Bill Tapia played for the opening of the Royal Hawaiian Hotel. Now he just played for the (temporary) closing.
"In 1927, Hawai'i-born Bill Tapia already had a lifetime's worth of musical experiences under his belt. He was 19 years old and criss-crossing the Pacific Ocean playing jazz guitar for steamship passengers.
During a trip home to see his parents, though, band leader Johnny Noble offered him a few extra dollars to stay here for a special job: Playing on opening night of a new hotel in Waikiki: The Royal Hawaiian.
Last night, 81 years later, as The Royal Hawaiian prepared to shut down for six months and an $85 million renovation project, Tapia was back home, playing his first love, the 'ukulele, for hundreds of adoring fans in one of Honolulu's most storied musical venues, the Monarch Room."