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Kika KilaHow the Hawaiian Steel Guitar Changed the Sound of Modern Music$
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John W. Troutman

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9781469627922

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469627922.001.0001

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Holly-Hawaiians, Electric Guitars, and Glass Ceilings

Holly-Hawaiians, Electric Guitars, and Glass Ceilings

(p.130) 5 Holly-Hawaiians, Electric Guitars, and Glass Ceilings
Kika Kila

John W. Troutman

University of North Carolina Press

This chapter focuses upon the interwar years, when musicians and dancers formed a strong Pacific Islander community in Southern California, one that fostered a sense of camaraderie and belonging, and enabled them to work in the motion picture studios and nightclubs that increasingly sought their labor. It also traces this community’s role in influencing guitar design innovations exhibited by Weissenborn, National, and Rickenbacker guitars, which led to the first mass produced electric guitar. Hawaiian musicians such as Sol Ho‘opi‘i, Eddie Bush, and Dick, Al, and Lani McIntire thrived in Hollywood and later in New York City at the Hotel Lexington during this period, although they continued to face significant challenges. While they expanded the American public’s interest in the steel guitar, particularly through the new mediums of radio, “Polynesian” clubs, and motion pictures, they continued to face an industry unwilling to acknowledge their talent and strong work ethic and uninterested in distinguishing their music from the offensive, pseudo-Hawaiian songs peddled by non-Hawaiian songwriters.

Keywords:   Sol Ho‘opi‘i, Dick McIntire, Lani McIntire, Eddie Bush, Early Hollywood, Weissenborn Guitar, National String Instrument Company, Rickenbacker Guitar, Electric Guitar, Polynesian Clubs

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