Don Ho debuts
For many, Don Ho - his songs, his style - is synonymous with Hawai`i. His smooth voice and sophisticated stage patter have entertained generations of locals as well as mainland audiences and have earned him an international following.
A true local boy, Ho was born in Honolulu's Kaka`ako neighborhood to parents of Hawaiian, Chinese, Portuguese, Dutch and German extraction. Raised in Kaneohe, he got his start as a professional musician playing at Honey's, his family's cocktail lounge in windward O`ahu. Ho started by playing in a band made up of his friends. As Ho describes it, "I was terrible. So, I just played very softly."
Ho, playing organ and singing, continued to grow musically, learning from the musicians he hired for his shows. In 1962, he got his big break when he and The Aliis were asked to play at Duke's in Waikiki. They began to pack in large crowds for their shows, tourists and locals coming in droves to enjoy the party atmosphere and the music.
It didn’t take Don Ho long – singing his trademark "Tiny Bubbles" – to burst on the national scene with his lounge act. In 1966, a two-week engagement at the Coconut Grove in Hollywood broke attendance records. Later he was a featured performer at The Sands in Las Vegas, Harrah's in Lake Tahoe, Palmer House in Chicago, and Americana Hotel's Royal Box in New York. Ho augmented his live act with TV appearances with Johnny Carson, Joey Bishop and Art Linkletter. He also hosted his own hour-long TV special.
Today Ho is an institution. At 70, he still performs five nights a week (currently at the Waikiki Beachcomber Hotel), proving from his place on the stage that he still knows how to entertain and charm an audience.