We want your stories, photos and memories. – The Official Site of Israel IZ Kamakawiwo`ole

We want your stories, photos and memories.

We are only a couple months into this site and the best part of the Rainbow Ohana is all of your stories. It seems there are thousands of IZ stories, photos and memories and we want to hear them all. What he makes you think of, the first time you heard him, when and if you met him, everything.

That is the magic of IZ’s life and death, he was and is always moving somebody in someway.

Please use the comments section of this post to share your stories. If you want to share some video, photos or if twitter and Facebook is just your thing, then please post your memories and anecdotes at https://www.twitter.com/izhawaii or https://www.facebook.com/israelkamakawiwoole

…Thank you all for sharing.


There are 16 comments on We want your stories, photos and memories.

  • I thought I might share some great memories of working and recording Hawaiian Style Band music with IZ… I believe it was 1993 and we had most of the tracking done for “Lets Talk Story”.
    What we needed was the real deal, talking story about the “Hana Butta” days, what it was like to grow up in Hawaii. We had already recorded Del Beazley and the 20 or so people we brought in to talk story inside the track. Iz came in last. He was having some trouble breathing but he was so sharp and funny. I’ll never forget.we rolled tape (remember that?) and Iz sang his parts line by line..When he got to the end of the song he was completely improvising off of what Del had sung and he came out with some now classic funny lines in there. That was a great time.. Iz was a great and reassuring influence on us in how he encouraged us to record some of the more controversial songs like “Living in a Sovereign Land” and Heiau. Check out the song I wrote for IZ ” Shine Like The Sun” on “Heart Jams”.
    I’ll never forget you IZ…
    Bryan Kessler
    Hawaiian Style Band

  • I remember going to Kaimuki Intermediate School with IZ. He was so Kolohe and loved to stir stuff up. I don’t think he ever put that ukulele down, and every recess, we went to basketball courts by the PE building to shoot hoops and he just sat at a table by “C” building an played and sang and pretty much teased everyone who went by. I also remember a bunch of us 9th graders going into Hank’s Place to watch the Makaha Son’s. I think that’s when I had my first beer. Try and get a beer in a bar as an 9th grader now. When IZ and Skippy played together, it was heaven.

  • 28 years on the islands passed by and never once felt I am away from home, love the Ohana, brother Iz’s songs, voice of freedom.
    His songs and videos are showing up in Beirut,Lebanon they love him, you hear loud car stereos on the road and in restaurants, visited my home town carrying my old collections of cassette tapes oHawaiian songs,IZ was their favorites(no offence) among other local musicians, girls dance on the Hukilau, my little grass shack and sing it.
    Its amazing !!!!!!!!!!

  • We love to listen to IZ in our office at JPG Hawaii.

    Our Graphic Design / Printing business is family run and we are grew up on Oahu.

    “In this life” has been a very inspiring song for me personally.

    IZ will always be with us.


    Jean-Paul Gedeon

    Graphic Design / Printing

  • Grew up in Makaha listening to IZ, remember when the statue of him went up at the Waianae DMV, where I used to catch the bus home everyday from Waianae Intermediate! I would touch his statue every day after school. I helped paddle one of the canoes from Makaha Beach to Yokes for his funeral. That is an honor I will always cherish. 🙂

    Thank you for this wonderful website!


  • My husband Mark and I went to Hanalei for a family Thanksgiving vacation in 2001. His sister brought a few IZ CD’s for all of us to listen to as background music in the house rental, and at the beach. She gave each of us the Facing Future CD. Since we started listening to IZ back home in California, especially in the summer when we BBQ’d. It was such soothing music and reminded us of Hawaii vacations. Mark’s favorite was Somewhere Over the Rainbow.
    In Feb 2005 Mark died a firefighter in the line of duty. I wanted to do a memory slideshow of his life at his memorial and at the beginning of the slideshow I chose “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” since it was one of his favorites. It was so appropriate to play. Now everytime I see a Rainbow, I think of Mark and I think of the song. I cannot think of any other song that has touched my heart and soul like that one.

    IZ was such a treasure and gift on this earth…….

  • Braddah IZ, I love your Hawaiian rendition of ~Wind Beneath my Wings~. For it is a song that resonates the love I have for my family after my bout’ with breast cancer. I used it to perform my aerial hoop debut act with Nathalie Gaulthier LE STUDIO K.I.A at Trapeze School New York Santa Monica Pier in California on 12/14/08, 2 yrs ago. I dedicated my act in honor of my step-mother, named Leona Laba Asuncion who we lost to pancreatic cancer 8 yrs ago. My father flew in from Honolulu and watched me take hula to another level up on my aerial hoop. And as God, would have it I performed under the stars over the Pacific Ocean. My father said, I did him proud. My dad cried and told me your song of ~Wind Beneath my Wings~ gave him ‘chicken skin’…he was very moved. Mahalo, for being a wonderful source of inspiration. Your legacy will forever live on through your music.

  • I first listened to IZ about four years ago when a very good Samoan friend of mine passed away from a car accident. Ever since then his music means so much to me, in fact I listen to Somewhere over the Rainbow every day while I drive home. And on January 30th 2010, the song really sank deep into my heart because now it was personal and it comforted me more than any other song in the world. This was the day I recieved a call that my 23 year old brother had just passed away in his sleep. Its been almost one month and I listen to this song throughout each day and I can’t begin to express in words how thatnkful I am for this man IZ to have made such an impact on people’s every day life through his music. When I cleaned out his house I found IZ CD with this song on it next to his empty CD player in the family room, it means alot to our family. Between knowing where my brother is and that I will meet him one glad morning, and IZ’s song I am slowly understanding and realizeing how to live without my brother from day to day. It truly is hardest thing I have ever had to cope with in my life he is my best friend, and I thank God for this song.

