Award-winning Hawaiian music artist James ‘Bla’ Pahinui dies at 76

Local News

Courtesy Pahinui ohana

HONOLULU (KHON2) — Award-winning Hawaiian music and longtime recording artist James Daniel ‘Bla’ Pahinui died on Wednesday, July 24, according to his family.

“He was just everything,” said his wife Kathleen Elliot-Pahinui. “He was my best friend. He was everything to me. I am brokenhearted.”

He passed away in his home in Waialua at 12:58 p.m. with family and friends by his side.

Bla was born in Honolulu Sept. 14, 1942, as the fourth-oldest child, and the second-oldest son of Emily Pahinui and Gabby ‘Pops’ Pahinui, the well-known Hawaiian slack-key guitar player.

He is survived by his wife Kathleen, daughter Kamaka and hanai daughters Sara and Jessica.

He learned how to play from his father and eventually accompanied him on stage, playing iconic songs like “Waimanalo Blues.”

Bla is best known for his unique style of guitar playing: upside down and backwards. He taught himself how to play guitar this way because he was left-handed.

Services will be at Mililani Mortuary. The date is to be determined.

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