Steel Guitar legend Edward Kauka "Eddie" Palama, Sr., passed away on June 26, 2018. First notifications of his passing came from several Facebook posts on June 26. Eddie was 72.
Eddie had faced health challenges for the past year. In 2017 he underwent chemotherapy treatments for cancer and was not able to appear at the Hawaiian Steel Guitar Association's Fort Collins September conference as he previously intended. He was, however, able to perform as a featured artist at the 2017 Kaua'i Steel Guitar Festival, the 2017 Hawaiian Steel Guitar Festival at Windward Mall, and at the 2017 Waikiki Steel Guitar Week.
Born August 5, 1946 in Honolulu, Territory of Hawaii to William and Elizabeth Palama, Eddie is survived by his wife of 51 years, Rosalie; sons, Edward Jr., Calvin, Robert, James Stanley, Keaka Stanley; daughters, Peggy Chun, Mandy Antonio, and Christine Adolpho.
Eddie was a self-taught steel guitarist. He found his first steel guitar in a public trash bin late in life. He cleaned it off and added strings to it. For about a year of extensive practicing day and night, Eddie taught himself to play the steel guitar. He joined the Musicians Union and became a professional steel guitar player the following year.
Eddie played the steel guitar with some of Hawai'i's greatest Hawaiian music legends such as Gabby Pahinui, Atta Isaacs, Sonny Chillingworth, Genoa Keawe, Eddie Kamai and Danny Kaleikini. Eddie also recorded for many of the top recording artists in Hawaii such as the Peter Moon Band, Olomana, Teresa Bright, Kihei Brown, Keith and Carmen Haugen, Sandwich Isle Band, Hawaii Loa and Pahinui Brothers. At times, Eddie also performed at the Hawaiian Village Hotel, the Halekulani Hotel and at other venues in Honolulu. Eddie also appeared at numerous steel guitar festivals in Maui, Waikiki, and the Windward Mall.
Eddie appeared in the 2011 and 2012 Legends of Steel Concerts in Waikiki that honored steel guitar legends of the past. These concerts were produced by the former Maiki Ai'u Foundation and featured many contemporary Hawaiian steel guitarists playing selections of the masters.
Many of Eddie's musician friends weighed in on Facebook.
Dwight Kanae reminisces, "A Kane'ohe resident for many years. Me, Eddie and Peter Moon recorded a couple CD's together. Songs like 'Palama Shuffle' that Eddie wrote, 'Sands','My Sweet Sweetie', 'Sanoe', 'Pua Lililehua', 'Koali' are just a few tunes I loved that Eddie played on steel, but my favorite was a duet that we recorded for Peter Moon on the 'Ho'i Hou' CD called: 'SLEEPWALK'."
Slack key and steel guitarist Elmer "Sonny" Lim said, "I met him at the first concert I played with the Makaha Sons of Ni'ihau for the Waihole/Waikane Concert in '76! He was with the Sandwich Isle Band!"
Kumu Hula Lee Puake'ala Malakaua Mann said of Eddie, "He was our steel guitarist at the Moana Surfrider for many years, and was really the best one…he'd even sing, too. He was always a gentleman. He'd come with his shirts neatly starched and ironed, with a crease at the top collar button (by his wife he'd say). And he reminded me to wait a few seconds whenever the traffic light turned green because someone would always want to run the red. Many long talks with his gentle voice. How I'll miss him. Ke aloha no, Uncle Eddie."
Services will be held at Hawaiian Memorial Park Mortuary in Kane'ohe on Friday, July 27, 2018 with visitation at 5 pm and service at 5:30 pm.
September 7-9, 2018 - Mauna Lani Bay Hotel and Bungalows, Kohala Coast, Hawai'i
Hawaiian Steel Guitar Festival at Ka Makana Ali'i
February 16, 2019 (tentative) - Ka Makana Ali'i Shopping Center, Kapolei
Kaua'i Steel Guitar Festival
March 1-2, 2019 - Courtyard Kaua'i at Coconut Beach, Kapa'a, Kaua'i
Maui Steel Guitar Camp
TBD (tentative) - Ka'anapali Beach Hotel, Lahaina, Maui
Maui Steel Guitar Festival
TBD - Ka'anapali Beach Hotel, Lahaina, Maui
TBD - Queen Ka'ahumanu Center, Kahului, Maui
Hawaiian Steel Guitar Festival at Windward Mall
June 8, 2019 (tentative) - Windward Mall, Kaneohe
Royal Hawaiian Center Presents Waikiki Steel Guitar Week
July 8-13, 2019 (tentative)
Monday-Thursday - Nightly Evening Performances
Friday-Saturday - Festival Ho'olaule'a Performances
Royal Grove Stage, Royal Hawaiian Center, Waikiki
Hawaiian Steel Guitar Festival at Kahala Mall - Keiki Style
August, 2019 TBD - Kahala Mall, Honolulu
HIMELE is a Hawai'i non-profit corporation that supports music enrichment and education for people of all ages. Our purpose is to educate, promote, and perpetuate Hawaiian music, Hawaiian culture and Hawaiian musical instruments.