Cyril Pahinui

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Cyril Pahinui
Cyril pahinui waikiki natatorium.jpg
Pahinui performing at the Waikiki Natatorium War Memorial in 2012
Background information
Born(1950-04-21)April 21, 1950
OriginWaimānalo, Hawaii
DiedNovember 17, 2018(2018-11-17) (aged 68)
GenresHawaiian music
InstrumentsSlack-key guitar
Years active1965–2018
LabelsDancing Cat Records
Associated actsBob Brozman Peter Moon

Cyril Pahinui (April 21, 1950 – November 17, 2018)[1] was a slack-key guitarist and singer of Hawaiian music.


He was born in Waimānalo at the foot of the Ko'olau mountains on the Hawai'ian island of Oahu. He was the son of the Hawaiian guitarist (and Hawaiian Music Hall of Fame inductee) Gabby Pahinui. He has contributed to more than 35 Hawaiian musical releases and three Grammy Award-winning compilations of Hawaiian music. His 1994 album 6 & 12 String Slack Key won the Nā Hōkū Hanohano award for Instrumental Album of the Year and contains "No Ke Ano Ahiahi", perhaps the greatest 12-string kī hō'alu (slack key) and vocal recording ever made.[citation needed] His 2007 album He'eia won the Nā Hōkū Hanohano award for Island Music Album of the Year.

In 2013, Pahinui received a fellowship from the Native Arts & Culture Foundation to produce Let's Play Music! Slack Key with Cyril Pahinui & Friends, a program of traditional Hawaiian music developed for PBS Hawaii.[2] In 2014, he received a Nā Hōkū Hanohano Lifetime Achievement Award for perpetuating the craft of slack key music through performance and teaching.[3] He was awarded a National Heritage Fellowship by the National Endowment for the Arts in 2017.[4]

Early career[edit]

Pahinui began to play the ukulele at the age of 7 and learned how to play guitar from watching his father play with other Hawaiian musicians such as Leland Isaacs Sr. and Sonny Chillingworth.[5] He joined his father's band in the early 1970s, and performed on his father's early recordings for Warner Bros. Records. Cyril and his older brother Bla started a rock band, after which, Cyril Pahinui joined Sam and the Samlins, and continued to sit in with his father at shows. In 1968, Pahinui made his first record with The Sunday Manoa, a loose association of like-minded young people intent on helping perpetuate the classic Hawaiian sound. At the age of 19, his musical career was interrupted when he was drafted to Vietnam, where he served as a sergeant and section chief in the 101st Airborne Division Artillery for two years.[6] In 1975, Pahinui formed The Sandwich Isle Band, one of the first young bands to feature steel guitar and revive the jazz-inflected songs of the 1920s and 1930s. In 1979 he joined the Peter Moon Band, which also included his brother Martin. Throughout the 1980s, he continued to expand his musical horizons, especially in the C major tuning he inherited from Atta Isaacs.


  1. ^ "Legendary Hawaiian musician Cyril Pahinui dies at 68". Hawaii News Now. Honolulu, HI. November 18, 2018. Retrieved November 18, 2018.
  2. ^ "Cyril Pahinui". 2013 NACF Artist Fellowship. Native Arts & Culture Foundation. Archived from the original on April 15, 2014. Retrieved June 27, 2014.
  3. ^ "Lifetime Achievement Awards – 2014 Honorees". Hawai'i Academy of Recording Arts. May 24, 2014. Retrieved June 27, 2014.
  4. ^ "NEA National Heritage Fellowships 2017". National Endowment for the Arts. Retrieved 15 October 2017.
  5. ^ Richardson, Derk (August 23, 2001). "Picking Up The Slack Key With Cyril Pahinui". San Francisco Chronicle. Hearst Communications. Retrieved June 27, 2014.
  6. ^ Rudis, Al (August 27, 2008). "Hawaiian guitar master Cyril Pahinui will headline the E Hula Mau Festival in Long Beach". Press-Telegram News. Long Beach Press Telegram. Retrieved June 27, 2014.

External links[edit]