|Biography||by John Bush|
The most popular entertainer in Hawaii until his tragic death in 1997, Israel Kamakawiwo'ole formed the traditional Makaha Sons as a teenager in the mid-'70s, went out on his own in more of a contemporary style by the 1990s, and released four immensely popular recordings before passing away just after the release of 1996's N Dis Life. Born in the Honolulu suburb of Kaimuki, Kamakawiwo'ole later moved to nearby Makaha. In allegiance to his new home, Israel formed the Makaha Sons of Ni'ihau with brother Skippy plus Louis "Moon" Kauakahi, Sam Gray and Jerome Koko. The Makaha Sons recorded No Kristo in 1976 and released five more albums during as many years, though Skippy's death of a heart attack in 1982 came as quite a blow to his younger brother. The group soldiered on, and became Hawaii's most popular traditional group with breakout albums like 1984's Puana Hou Me Ke Aloha and its follow-up, 1986's Ho'ola.