Maui Arts & Entertainment

“Music Legends on Maui” features 80 interviews compiled over 40 years

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“Music Legends on Maui: Conversations with Icons of Rock, Country, Jazz, Blues, Hawaiian, Soul & Reggae in Paradise.” Front cover photo by Brian Byrnes of Jimi Hendrix playing on Maui in the 1970s.

A new book entitled “Music Legends on Maui: Conversations with Icons of Rock, Country, Jazz, Blues, Hawaiian, Soul & Reggae in Paradise,” features more than 80 interviews compiled over the course of 40 years.

Its author, Jon Woodhouse, says the book presents intriguing profiles of many icons, from Willie Nelson, Prince, and Paul Simon, to B.B. King, Herbie Hancock, and Joan Baez, with unique insights into their creative and spiritual paths.

“Here are innovative trailblazers, prophets, revolutionaries, and influential artists who have shaped the course of music into the 21st century, with many referencing how the Hawaiian islands impacted them,” according to a news release announcing the publication.


“I think we all get the energy from the same guy and it’s important to spread it around,” Willie Nelson said during an interview, featured in the book, at his Maui home. “As I get older, I began to realize that we were feeding off each other, and we’re all feeding off the big dynamo in the sky. It’s what makes us all get out and have energy. I think that’s why Hawai‘i is so good and Maui in particular, because it is the place to come and get what you need, for your spirit or your body, whatever’s wrong – physical, mental, or spiritual.”

Jon Woodhouse (left) and Willie Nelson (right) taken by Annie Nelson. The photo is on the book’s back cover.

More than 80 interviews are arranged in genre chapters, opening with a “Maui Nō Ka ‘Oi,” section devoted to acclaimed artists who live or lived on Maui. Other sections include “Troubadours,” “California Dreaming,” “Take Me to the River,” “Mele o Hawaiʻi,” “Sundown in Nashville,” “Rock & Roll Music,” “Round Midnight,” “Why I Sing the Blues,” and “Reggae Got Soul,” plus an extensive bibliography and photos.

Offering a unique social/cultural history, it covers civil rights, segregation, environmental movements, Hawaiian sovereignty, and the power of music to inspire and raise consciousness. Harry Belafonte confronting the KKK, Carl Perkins defending the “Devil’s rock” music, Joan Baez at the March on Washington, John Lennon protesting censorship, Hugh Masekela and apartheid, Willie Nelson championing small farmers, Bonnie Raitt at Standing Rock, and the impact of TM on the Beatles, the Beach Boys, and The Doors.


Artists covered include Fleetwood Mac, Aerosmith, Steely Dan, Alice Cooper, Bo Diddley, George Harrison, John Lennon, Jimi Hendrix, Smokey Robinson, Eagles, Buffy Sainte-Marie, Crosby, Stills & Nash, Bonnie Raitt, Santana, James Taylor, Grateful Dead, Beach Boys, Miranda Lambert, The Supremes, Chaka Khan, Charley Pride, Dizzy Gillespie, and Chick Corea.

“Maui was always where my mind went. It’s other worldly,” said Steven Tyler of Aerosmith in the book. “The life I have I love the attention and I love playing shows and going places and everybody knows your name, but it’s a bit much. So the times I get to come here it’s been outrageous. I come here and drop to my knees and thank God.”

The Mele o Hawaiʻi section includes Eddie Kamae, Israel “Iz” Kamakawiwaoʻole, Henry Kapono, Keola Beamer, Kealiʻi Reichel, Willie K, Amy Hānaialiʻi, Kalani Peʻa, Raiatea Helm, Jake Shimabukuro, and Paula Fuga.


“What the world needs right now is aloha, and that’s our job. That’s what we are projecting wherever we go and play. If the world had aloha, everybody would be all right,” according to a quote from Israel “Iz” Kamakawiwao‘ole in the book.

Available on Amazon as a paperback, hardcover and kindle version, the back cover features praise from Fleetwood Mac’s Mick Fleetwood, Pat Simmons of The Doobie Brothers, and Yale University Guitar Professor Ben Verdery. The front cover features a photo by Brian Byrnes of Jimi Hendrix playing on Maui in the 1970s.

Jon Woodhouse trained as a teacher at the University of London, and taught social studies at Ealing Art College (formerly attended by Pete Townshend, Ron Wood, and Freddie Mercury), before relocating to America. He became a journalist after moving to Maui in 1980, and has covered entertainment for The Maui News since 1983. He has promoted concerts (Dylan, Santana, CS&N) and personal growth workshops. He also ran the Maui arm of the Hawaiʻi International Film Festival.

For a weekly listing of Maui music and other events, go to Maui Entertainment, Arts, Community, July 14-20 and click here.


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