    One Love,

  • As a lifelong sufferer of depression and HIV, The first time I heard Bruddah IZ and his angelic voice, was at the end of the television show ‘ER’. I had never felt as deep an emotional response in my lifetime of solace and peace.
    I researched to find out who had performed this piece of musical gold and learned IZ’s story.
    He lives on BRIGHTLY in my soul and in my life.
    Whenever i feel down or like life’s getting the best of me, I listen to “What a wonderful world” or “Somewhere over the rainbow” and its like the sea parts and the sun shines brightly again.
    I don’t know how many of my friends and family worldwide I have introduced to IZ, but I know many of them now have him in their daily lives..

    I know he can hear me singing right beside him!

  • I first saw and heard Iz on a talk show late one night in Kauai. When he sang its as if the angels were singing as well. I went to a shop and found his tapes (yes, it was a long while ago) and we played his music anyplace we drove around on the island. I see palm trees, blue sky and all the beauty of Kauai when I hear him sing. I now have most of his CD’s and frequently play them in the car and in the house.

    I LOVE his voice & his music, but most of all, I think. his laugh! He found such joy in life. May he have only peace and joy and beauty for eternity.

  • I have never been to Hawaii, but Iz has found me here in Australia. He was a rare treasure indeed, and Hawaiians are rightly proud of their native son. His powerful spirit of aloha has inspired people all over the world, regardless of age, colour or culture – quite a rap for the laid back gentle giant with the quick wit and beautiful voice.
    When I play Iz’s music, my energetic and busy three year old granddaughter climbs on to my lap, head on my shoulder and thumb in her mouth, and is entranced for as long as the music continues. For myself, I have never in my life been reduced to tears by a voice, until Iz sang Opae e on my IPod. A special note of thanks to Jon de Mello for the beautiful remastering on Alone In Iz World, which supported Iz’s unbelievable voice and style without becoming the focus.
    Iz lives!

  • I truly can’t remember exactly when I first heard his unique version of ‘Over the rainbow’, but I do remember that whenever I heard this beautiful song I would always stop right there and be swept away. It takes me away from my normally stressful life to someplace serene and warm. The people I encounter there are content and embrace you with a sincerity that is sorely lacking in my urban jungle. All of my worries and stress melt away and I can breathe! I visit this paradise every time I hear Brudda IZ’s incredible voice. His gift of music is truly a blessing for the whole world. Rest in peace. Mahalo!

  • Hello from Utah USA. I first heard this song from the movie 51st Dates. It was strange, but the moment the song started playing… my jaw hit the ground and I immediately stopped focusing on the movie and just wanted to hear the song! So I started researching it right away and found the video (The Wonderful World) on Youtube. This time I could hear the song in full without the movie interupting it. lol As I was listening, I found myself bawling almost uncontrollably. This has NEVER happened to me in my life of 35 years with any song! I couldn’t explain while I was crying so much, but I was transfixed, enchanted, mesmerized. Words cannot even describe all the feelings I was feeling from JUST ONE SONG that I had just newly heard. I had to hear it over and over and over. For anyone who listens to that magical golden voice, it is life changing. His life was so short and I find that tragic… I wish I could have traveled just to hear him sing in person. I will use his music as medicine often and will be just as mesmerized as the first time. Down the road when I too pass away, I wish this song to be playing at my funeral. RIP IZ. We will NEVER FORGET YOU.

  • I have been coming to the Islands since 1966 (R&R from Viet Nam) I am a HS Teacher in Bakersfield CA (Old Guy)..Maui has been like a 2nd home for the past 20yrs..3 yrs ago I discovered IZ’s music…the goodness that came from his heart touched mine through his music..The Aloha spirit, and genuine kindness shown to me by the people on Maui (KBH) is also exemplified by IZ..Being a life long Elvis fan, I see a connection of the 2…wouldn’t it be great if someone could mix their music…his singing of Kaleohano, and his message is soooo real…if only we all would more than listen…I believe that IZ knew that “Life is not about me”…he made the world a better place….by putting tears of joy and love on our hearts.

  • The first time I heard IZ sing on the radio I was like WHOA! Who is this gyuy he sings really good. I normaly don’t listen to Hawaiian music, but IZ turned me on. I watched ever eposoide of Hot Hawaiian nights he was on. What I liked about IZ was he was just an average person who really cared about the people and the culture of Hawaii. I just cryed when I saw the Na Hoku awards when he paid tribute to the Makaha Sons and they came on the stage and sang with him. Iz was bigger than life and he changed my way of thinking about Hawaii and the culture of the Hawaiian people. I think his Hawaii 78 song should be played for all the people running for office this coming election year. Just listen to the words their so powerfull. Just imagine if our king and queen would visit these Islands and see everthing how would they feel if they saw rail road tracks on this sacared ground.

  • I remember to have heard “somewhere over the rainbow” several times at the radio in my car, but with nothing else in my mind than thinking : “it’s cool…”

    But one day, during an “after” with a friend at his home, he decided to play this song from Youtube… The following is just amazing : between 2:00 am to 7:00 am, “somewhere over the rainbow” has never stopped running. Never. And since, I can’t live without hear it at less 10 times a day. It’s incredible ! This happened 3 weeks ago.

    Thanks IZ, rip, and thanks for this site !

    Greetings from FRANCE !!!