Tragic tale of Israel Kamakawiwoʻole – Hawaiian music icon’s fatal health battle
Hawaiian singer-songwriter and ukulele player Israel Kamakawiwoʻole has been honored today by a Google Doodle – but what happened to Israel?
Hawaiian musician Israel Kamakawiwoʻole has been the main target of today’s Google Doodle but what’s his story?
Even if you do not immediately recognize Israel’s name, you’ll know his gorgeous medley of Over the Rainbow and What an exquisite World.
The cover version of those songs has gone on to be utilized in countless films and tv series like ER, Scrubs, Glee, Lost, and Life on Mars.
In his home island of Hawaii, Israel is particularly revered, often being dubbed the “voice of Hawaii”.
Today’s animated Google Doodle is a component of Asian Pacific American Heritage month and has honored Israel and his Native Hawaiian roots.
Israel was raised within the community of Kaimuki, after being born in Honolulu in 1959.
He started playing music at the age of 11 together with his brother Skippy and cousin Allen Thornton, with all who heard him being astounded by his beautiful voice.
The budding singer had been inspired by the sounds of singers like Peter Moon and Palani Vaugh.
Studying at the University of Hawaii at Hilo, he moved to Makaha and shortly formed the Makaha Sons of Niʻihau together with his brother and a gaggle of friends.
They toured Hawaii and mainland US and released fifteen albums with great success, with Israel keen to stay native traditional styles in their music, which many saw
part of the Hawaiian Renaissance which saw a resurgence within the island’s culture.
He was always an advocate of Hawaiian independence and disliked how the tourism industry treated the native population of the island.
The band went on to release four more albums from 1976 that Israel was a part of.
Tragically, Israel’s brother Skippy died at the age of 28 in 1982 from an attack that was associated with his obesity.
Israel married childhood love Marlene within the same year, happening to possess daughter Ceslieanne “Wehi” within the next year.
He then went on to launch a successful solo career, winning financial, critical, and awards success.
His album 1993 album Facing Future included his famous medley of Over the Rainbow and What an exquisite World, which found worldwide popularity and acclaim.
The album went platinum within the US, selling over 1,000,000 copies, happening to become the biggest-selling Hawaiian album of all-time.
Sadly, like Skippy, Israel also suffered from obesity.
At one stage in his life, Israel weighed 54 st 1 lb (343 kg) and was classed as hyper-obese thanks to his large Body Mass Index.
His final years were marred with health issues caused by his obesity, facing respiratory and heart issues which resulted in emergency hospitalization on a variety of
He gave up the ghost at the age of 38 in 1997 at a hospital in Honolulu.
On the day of his funeral, 10,000 people attended the service and therefore the Hawaiian flag flew at half-mast.
When his ashes were scattered into the Pacific at Mākua Beach, thousands attended the event and highways within the country saw more honk their car horns in
A new music video of the Over the Rainbow cover was released with emotional footage from the funeral, which as of last month has accrued 900 million views on YouTube.
On May 19, 2020, Google has honored what would are Israel’s 61st birthday with a cartoon video of Israel’s life together with his beloved cover of the classic Wizard of Oz song.
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