August 13 ~† No Big Thing Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar Masters

"Ain't no big thing, Bruddah." ~ Don Ho

Don Ho

Hawaii's answer to Frank Sinatra, Donald Tai Loy Ho (1930-2007), was born on this day in Honolulu, Hawaii. The father of 10 children, Ho charmed generations with his music.

The laid-back baritone crooner was an Air Force first lieutenant who flew the C-97 transport plane in the 1950s before settling down behind the organ to make music at the cozy Honey's Cocktail Lounge, on the corner of Haiku Road and Kamehameha Highway in Kaneohe.

"I was terrible," he said of his early days. "So, I just played very softly."

In 1964, five years after statehood, Ho moved to Duke's showroom and entertained almost nonstop in Waikiki for over 40 years. He became synonymous with Hawaii.

With the spirit of aloha, his shows were one big party as he encouraged his audience of tourists and locals to sing-along with his catchy songs. He'd kiss the women in the audience and after each show, the accessible star met with fans for pictures and autographs.

Trivia buffs will remember the Don Ho Show on ABC from 1976-77 and his cameo appearance on the Hawaiian episode of The Brady Bunch in 1972. He guested--usually playing himself--on dozens of other series including Batman (1966), I Dream of Jeannie (1967), and Sanford and Son (1976).

Named one of the "50 Coolest Guys Ever" by Maxim magazine, Ho began and ended each show with his signature international hit, Tiny Bubbles, first released in 1966. In latter years, when the health-conscious Ho told his audiences to "suck 'em up," he was drinking water or pineapple juice instead of Chivas Regal.

His other hits include his friend Kui Lee's Iíll Remember You, Ain't No Big Thing, With All My Love, and the Hawaiian Wedding Song, made famous by Elvis Presley in the movie Blue Hawaii.

Ho traveled to Thailand for experimental stem cell treatment to bolster his heart muscles in December 2005. Within eight weeks of the procedure, he was back onstage in Waikiki.

"The audience will let me know when to quit," he said about retirement. "The business has changed; it always will change. But we keep grooming the youngsters, try to stay in touch with the healthy aspects of life. When you work with young people, it keeps you feeling younger."

Don't sweat the small stuff.