“Somewhere Over the Rainbow” is a well-known song that was written and performed by Israel Kamakawiwo’ole, an obese Hawaiian who played the ukulele. Iz, who was 38 years old, was the biggest name in Hawaiian music. He died in 1997, when he was more than 1,000 pounds, and tens of thousands of people went to his funeral.
The song came out in 1993 as “Over the Rainbow/What a Wonderful World.” It was on Kamakawiwo’ole’s album “Facing Future,” and it was used in a number of TV shows and commercials. It was also used in the movie scores for “Meet Joe Black” and “Son of the Mask.”
In fact, Iz knew at age 11 that modern Hawaiian music was nothing like traditional Hawaiian music. In the end, he released four studio albums and four compilation albums, with his most popular album, “Facing Future,” going double platinum.
All of them have the sunny, calming sound of the ukulele, which is used in stories and anecdotes about life on the islands, just like the state motto says. It says, “Righteousness is what keeps the life of the land going.”
Iz’s health would suffer because of his weight. When he died at age 38 in June 1997, he weighed almost 1,000 pounds. WBUR News says that Iz once said:
“I know this is going to sound strange, but I’m not afraid of dying because I think all these places are temporary.” We Hawaiians live in both worlds, so this is just one shell. It runs through our veins.