Peter Moon, an ukulele virtuoso, businessman and composer who contributed to a revival of Hawaiian music in the 1970s, died Feb. 17. He was 73.
George Darby, president of Moon’s record label, Kanikapila Records, said Sunday that he did not know Moon’s cause of death and that the family already held a private funeral service. Moon’s family could not be reached for comment.
According to entertainment observers, Moon had been in a Honolulu care home for about a decade due to an illness. Kanikapila Records said Moon had not performed or been seen in public since 2005.
Moon was a self-taught ukulele and slack key guitar player and debuted on the album “Meet Palani Vaughan and the Sunday Manoa” in 1968.
He continued recording with Sunday Manoa, which by the early 1970s comprised himself and Robert and Roland Cazimero, to create three acclaimed albums of contemporary Hawaiian music: “Guava Jam,” “Cracked Seed” and “The Sunday Manoa 3.”
Darby said Moon’s early albums with the Cazimero brothers were the “wellspring (of) the Hawaiian Renaissance.”
John Berger, writing in “Hawaiian Music &Musicians: An Encyclopedic History,” said Moon was a major figure in the history of contemporary Hawaiian music.
“No individual made a bigger individual contribution to the music of the Hawaiian Renaissance than Peter Moon,” he wrote.
After Sunday Manoa split up, Moon formed the Peter Moon Band, which released its first album, “Tropical Storm,” in 1979. The album garnered five awards, including album of the year and group of the year, at the Na Hoku Hanohano Awards.
In 1970 Moon also started an annual Hawaiian music concert called Kanikapila at Andrews Amphitheater at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. The event ran until 1995 and provided a place for up-and-coming musicians and dancers to gain exposure.
Moon started his own record label in 1982 and continued to release more albums with the Peter Moon Band until 2005. In the early 2000s he began teaching ukulele and slack key guitar. He was inducted into the Hawaiian Music Hall of Fame in 2007.
Moon, of Korean and Chinese descent, was born in Honolulu and graduated from Roosevelt High School and the University of Hawaii at Manoa in 1968 with a bachelor’s degree in English literature.
He is survived by son Peter W.K. Moon and other family members.