Tau Moe

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Tau Moe
Birth name Tau Moe
Also known as Tau Moe
Born (1908-08-13)August 13, 1908
American Samoa
Died June 24, 2004(2004-06-24) (aged 95)
Laie, Hawaii
Genres Hawaiian
Occupation(s) Singer, musician
Instruments Vocals, Guitar
Years active 1920–2004
Labels Decca
Associated acts Tau Moe Family
Madame Riviere's Hawaiians
Notable instruments
Steel Guitar

Tau Moe ("Papa Tau") (pronounced Mo-ay)[2] (August 13, 1908 – June 24, 2004) was a singer and musician who formed The Tau Moe Family musical troupe which toured the globe for decades.


Tau Moe was born in American Samoa to an American Mormon missionary family of Samoan descent. He was raised in Laie, near the 1919 Mormon Laie Hawaii Temple. Tau was a graduate of McKinley High School[3] and from his travels learned to speak[4] 10 languages.

Tau's nephew Josefa Moe[5] (born 1933 – died 2006) was himself a legendary stage performer in Polynesian revues. Josefa was also the original Moki from the Hawaiian Punch commercials.

The Tau Moe Family (musical troupe)[edit]

The Tau Moe Family[6] touring troupe, consisted of Tau Moe, guitar and bass vocals; Rose Moe, lead vocals; Lani Moe, ukulele and vocals; Dorian Moe, second guitar and vocals; and were accompanied at least once by Bob Brozman,[7] Hawaiian guitar and harp guitar. The Tau Moe Family was included in the [8] American Folk Music and Folklore Recordings. The troupe performed for international figures including Winston Churchill, Adolf Hitler, Aristotle Onassis, Mohandas Gandhi and King Farouk.

Moe was an influential pioneer of the Hawaiian steel guitar who along with his wife Rose formed the core of troupe.[9] The group's success coincided with increased interest in Polynesia due in part to colonialism, and exemplified by cultural fads like Tiki bars and Tiki culture. The Tau Moe Family helped break the race barrier in the United States. In the late 1940s, the troupe assisted paramedics during riots[10] in India.

When the Royal Hawaiian Hotel opened in 1927, Moe was a steel guitar player[11] in the hotel. He met his wife Rose Kaohu, she of Hawaiian ancestry, when she was a singer-dancer with Madame Riviere's Hawaiians that Tau and his uncles had joined. In 1928, Tau and Rose joined Madame Riviera in Manila and married shortly thereafter. By 1930 they had broken away to form The Tau Moe Family. Tau and Rose spent the next half century touring the world and raising their children Lani (born in Japan) and Dorian (born in India). Rose was afflicted with Alzheimer's disease in late life and died[12] in 1998.

World War II[edit]

Son Lani (born in Japan 1929 – died in Honolulu 2002),[3][13] a child celebrity in his time, had helped raise funds for a German orphanage charity and was selected to ride in Adolf Hitler's car during a parade.

The Moe family helped smuggle a friend's valuables out of Germany, partially by Rose wearing three fur coats[3] and explaining to the border guards that people from Hawaii were not acclimated to the cold in Germany. Tau and Rose and family were very compassionate, helping Jews escape[14] from Germany prior to World War II, by dressing them up in the Tau family's stage costumes. During one horrific event, when the family lived over a Jewish-owned bookstore, the Moe family were forced to be helpless witnesses when the Gestapo made a late-night raid burning the store's contents and eventually tossing the Jewish owners on top of the fire to be burned alive. The Gestapo had learned of the Moe family's underground efforts on behalf of the Jews and were in transit to arrest the family when, warned by friends, the family slipped out the stage back door and escaped.

Tau had more children with another woman in Denmark. Here he had a son called Lanni Tau Moe and two daughters named Lei Aloha Moe and Tina Lupe Moe. They also became musicians and formed a band called Skunk Funk.


  • Twilight in Hawaii: Legends of Hawaiian Music (2002) CD 90203 (Sounds of the World)
  • Paradise Isle (2001) CD HQ CD 162 (Harlequin UK)
  • Ho'Omana'o I Na Mele O Ka Wa U'i (Remembering the Songs of Our Youth) (1992) CD 6028 (Rounder)
  • E-Liliu-E, Hula / South Sea Sadie 78 RPM F.B. 3512 (Columbia Graphaphone)



2004 (Tau Moe as an individual) Living Treasures of Hawai'i[4] - Honpa Hongwanji Mission of Hawaii


  1. ^ "The Rounder Family of Artists". Billboard: 48. 6 May 1995. 
  2. ^ "The Tau Moe Family". Rhapsody International Inc. Retrieved 27 May 2010. 
  3. ^ a b c Vorsino, Mary (26 January 2004). "Isle Musician Tau Moe Saved Lives in Holocaust". Honolulu Star-Bulletin. 
  4. ^ a b "Living Treasurers". Honolulu Star-Bulletin. 25 January 2004. 
  5. ^ Harada, Wayne (11 November 2006). "Josefa Moe". Honolulu Star-Advertiser. 
  6. ^ Broughton, Simon (2000). The Rough Guide to World Music. p. 61. ISBN 978-1-85828-790-4. 
  7. ^ Bogdanov, Vladimir; Woodstra, Chris; Erlewine, Stephen Thomas (2003). All Music Guide to the Blues: The Definitive Guide to the Blues. Backbeat Books. p. 81. ISBN 978-0-87930-736-3. 
  8. ^ "American Folk Music and Folklore Recordings: A Selected List 1989". The Library of Congress. Retrieved 27 May 2010. 
  9. ^ "Hawaiian Music - A Brief History". Surfing for Life. Retrieved 27 May 2010. 
  10. ^ Frietag, Sandria B (1990). Collective Action and Community: Public Arenas and the Emergence of Communalism in North India. Univ of California. pp. 93–97. ISBN 978-0-520-06439-3. 
  11. ^ Borecca, Richard; Brozman, Robert (3 June 1996). "All the World Was Their Stage". Honolulu Star-Bulletin. 
  12. ^ "Rose Moe". Find A Grave. Retrieved 27 May 2010. 
  13. ^ "Lani K Moe". Find A Grave. Retrieved 27 May 2010. 
  14. ^ "Deaths Elsewhere". Rome News-Tribune. 2 July 2004. 

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