Joseph Kekuku

Joseph Kekuku (* 1874 in Laie on Oahu, Hawaii Kingdom when Joseph Kekukuupenakanaiaupuniokamehameha Apuakehau, † 1932 in Boston, Massachusetts ) was an Hawaiian musician. He is considered the inventor of the Hawaiian guitar, whose strings are played with a metal rod. His real name translates as the Watchers of the networks that surround the Kingdom of Kamehameha.


Grew up in Laie, Kekuku went into the Kamekameha School. At age eleven, he began playing guitar. After he was referring to the strings with various objects, he was very impressed with the wistful tone that brought forth the metal rod. He first only in Hawaii, where his new style of guitar was quickly adopted. Around 1905, he began with a vaudeville a tour of the USA, which led to a real Hawaiian music boom. Even in Europe, he has performed and taught how to deal with his instrument. Soon the steel guitar was more popular than any other instrument and has been adopted in various other music genres like country music.

Kekuku Joseph died in 1932 in Boston at the age of 58 years. His grave is located in Dover, New Jersey. He was inducted into the Hawaiian Music Hall of Fame posthumously in 1995.