, to release his recordings and others by island favorites. He continued to make occasional TV appearances, in 1996 had a small part in the film Joe's Apartment, and he performed regularly at his own club in Hawaii.

William Ruhlman

All Music Guide