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Makaha Sons bassist John Koko dies at 51

June 27, 2012
The Associated Press

HONOLULU (AP) - John Koko, vocalist and bass player of Makaha Sons, died Monday, his brother said.

Koko had battled heart problems since childhood and was moving forward with plans for a heart transplant, said his older brother, Jerome Koko. He was 51.

"He was fun-loving. The fans around the world, they know," Jerome Koko said Tuesday. "He lit up everybody's life."

The Nanakuli, Oahu, native joined the Makaha Sons of Niihau in 1982. The group, which formed in 1976, has gone through several reorganizations. When John Koko entered the group, he joined brother Jerome, Moon Kauakahi and the world-famous Israel Kamakawiwoole, who died at age 38 in 1997 from complications associated with morbid obesity.

After Kamakawiwoole died, the group shortened its name to Makaha Sons.

Career highlights included three performances at New York City's Carnegie Hall and before President Bill Clinton, Jerome Koko recalled. Winning numerous Na Hoku Hanohano awards, the band released more than 20 albums, including the compilation titled "Heke Wale No - Only the Very Best of the Makaha Sons."

In the last six to eight months, Koko started to show signs of fatigue onstage. "He was a fighter," his brother said.

His survivors include his wife, Tonia; sons John Jr., Jordon, Jerman and Jerry; and two grandchildren.



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