Henry Kapono: “It was exciting to play in front of 60-80,000 people”
Interview. Famous for the duet Cecilio & Kapono in the 70’s, Henry Kapono is one of the biggest star of the Hawaiian soft rock sound. He has been kind enough to answer to my questions.
How was life in Hawaii for a musician when you start your career?
There was so much music everywhere. Waikiki was like Bourbon Street, La. It was like a music candy store. There were great bands from all over the World and it was “Live!!!” It was exciting!!!
How did you meet Cecilio Rodriguez?
Through a friend Johnny Isara. He told me about him and we met on the Northshore and the rest is history. We blended so naturally.
What is your best memory with Cecilio & Kapono?
Performing in Austin Texas. On the Bill was us, Santana, Gary Wright, America and Peter Frampton. Everyone had a song on the Top 10, so the day of Peter Frampton went to number 1 and he was the headliner. It was exciting to play in front of 60-80,000 people. Next day we were back in a club.
Why did the band break up?
For me I was starting a family and as much fun as we were having we were financially poor. Our manager Bill Thompson who was the best manager we ever had (till my wife Lezlee) got fired by a very arrogant realtor who was our financial backer and the rest went down to tubes. At that point I realized if I was gonna stay in the game I needed to learn the business. We had the wrong people around us and I needed to regroup. Things were changing. Disco eliminated live music. I had to find my path.
There were other talented soft rock bands over there at the time like Kalapana, Lemuria, Summer or Seawind. Did you have connection with them?
We were all supportive of each other. We all had our own sound and we were all doing what we loved. It was a great time to be in the music scene.
How can we define the Hawaiian sound?
The Hawaiian sound is in the soul of the island. It’s how we feel and live in our home the World call Paradise. It’s in the rhythm of the ocean, the mountains, the wind, the people and the sunshine.
In your early career, you toured in Vietnam during the war. Was memories do you have of this experience?
It was life changing. I was 20 stuck in a war zone that was very unnecessary. Spent a year playing for the troops at fire bases. I played, ate and slept with my guitar. That was my saving grace. When I left Vietnam I was so grateful. I knew what Freedom was all about and knew how precious life is and that I have the choice to celebrate everyday.
Where do you take your inspiration from?
For me inspiration it’s all around me. I just need to listen and be open to feel life around me. My wife and my children are very inspiring.
What are the themes that inspire you the most to write lyrics?
Peace, Love, Family and Happy. My biggest inspiration are John Lennon, Bob Marley, Jimi Hendrix. They represented World Peace.
Which ones of your solo albums would you recommend to someone who want to discover your music and why?
Henry for the joy of love, life, family. Home in the Islands for my love for the islands. The Wild Hawaiian for my love for my culture, my past, my pride, but importantly moving the culture forward. Duke’s on Sunday for my love for people and my rock roots.
I usually find your albums in Japan. Which countries are the more sensible to your music?
Definitely Hawaii and people all over the World.