In a 2003 interview for Vintage Guitar magazine, Mary Kaye (born Malia Ka'aihue in Detroit, Michigan) claimed to be descended from Hawaiian Queen Liliuokalani, through her father Johnny Kaʻaihue (Johnny Ukulele) whom she claimed was "pure Hawaiian" and stated, "he was the son of Prince Kuhio, Queen Liliuokalani's cousin." However, according to the genealogy Liliuokalani put in her biography, her brothers were King David Kalākaua and Prince William Pitt Leleiohoku II. Neither Liliuokalani nor her brothers had any biological children.
The Mary Kaye Trio is credited with founding the Las Vegas "lounge" phenomenon at the Last Frontier in 1953 : an all-night party atmosphere where stars and common folk rubbed elbows in a freewheeling environment.
Mary Kaye died in a Las Vegas hospital of pulmonary disease on February 17, 2007.
Her son Jay Kaye, born in St. Louis, Missouri in 1953, was also a musician. In 1968, at the age of 15, he put out his first LP, Suddenly One Summer. Now a cult psychedelic album, it received little notice or airplay upon its release. He later moved to Mallorca, Spain, where he was a prominent part of the local music scene through the 1990s and 2000s. Jay died in Spain in 2015.
Mary was photographed with her equal partners Frank Ross and Norman Kaye (her brother, born Norman Ka'aihue) of the Mary Kaye Trio, in a 1956 Fender promotional advertisement featuring a new Stratocaster electric guitar. This ash blonde guitar with maple neck and gold hardware later became popularly known as "The Mary Kaye Strat." Only a few were produced in 1956, but the color has been re-introduced to the Fender line after the strong international demand for the Mary Kaye color scheme. A limited Custom Shop series Mary Kaye Tribute Strat was issued in 2005. In 2007 a 57 Reissue Mary Kaye Strat was released for the 50th anniversary of the Stratocaster. The Custom Shop release can be seen in the 2005 Fender Frontline Catalog along with her personal history as interviewed by Fender.
Endorsement Model (MK 001)
In 2003, Mary Kaye received the first officially recognized "Mary Kaye" American Stratocaster, gifted by the Fender Custom Shop. This instrument marks Fenders first official recognition of a "Mary Kaye" model. This instrument, serial MK 001, can be additionally noted by the instruments back plate reading "To Mary Kaye From Your Friends at Fender". The instrument is currently listed with online luxury retailer Luxify.com and their broker INTMIX—The International Musical Instrument Exchange who produced an in-depth look at the instrument, narrated by Mary Kaye's nephew John Kaye.
- Buster. "The Mary Kaye Trio". Retrieved 7 August 2013.
- Nelson, Valerie. "Obituary of Mary Kaye". LA Times. Retrieved 7 August 2013.
- Moseley, Willie G. (August 2003). "Mary Kaye: Beyond the Stratocaster Connection". Vintage Guitar. Retrieved February 21, 2017.
- Liliuokalani, Queen (1898). Hawaii's story by Hawaii's Queen, Liliuokalani. Boston, MA: Lothrop, Lee and Shepard Co. pp. 399–400 – via HathiTrust.
- "Offspring of lounge legend takes chance on LV", Las Vegas Sun, May 5, 2006
- "Jay Kaye, the 'bluesman' who fell in love with Mallorca, dies", Dia Rio de Mallorca (Spanish Language), February 10, 2015
- The MK Strat Story on the Fender homepage Archived 2012-02-14 at the Wayback Machine