Sunday, February 12, 2017

Don Ho and the Ali'is – "Tiny Bubbles" (1966)

Tiny bubbles
In the wine
Make me happy
Make me feel fine

Don Ho, a Hawaiian high-school football star who became a fighter pilot, got his start as an entertainer at his parents’ Honolulu cocktail lounge after leaving the Air Force in 1959.

“Son, why don’t you go make music?” Ho’s father asked him one day, hoping that some live entertainment might attract customers to his down-at-the-heels nightspot.  

Ho turned out to be a very personable performer – sort of a Hawaiian Dean Martin.  Eventually, he moved to Duke’s, a large Waikiki nightclub, where he routinely sold out three shows a night.

Don Ho with Elvis
Ho’s signature song was “Tiny Bubbles,” which was listed on the Billboard “Hot 100” for 17 weeks, peaking at #57.  No other record has ever remained in the "Hot 100" for longer without cracking the top 50.

I wish I had a dollar for every “Tiny Bubbles” parody or Don Ho impersonation I saw on television when I was a teenager.

Ho fathered ten children – six by his first wife (they were named Donald Jr., Donalai, Dayna, Dondi, Dori and Dwight), and four by two other women.  His daughter Hoku had a top-forty single titled “Another Dumb Blonde” in 2000, and his daughter Kea has appeared in a number of movies.

Don Ho with his daughter Hoku in 2001
He was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy (deterioration of the heart muscle unrelated to coronary artery disease) and had a pacemaker implanted in 2005, when he was 75 years old.  In 2006, Ho married his longtime producer but went into cardiac arrest just a few days later.  (It must have been some honeymoon.)  

Ho’s doctors gave him a new pacemaker, but he collapsed and died of heart failure about six months later.  You can click here to read his Los Angeles Times obituary.

Here’s a live performance of “Tiny Bubbles”:

Click here to buy the song from Amazon:

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